The U.S. State Department annually brings about 4,000 “high-potential” middle managers from around the world for a three week program to the United States. They are selected by U.S. Embassies abroad and represent all disciplines, i.e., business entrepreneurs, academics, journalism, law enforcement, medicine, engineering, agriculture and government. During their first week they are introduced to the workings of Washington, D.C.; then they exchange ideas, practices and challenges with their selected professional U.S. counterparts in two or three locations across the States for 2-3 days each. The St. Louis Council hosts about 250 of these foreign citizen ambassadors in groups of one to fifteen per year. Among IVLP’s alumni are 192 current and former heads of state including former Prime Minister Tony Blair of England, former President F.W. de Klerk of South Africa, and the late President of Egypt, Anwar Sadat.
The IVLP allows the visitors to see grassroots America at work, in schools and in the community. The American host has an unequaled opportunity to enrich his/her knowledge of the visitor’s homeland, form a new friendship and to continue exchanging ideas even after the visit is concluded.
Although the State Department coordinates parts of the exchange , private programming agencies, like the Academy for Educational Development, are responsible for most of the details. These national agencies rely upon a network of organizations known as the Centers for International Visitors to develop local connections and a rewarding schedule for the visitors.
The National Council for International Visitors network consists of more than 90 non-profit organizations across the nation. In the greater Gateway region, the World Affairs Council of St. Louis fulfills the local programming role. We work with the State Department, national programming agencies and local citizens to construct a rewarding and insightful program for the visitors. Our office arranges professional meetings between visitors and local professionals, travel, accommodation, cultural encounters and visits to schools. The St. Louis Council usually hosts around 250 visitors per year.
Although some visitors come at their own expense, the Office of International Visitors at the State Department provides full or partial funding for many visitors. The World Affairs Council of St. Louis draws from this funding to implement its programming.
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