June 2018 IVLP Update

This month your WAC-STL has hosted three IVLP groups learning about a wide variety of topics. In the first week of June, we had two groups, one from Russia and one from the Lake Chad Basin in Africa. This week, a group from Tajikistan and a group from China finished up their visit in St. Louis.

The group from Russia was focused on Preventing Trafficking in Persons: Partnerships, Sustainability, and Advocacy. Highlights of their visit included a conversation with Whitney Howland from the International Institute of St. Louis on engaging foreign-born communities in anti-trafficking efforts, visiting the Arch, and home hospitality visits with two community members.

Our visitors from the Lake Chad Basin in Africa met with organizations and departments in St. Louis to discuss the role of Community Relations in the Fight Against Terrorism. The visitors said they especially enjoyed the meetings with Dr. John Doggette and Karen Kalish. The group was able to visit the Arch, which they really enjoyed.

The visitors from Tajikistan were focused on Media Management in a Digital Era. They toured St. Louis Public Radio and learned about Journalism Education at Mizzou. Cultural highlights included an excellent home hospitality visit.

The group from China also learned about Media management, with a focus on New and Traditional American Media in the Digital Age. The group listened to Robert Patrick from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, had a great conversation with the St. Louis Society of Professional Journalists, and talked with professors and faculty at Mizzou’s School of Journalism. The group was excited to attend a Cardinals game at Busch Stadium! This exchange also touched some of the presenters from St. Louis, check out a blog post about presenting to the visitors here!

Novus Corporate Breakfast: Facts on Food

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Over 30 community members attended the Corporate Breakfast hosted by WACSTL and Novus this morning. The breakfast of bagels and coffee was followed by an engaging presentation by the President and CEO of Novus, François Fraudeau.  Visitors were able to ask questions after the presentation, leading to more specific answers on topics like food dye, food packaging and health concerns related to food sources.

Novus focuses on the triple S Bottom Line, which stands for Solutions, Service, and Sustainability. Novus works on finding solutions to existing industry issues, providing excellent customer service, and working towards the ultimate goal of providing the world with affordable and wholesome food.

Attendees had the opportunity to tour the facility, everyone was impressed by the modern designs. The office space was a great example of innovation, with clear examples of work towards creating an efficient and welcoming environment for employees.

Preventing Trafficking in Persons: Advocacy, Partnerships, and Sustainability

This past week, WAC-STL hosted seven visitors from Russia and two interpreters through the International Visitors Leadership Program. The visitors were from all over Russia, and most of their work deals with the prevention of trafficking in persons. While in St. Louis, they met with Washington University’s Human Trafficking Collaborative Network, the St. Louis County Police Special Investigations Unit, the Child Protection Department of the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court, a representative from the Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes Jewish College, The Covering House, Healing Action Network, Gateway Human Trafficking, and a representative of the St. Louis Rescue and Restore Coalition from the International Institute of St. Louis.

The first meeting was with a wide variety of St. Louis focused resources that work to prevent human trafficking and really offered a wider picture of human trafficking in St. Louis. During their meeting with Healing Action Network, the group discussed the merits of peer to peer work with victims of human trafficking and the importance of collaboration with law enforcement. The meeting with the St. Louis Rescue and Restore Coalition highlighted the importance of building trust in foreign-born communities as the first step to preventing human trafficking in those communities. The meetings all concluded with engaging questions and dialogue.

The visit was made possible through the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and Meridian International. WACSTL hosts more than 150 visitors a year through IVLP, offering a wide range of local and global exchange on a diverse range of issues. If you are interested in supporting WACSTL’s work with IVLP as a volunteer or in other capacities, consider becoming a member!

WAC-STL hosts international group focused on Combating Gender-Based Violence

To aid in the international campaign against Gender-Based Violence, the World Affairs Council of St. Louis hosted seven visitors from the country of Georgia May 6-9. The delegation included two language interpreters and five individuals with careers in national and local law enforcement and NGOs, all concentrating their time in the U.S. upon Combating Gender-Based Violence (GBV).

The group arrived in Saint Louis looking to learn more about:

  • the impact of legislation on Domestic Violence,
  • Specialized Police and Courts roles in these topics and
  • NGO activity in the legal sphere of GBV.

During their time here, they met with various governmental department heads and leaders of organizations.  On Monday, May 7, the group’s meetings focused on law enforcement and legal rulings pertaining to domestic violence cases. They observed Judges presiding over their domestic abuse court cases in St. Louis County.

After meeting with several circuit judges, they finished the day meeting with a St. Louis Metropolitan Police Detective from the Domestic Abuse Response Team (DART).

On May 8, the meetings focused more on policy and service aspects of domestic violence. The group met with an attorney from the Legal Advocates for Abused Women (LAAW), the only domestic violence program partnering with law enforcement and criminal court systems.

Next, they met with the Public Policy Director of the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (MCADSV) who discussed efforts and challenges in lobbying for legislation related to victims of abuse. They concluded the day by meeting with a manager from Provident, INC. an organization providing therapy services to families and individuals suffering from abuse, as well as those who have, themselves, committed domestic violence.

The group on May 9 continued their trip to Boston, Massachusetts, where they spent two more days meeting with leaders of current local efforts to combating GBV and exploring various prevention and education programs within the city.

This visit was made possible through the State Department’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs as well as Global Ties U.S.    The World Affairs Council of St. Louis annually hosts more than 150 visitors through the program, providing an important link between local experts on important global issues and countries where deeper knowledge on those issues is important.


Wac Welcomes Summer 2018 Intern

The school year is over and summer has begun, which means we are welcoming a new intern to WAC-STL!

Bonjour, hi! My name is Jessica Ryan and I am a Junior majoring in Environmental Sciences and minoring in Communication Studies and Social Entrepreneurship at McGill University. I plan to use this mélange work in a philanthropic minded international organization. I grew up in Saint Louis and moved to Montréal, Canada for school two years ago. During the year, I participate in McGill’s Ski club and volunteer for Junior Peacemakers: an organization that provides middle school classrooms with UN designed curriculum and activities to expand American kids’ global knowledge in a captivating way. I love learning new languages because it also helps me increase my awareness of a culture (food plays a significant role here!). I am fluent in English and French although I have previously studied Ancient Greek and Spanish, and hope to start Korean soon. I greatly look forward to spending my summer connecting Saint Louis to the international community here at the World Affairs Council.

If you are interested in becoming an intern for the Fall or Spring semesters, be sure to fill out our interest form!

Global Health, Local Focus

On Wednesday, April 25th Dr. Matthew Gabel presented on topics in Global Health as the final presenter in the World Affairs Council’s 2018 Great Decisions Series. His presentation focused on the amount of resources put into public health and the way those resources are used by various agents in the processes that perform public health abroad.

Dr. Gabel’s presentation called for reflection on the allotment of funds to global health initiatives. The presentation emphasized the difficulty that organizations who focus on global health initiatives are faced with when trying to evaluate and better their programs. Any policy change has a large number of surrounding confounding variables that make it difficult to understand the results of the enacted policies and practices.

The goal of global public health may be better suited to be carried out by philanthropic efforts, as the current channels of the US government have  a large emphasis on foreign policy, not a focus on long term sustainable health solutions. United States infrastructure abroad is mainly focused on military structures and group, so the results when health initiatives are put forth by the United States’ government is that they can exclude local experts and officials in ways that make the initiatives unsustainable.

Global Public Health’s role in national security was emphasized as an overlooked objective of the United States’ foreign policy. There is a lot of focus on intentional biological violence, but not as much focus on the more realistic culprit of the unassuming transmission of germs through travelers on a daily basis.

Great Decisions Sparks Further Thought and Conversation

Dr. Ellen Carnaghan discussing her findings while studying the Russian election.

The Great Decisions Lecture Series of 2018 is meant to further conversations on important topics related to global issues. In the recent lecture by Dr. Ellen Carnaghan of Saint Louis University, St. Louis community members participated in critical thinking about not only Russia’s Foreign Policy but also the involvement of the United States in that foreign policy.

In the Webster-Kirkwood Times, the relevance of this topic on a local scale is discussed by Don Corrigan. His article on the American’s waning wariness of Russia brings a globally focused topic back to St. Louis in a way that encourages community members to think about their actions, involvement, and attitudes towards both Russia and their local politics.

As the goal of Great Decisions Lecture Series is “inspiring learning about the world”, the local engagement of citizens in global issues as a result of conversations about Great Decisions topics is the epitome of inspired learning.

UMSL Professor: Despite South Africa’s challenges, reasons for optimism

Despite the challenges South Africa now faces, “I would much rather the country be where it is now than where it was 20 years ago said,” Jean-Germain Gros, professor at UM-St. Louis.

Speaking at the World Affairs Council of St. Louis’ Great Decision Series on April 19, Professor Gros noted the challenges facing that country:

  • Corruption to the point where the country is in peril of “state capture,” where elites essentially are in charge.
  • Economic inequality, not along racial lines but to the extent that a middle class, considered by most to be necessary for democracy, no longer exists.
  • Political challenges: “The ANC was defined by its opposition to white rule, and had to operate in secrecy,” Professor Gros said.  “That was fine when it was a revolutionary party.  Unfortunately, it continues to govern like a revolutionary party; people are chosen not through primaries but by what the  high political officials have decided.”  He noted “what you have in the ANC is loyalty and zeal, but not competence or clean dealing. The ANC continues to function as a clandestine party.”
  • Urban/Rural divisions, where the ANC is losing support in urban areas but strong in rural areas. “South Africa may be about to be split between the two,” he noted.

Despite the challenges, Professor Gros said he is “fairly optimistic in spite of these challenges that South Africa is not about to backslide.”  He credits a free and vibrant press, energetic debates in Parliament and a fiercely independent judiciary.”

As a global stage, Professor Gros noted South Africa, and all of Africa, are seeing a huge influx of Chinese capital and labor, with the U.S. barely being present.  “The U.S. will provide assistance, but with many strings attached.”  Meanwhile, Chinese workers and investors are very visible and engaged.

The next presentation in WAC-STL’s Great Decisions Lecture Series is focused on Global Health: Progress and Challenges presented by Dr. Matthew Gabel of Washington University in St. Louis. The final Great Decisions Lecture is on Wednesday, April 25th.  Mark your calendars!

Bunzl Breakfast

On Thursday, the Bunzl Corporation and the World Affairs Council of St. Louis partnered to provide a wide variety of individuals with the opportunity to learn about Bunzl’s role locally and internationally as a distribution hub. Visitors were from a wide variety of St. Louis based organizations. They all came with an interest in learning about the tasks carried out at Bunzl’s Hazelwood location.

Matt Noel and Jeff Morris gave an informative presentation about the role of Bunzl in St. Louis’s grocery stores, restaurants, and retailers over a delicious breakfast. They also discussed the global impact of Bunzl through their work as international distributors.

Jeff Jones provided guests with an extensive tour of the warehouse, showing off Bunzl’s massive stock room. The tour gave visitors the opportunity to see firsthand the scale of Bunzl’s business logistics. Guests were very impressed, as detailed by the photos below!

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