“#SheBelieves”: Sports Diplomacy’s Ability to Empower Women Athletes Worldwide

American soccer fans cheered loudly Sunday night as the U.S. Women’s National Team defeated Japan in a 5 – 2 win, bringing the FIFA World Cup trophy home for the first time in 16 years. More than 20 million viewers tuned in to watch the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup championship match, shattering TV rating records for soccer in the process. In light of the work done here at Meridian International Center, this victory is also an opportunity to bring attention to the mission and goals of sports diplomacy: a way for the universal passion for sports to bring people of different linguistic and sociocultural backgrounds together. Utilizing sports diplomacy, the U.S. Department of State and its partners have expressed an active commitment to empowering women and girls in sports around the world.

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A Profile of IVLP Alumni Becoming Heads of State

The 75th Anniversary of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) is a major milestone in the program’s history. It offers us a chance to reflect on the impact of the program by examining the numbers. More than 335 current or former heads of government are IVLP alumni. Meridian International Center is proud to have coordinated the programs of 168 of these alumni. I compiled basic data on these world leaders to see what sort of statistics could be gleaned. I focused on their age when they participated in the IVLP, how many years afterward they became a head of government and what was the length of their term. I also marked their gender and if they were currently in office.

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The Art of Disability Programming

As the U.S. Department of State focuses increasing attention on promoting the rights of people with disabilities, the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) is seeing increasing numbers of participants studying this topic. The implementation and design of exchange projects on disabilities policy, some with participants with disabilities, have unique logistical and administrative needs and require a high degree of skill, creativity and sensitivity. This article provides IVLP programmers and associated colleagues with a framework for providing disabled participants the same productive (and fun) experience as others. Continue  

3 Months Home: An Interview with IVLP Alumna Khairunnisa Ash’ari from Brunei

This is the first post of a new initiative where we will feature a U.S. Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) alumnus who, three months out from their IVLP experience, is putting into practice ideas and concepts gleaned during the IVLP study tour. Here we feature Ms. Khairunnisa Ash’ari, Director of Community Engagement for Green Brunei and a Committee Member of the Brunei Youth Council. She participated in a group project on Volunteerism and Youth. We followed up with Ms. Ash’ari to learn about her experience since IVLP and lessons learned.

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Supporting Global LGBTI Movements for Equality through Exchange Programs

June marks lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) pride month. As communities worldwide celebrate with parades, festivals, and workshops, LGBTI people globally acknowledge success in their fight for equality as well as much work that remains to be done. President Obama acknowledged as much in his proclamation declaring June as LGBT Pride Month when he wrote that “…we are also reminded that we are not truly equal until every person is afforded the same rights and opportunities – that when one of us experiences discrimination, it affects all of us – and that our journey is not complete until our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law.”

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