IVLP Impact Awards Perspectives: Stories of Inclusion Part I


Kudakwashe Maria “Vera” Chisvo is an alumna of the International Visitor Leadership Program and a 2023 recipient of the IVLP Impact Awards for her project Human Eyes. Meridian International Center, in partnership with the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, implements the IVLP Impact Awards Initiative. IVLP Impact Awardees from across the world administer community impact projects that build on their experiences and promote innovative solutions to shared challenges. The IVLP Impact Awards Initiative aims to engage alumni, strengthen global networks, and support lasting community impact.

Inspirations and Impressions

My name is Kudakwashe Maria Chisvo, but I go by the pseudonym Vera. I am a vocalist, guitarist, model, content creator, and arts administrator. I am the founder of Incubator ZW Hub, an audio-visual virtual hub that provides safe and innovative spaces for artists to collaborate, innovate, and create. I am also the Arts and Events Coordinator of Magamba Network, a digital media youth-driven organization in Zimbabwe.

During my IVLP exchange experience, I visited Washington, D.C., Colorado Springs, Colorado and San Francisco, California. My visits to each city inspired my IVLP Impact Award project, Human Eyes. In Washington, D.C., I enjoyed a session on unconscious bias with Lobna “Luby” Ismail from Connecting Cultures. I enjoyed finding different tools to bring together people of different cultural, racial, and religious backgrounds. Inspired by our shared exchange, I brainstormed the concept of Human Eyes with fellow IVLP alumna and IVLP Impact Awardee Jordan Chanetsa and featured her story in my project.

During my home hospitality visit in Colorado Springs, Colorado, I engaged in a “real” conversation with an American family. I am still in touch with my host family, and we chat regularly via email. I also enjoyed meeting with CommunityWorks. I found their office space interesting as it is based on alternative energy sources and creative ways of working in space. San Francisco, California was an amazing experience where I toured the Castro District and was introduced to a space the LGBTQAI+ community created for themselves.

The Power of Music, Photography, Dance, and Film

My IVLP Impact Award project is called Human Eyes, which is an audio-visual project that will speak on the lives of three marginalized communities: LGBTQAI+, women, and people with disabilities. The project uses music, photography, dance, and film to tell these stories from the perspective of the communities. Each member will be the director of their own story, and the musician, dancer, photographer, and videographer will be the mediums they will use to tell these stories. Many times, people from these communities have their stories told from a very biased perspective. With this project, I am hoping to tell their stories from their point of view in a way that will counter negative perspectives.

Building Networks

As an IVLP participant, I have met leaders from all over the world facing similar issues to myself. One of the challenges of working with marginalized communities is navigating the negative social and political climates affecting the communities I am working in. I have also had the chance to see how they have created platforms to address these issues, and it has prompted me to consider the safety of the project’s participants. In IVLP, I now have a wide network of people and resources to tap into so that I can find new and innovative ways to address issues in my community.

Kudakwashe Maria “Vera” Chisvo was a participant on the IVLP Project A Global Moment in Time – Reflections on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility, organized by the U.S. Department of State and Meridian International Center. Learn more about her IVLP Impact Award project, Human Eyes on our website.