Interview with an artist: Michelle Angela Ortiz

You may remember Michelle Angela Ortiz, a mural artist based in Philadelphia, from Meridian International Center’s Cuba Forum on June 9th. She recently returned from Cuba as part of Meridian’s Community Engagement through the Mural Arts program, a joint initiative with the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. There, she worked with the local community in Regla to create stunning works of public art. We spoke with her about her experience, methodology, and the power of art to transform communities.

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Sky High Mural Arts in Santo Domingo

In this latest blog I will describe my experience working with the community of artists, students, faculty and staff of the Instituto Tecnico Superiore Comunitario (ITSC) in San Luis, a section of Santo Domingo towards the east. We worked on a wall that was part of the Science building, a four-story surface that faced the highway (carretera). All traffic headed from Santo Domingo towards the eastern part of the island would pass directly in front of the wall. It was where the city became rural; pastures were across the street and cows grazed freely on the grounds in front...

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IVLP Alumni Spotlight: Two Women Countering Violent Extremism

 

IVLP Alumni Spotlight features U.S. Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) alumni as they reflect on the impact of the program and how it has affected their work and lives.  Here we feature two alumni who participated in a Multi-Regional project for women engaged in countering terrorism on practitioner and grassroots levels in their own countries. The participants spent two weeks in the United States examining the growing threat of terrorism and extremist organizations, the role of women within these organizations, the radicalization of women, and the tools and strategies that help counter this threat.

 

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Working Together in Vitória, Espírito Santo, Brasil

Arriving It was hard to know what to expect. I had never been to Brasil, let alone South America. I was leaving the end of winter and arriving at the beginning of fall, as if time were working in reverse or speeding up and skipping seasons. As far as air travel goes, the flights (three of them) were all on time and remarkably stress free. In the blink of an eye, after falling asleep watching The Martian somewhere over the Amazon rainforest, I was in São Paulo, the biggest city in the Southern Hemisphere. I would be back later...

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Combatting Human Trafficking Through The Arts

This blog was written by Joel Bergner, who recently went to India as part of Meridian’s Community Engagement through the Arts program:

Looking at a map of India’s eastern state West Bengal, one will notice that it has an unusual shape. At the top, a tiny sliver of land shoots hundreds of kilometers north, like a little tree growing out of rest of the state, which includes the capital city of Kolkata and the iconic Ganges River. This sliver pushes up into the Himalayas, and borders on Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, not far from Chinese-controlled Tibet. It is a fascinating place, with incredible mountainous views, the world-famous Darjeeling tea fields and Buddhist and Hindu temples spotting the landscape. However, it was none of these things that brought me here, to the small city of Siliguri. Upon arrival, I met with my team of local artists and Nishi Kant, director of the Indian NGO Shakti Vahini, who educated us on the situation here.

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