Connecting Cultures in Indianapolis

By Jessica Kilcoyne, Development Intern

This past Friday, I was given the opportunity to spend my day with a very unique and remarkable group of visitors who were participating in the International Visitors Leadership Program in Indianapolis. The IVLP, which is an initiative of the Department of State, bring international guests to the United States so they can attend professional meetings, participate in enriching activities, and ultimately gain insight pertaining to their work abroad. The delegation that I was able to assist with was American Youth: Inspiring Leadership and Civic Participation. The members of this group came from all over: Czech Republic, India, Kuwait, Mexico, Namibia, Singapore, and Uzbekistan. While they were all initially strangers who hailed from various parts of the world, their goal was cohesive: the learn more about civic awareness, youth leadership, and educational policies within the United States. By promoting diplomacy between international countries and the United States, the IVLP creates a rewarding experience for both its participants and its facilitators.
I met these seven individuals in the lobby of their hotel early Friday morning, and I was immediately welcomed warmly. One of the first things I noticed about this group was their excitement and enthusiasm for every activity we participated in. We attended meetings at three inspiring places: the Center for Leadership Development, Eastwood Middle School, and Asante’s Children’s Theater. Each gathering was an opportunity to connect cultures, exchange insight, and discover very significant community programs. The group members were incredibly inquisitive – truly striving to take away as much information as they could. Furthermore, this curiosity was contagious, and I found myself motivated to learn more about these projects. By accompanying this delegation, I was able to see Indianapolis through the eyes of an international visitor, and it actually reinvigorated my own appreciation for the city I live in. So often, we fail to remember that there are truly great things happening right in our neighborhoods. All we have to do is look a little closer, and these IVLP members showed me how to do so.
Throughout my internship at The International Center, I have been consistently and thoroughly integrated with the staff’s work. By permitting me to help with this delegation, The International Center has once again expanded my professionalism and broadened my perceptions. It is often difficult for many organizations to fully trust their interns, so I am thankful that The International Center has complete confidence in my ability. As I head towards the conclusion of my internship, I am certain that everything I have learned here will successfully contribute to both my future career endeavors and my own personal outlook on life.