Home hospitality visits are a highlight for international visitors that come to Indianapolis through the IVLP program.
“Hosting State Department dinners is one of my favorite things, so of course I said yes when asked…even if the party was on Friday, and it was already Wednesday afternoon. I did my grocery shopping Thursday after work, prepared the soup and vegetables, then set the table before heading to bed. On Friday, I arrived home at 4:30 p.m. and immediately enlisted my friend Jane Gehlhausen, director of International & Cultural Affairs at City of Indianapolis, to cut flowers from the garden and arrange a few bouquets. I put the roast in the oven, cut the bread, prepared scalloped potatoes and got the vegetables ready to reheat. Meanwhile, we opened wine. If I’ve learned one thing along the way, it’s that wine is a great enabler of good conversation, so I always have plenty on hand – unless our visitors are from Muslim countries where alcohol isn’t served.
“Our interns picked up the guests and arrived promptly at six, joined by past International Center Board Chair Florence May and her father. I offered drinks and conversation quickly ensued. For most of our visitors, this is their only opportunity to spend relaxed time in an American home, talking openly and asking candid questions. These guests were particularly lively and, along with the mix of ages, experiences and points of view represented in the room, it was clear we were in for some great discussion.
“The point of this program is to open up each other’s eyes to the world, in a personal way that defies the abstract images we see on television or other media,” Diane finishes. “It’s a front row seat to U.S. foreign policy…with wine!”