February 8-11, the Global Ties U.S. National Meeting took place in Washington, DC. Global Ties U.S. is the national membership organization for TGA’s participation in the U.S. State Department International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). TGA annually hosts between 100 and 150 international visitors through this program, and we estimate a similar number of visitors in 2017. Global Ties U.S. administers the U.S. State Department’s Community Partnership Grant Program, and TGA has applied for $37,800 to host IVLP participants in 2017.
More than 800 people attended last week’s National Meeting from Washington DC and around the country, and TGA was well-represented. TGA Program Council Chair Cathy Render, Beihai Sister City Chair Alisa Dougless, and TGA Vice-President of Programs Bob Lieser represented TGA. Tulsan Phil Lauinger is a member of the Global Ties U.S. Advisory Board and was in Washington for the meeting. Celebrated Tulsa author and businessman Clifton Taulbert was presented with Global Ties U.S. 2017 Citizen Diplomat Award and his son Marshall, a former Tulsan, came to Washington for the awards luncheon.
During our time in Washington, we met with representatives of the U.S. State Department, National Program Agencies that send international visitors around the country, and other Community-Based Members like TGA in other cities. We gained insight into other cities’ programming and successful organization structure from attendees through networking, shared Tulsa’s programs and its people, and invited many at the conference to visit Tulsa.
TGA representatives visited the offices of Congressmen Jim Bridenstine and Markwayne Mullin with a message about the importance of exchange programs and of continuing U.S. State Department funding for them. We visited World Learning, which sends many visiting high school students to Tulsa, and found out that the U.S. State Department and U.S. Embassy in Baghdad are moving forward with plans to send Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program students to Tulsa July 20 – August 3! We also visited the Israeli Embassy as part of a reception organized by Global Ties U.S. Thanks to Alisa Dougless’ fast grab of available early morning tickets, we were even able to squeeze in a quick and wonderful visit to the new National Museum of African American History and Culture. If you are in Washington and can get tickets, it’s well worth a visit!
We were inspired by very insightful messages from keynote speakers such as former Ambassador and Current Acting Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Bruce Wharton. Here is a link to his comments during last Thursday’s plenary luncheon: https://www.state.gov/r/remarks/2017/267569.htm?utm_campaign=coschedule&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=ECAatState. The visitor from China Ambassador Wharton mentions, Chen Yongsong, came to Tulsa during his visit to the U.S. in 2001!
I hope you’ll consider attending future Global Ties U.S. events in Washington DC or elsewhere in the country. It’s a great way to meet with other organizations that share our work and mission, and to see the scope and impact of our role as citizen diplomats.
With best wishes,
Bob Lieser, Vice President of Programs