Like you, all Citizen Diplomacy team members will continue to 'Stay at Home' to stop the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. We will work from home until we are cleared by our Mayor and Governor to return to the office. When you need to speak to me or a team member, please continue to first reach out by email.
What's going on with our programs?
As you can imagine, travel around the world has decreased and our international programs are currently on hold. This week, I was notified that our federal delegations (IVLP, Professional Fellows and Open World) scheduled to come to Philadelphia in May will be postponed. For now, we are monitoring programs scheduled for June. On a more positive note, we are actively working on programs for later in the year.
Following Mayor Kenney's Stay at Home Order, we have cancelled our in-person First Thursday receptions in April and May. And sadly, with the closing of the schools in Philadelphia, spring travel plans for Sister Cities High School Exchanges to South Korea, Germany and Poland have been moved to the autumn.
But, this is not forever. When this crisis ends - and it will - I fully expect our programs to ramp up and be busier than ever. In the meantime, we must stay connected.
We're All Going Virtual!
Keep an eye out for my invitation to next week's First Thursday on April 2! At Citizen Diplomacy, we're going to use this time to experiment with some videos and virtual meet-ups for you. Our Facebook page has some great features on Women in Diplomacy and you can browse 7,413 photos in our Flickr account. I will continue to put together and share our recommended book lists, music, recipes, virtual tours and other ways for you tor connect with our Sister Cities and learn what our exchange participants are up to now.
A Global Mindset is Vital in our Leaders
Before I sign off, I'd like to share a story with you that emphasizes how important it is to have leaders with a global mindset.
As the child of an immigrant, Kevin Boyle, our State Representative in Northeast Philadelphia, has always tuned into international news. Kevin was watching COVID-19 explode in China, Italy and Ireland and considering how it would impact Pennsylvania, long before his counterparts in the State House. Kevin was a strong advocate for moving the upcoming primary to June 2. More importantly, he introduced legislation that will require PA to mail a pre-paid vote-by-mail ballot to every eligible voter, ensuring everyone will be able to take part in the election.
This legislation is still under discussion, so I encourage you to do your bit to flatten the curve and make sure your vote gets counted by registering for a mail-in ballot here. The deadline is May 26.
Another positive note of hope - right now the science community and the entire, interconnected world is focused on solving a single problem: surviving COVID-19. This pandemic underscores the importance of a U.S. foreign policy that recognizes human interconnectedness and shared responsibility.
Thank you for being a Citizen Diplomats and for being part of the solution. We will get through this together. Please stay safe and stay connected.
P.S. Please share!! The COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund, a more-than-$9 million grant and loan program designed to support Philly small businesses and preserve jobs, was launched by our partners at the City of Philadelphia Commerce Department and PIDC. Thank you to all of the business members in our community for completing the survey I sent out last week