Here at Citizen Diplomacy International, we are always happy to express our gratitude for our amazing supporters and donors who help to make our programs possible. Last week, we had the opportunity to do exactly that at our Donor Appreciation Afternoon Tea!
Prior to the event, 100 of our most dedicated donors received a care package in the mail which included everything you need to take a break from the work day and relax with a cup of tea. Also included was a scratch-off map of the world so that those of us yearning for international travel can start dreaming of the future. We all came together for a virtual moment of relaxation, while celebrating our donors and some of our recent accomplishments.
Our President and CEO Siobhan Lyons kicked us off by welcoming our guests and highlighting a few of the ambitious goals that we were able to accomplish:
The IVLP remained strong as we transitioned to more virtual programs. We were able to hold 64 virtual exchange programs and welcome over 200 international visitors between February and June.
“We are still doing the hard work of promoting Philadelphia, showcasing our city, connecting these amazing visitors to all of the wonderful people here in Philadelphia and so far all of the programs are going really well and they’re all looking forward to coming and visiting us again, finally, when in-person travel returns.”
We have hosted many inspiring guests for our Diplomacy and Dialogue program, but we had a particularly special one for Earth Day in March. An IVLP alumna, Amina Ansari from Pakistan and Kareem Afzal, CEO of PDC Machines joined us to talk about sustainability and how we need to look at different technologies to solve climate change.
Perhaps our most exciting accomplishment was launching the Citizen Diplomat Academy – an online exchange program for high school and university students. This helped to fill the void of one of our biggest losses in the pandemic, which was offering international exchange for Philadelphia students with our sister cities. Support from our donors made it possible for 66 students from Philadelphia and Frankfurt, Germany to collaborate in our first exchange.
Siobhan then moved on to the most exciting part of our event and interviewed two of the high school students who completed our program, Tolu Olaleye and Timothy Dock. Both students offered great insight into their experiences and showed us the importance of global exchange, especially at a time when travel is restricted.
“I really liked [guest speaker] Suchit Bachalli, who showed us how to be a good leader both in STEM and in general, and I think that’s a very important characteristic to have even if you’re not a leader and even if you’re not going into STEM, and he really emphasized that you have to be yourself. Otherwise, you’re just going to run yourself dry trying to be someone you aren’t.” -Timothy
“I think it’s very important to speak with other teenagers like myself who come from different countries, cultures, and different ways of life to see how much we have in common, but also highlight and express our differences.”
We wrapped up the tea break with a few announcements about upcoming events. The Citizen Diplomat Academy is gearing up for another exchange this summer with students in Dubai. The Expo is also being held in Dubai this year so we’re hoping to have some Philadelphia representatives as student ambassadors and cultural performers.
Also coming up is a new Diplomacy and Dialogue with another IVLP alumna, Nagham Mohanna, a journalist from Gaza who will reflect on her time here in Philadelphia as well as offer a broader perspective on the Palestinian story. Additionally, we will be hosting the Mandela Fellows this year for a virtual coffee chat, and are looking forward to having our supporters meet and talk with them this summer.
In September, we will finally be honoring Heather Templeton Dill and Jennifer Templeton Simpson at our Citizen Diplomats of The Year event. We will be highlighting more stories from more students from the Citizen Diplomat Academy and talking to Heather and Jennifer about the amazing work that the Templeton Foundation does to promote ideas around civil dialogue, big ideas, what makes people human, and how we can change the world.
“We’ve been building plenty of connections so that we can invite people back once the borders are open.”
Watch the video of this event below and read about upcoming events by checking back at our website. It was great to celebrate our amazing donors, guests, and students and we look forward to seeing YOU at our next event!