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Welcome Back World Campaign

In-person exchanges were paused in February 2020 due to the corona virus pandemic. We're excited to plan for their return in 2022!

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COVID-19 Brief: Impact on Exchange Programs

The global Covid-19 pandemic has had an immediate and acute impact on international exchange programs and participants – thousands of them through the State Department’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs (ECA) programs.

In-person exchange programs that historically brought 500-1,000 international professionals to Philadelphia froze in February 2020, when countries closed borders, put travel bans in place to designated countries and airlines cancelled flights. Changemakers and students isolated. Progress in human rights, education, free speech - all the tenets of democracy halted and delayed.

Thanks to technology, from August 2020 through the present, one-on-one meetings between professionals in ECA programs, like the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), have been held virtually.

Virtual or in-person, exchange brings together dedicated community leaders sharing information and ideas across borders seeking to cure our world’s biggest challenges. Students reaching out to learn a greater understanding of how people around the world are living. That’s the mission and heart of Citizen Diplomacy.

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The Future of International Exchange

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We have already made adjustments for coronavirus including arrival quarantines, socially distanced and hybrid meetings, mandatory mask-wearing and readily available hand sanitizer, and vaccine requirements.

While a return to pre-pandemic levels of international exchange will not be immediate, we are planning and hoping for a safe return to in-person exchange in March 2022.

If you asked us what an ideal exchange looks like, we would say "one that touches Philadelphians from every walk of life - government representatives, business leaders, students, and the public."

That is exactly what our first pilot exchange since covid shutdowns was able to achieve. A delegation of 15 German police officers and nonprofit representatives visited Philadelphia and the surrounding region in October 2021 to discuss solutions and best practices in community policing. Their 7-day itinerary brought them to a home in Kensington to the Union League and included conversations with a diverse mix of leaders, including the Philadelphia and Camden County police departments and Councilmember Jamie Gauthier.

Read more on the blog >

International exchanges beyond Covid-19

Today, I am asking you to make a special donation of $25, $50, or $100 so Philadelphia is prepared to welcome back in-person international exchange delegations.

International education and collaboration need you in 2022.

Will you help Philadelphia be ready in March to welcome back our international visitors in-person? Will you make sure we can continue our virtual exchanges into the future?

To keep programs operating, every Philadelphian who has lived abroad, studied abroad, or has friends or clients abroad needs to join in our Welcome Back efforts.

It is up to you to keep Philadelphia connected to the world.

Please donate today!

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