This blog is for those wanting to keep up to date on all the work that the Vermont Council on World Affairs is doing around the world.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Becoming a Visitor to my Own State with IVL

Kathryn Ashley McNeish, Intern for VCWA

Beginning in May, I started working directly with the Vermont Council on World Affair’s International Visitor Leadership Program, and had the opportunity to travel around the state of Vermont with our many international visitors. I got to use my camera and take photos of the  many meetings and activities our visitors participated in. I have worked with nearly a dozen different IVLP Projects, including singular countries and multi-national groups, and have personally met nearly 80 people from different countries around the world. Visitors came from places such as Greece, Uganda, the Maldives, the Netherlands, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Morocco, China, Kazakhstan, and many more.
The projects offered me insight to various aspects to Vermont’s culture. Groups came focusing on a variety of different subjects, including sustainable agriculture, women’s health,  disability advocacy, renewable energy, social and economic entrepreneurship, international trade, NGO management, tourism and economic development among many others. As a Vermonter, having the opportunity to get to travel to farms, the State House, and different programs all around the state has introduced me to an enormous amount of Vermont culture and the state’s role to society as a whole. 
Not only have I learned more about my home state, I have also met some incredible people along the way. I’ve had insightful and eye-opening conversations with people who have lived in a society vastly  different than Vermont. I met one woman named Lia Zampetoglou who was here from SETE in Athens, Greece, a program that works with promoting a healthy Greek tourism economy, and enjoyed the small town feel of Burlington and learning about Vermont’s growing tourism industry.
I also met Ignasi Calbó Toryano, the Director of the Barcelona City Refuge Program in Spain. I got to talk to him about his interests in how Vermont handles the pressing global issue of refugee resettlement, and how the US’s perspectives and methods of combatting this issue compare and contrast with those of Spain’s.
It’s been a privilege having the opportunity to meet so many people, learn about Vermont, and contribute to my role as an #802Diplomat throughout my experience with IVLP.