November 7, 2016

American Alumni Offer Warm Boston Welcome to International Visitors

NSLI-Y alumni pose with Foreign Service Officer Bridget Gersten at a diplomatic reception for International Visitors in Boston. Pictured (L to R): Benjamin Chen, Raymond Fasano, Ryan Youkilis, Bridget Gersten (FSO), Jenna Bhaloo, and Sophie Klimasmith NSLI-Y alumni pose with Foreign Service Officer Bridget Gersten at a diplomatic reception for International Visitors in Boston. Pictured (L to R): Benjamin Chen, Raymond Fasano, Ryan Youkilis, Bridget Gersten (FSO), Jenna Bhaloo, and Sophie Klimasmith More than a dozen American alumni of U.S. government-sponsored international exchange programs greeted a group of visitors from the Middle East and North Africa on the last stop of their International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). The fifteen alumni from the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y), the Critical Language Scholarship Program (CLS) Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program (CBYX), and the YES Abroad Program joined other community members in welcoming the group to Boston, sharing cross-cultural experiences, networking, and practicing their language skills.

The diplomatic reception, hosted at The Fletcher School, Tufts University, was organized by Ryan Youkilis, a NSLI-Y Alumni Representative, in collaboration with the Department of State’s Diplomat-in-Residence in New England and WorldBoston, a non-governmental organization partner in the Global Ties U.S. network that manages the IVLP program. The IVLP group was visiting Boston to examine how government transparency and accountability are promoted in the United States.

In addition to informal networking, various speakers also discussed the impact international exchanges have had on their lives both personally and professionally, and in promoting global understanding across cultures. One of the speakers, Foreign Service Officer and current Senior Fellow at the Fletcher School Bridget Gersten, spoke of cultural exchange as “the golden key of public diplomacy.” She explained later that “talking to these youth and our IVLP guests, I could not help but be reminded of the durability and deep roots of exchanges.” You can read more about Bridget’s impressions of the event and the power of international exchanges in her DipNote blog.