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June 2024


Expand Your World Today

In this Issue...

  • Quote of the Month
  • Photo of the Month
  • International Mixer in Torrance
  • Sharing a Global Perspective
  • ICDLA Alumni Insights
  • Global Ties U.S. Mentorship Program
  • Welcome ICDLA Summer Intern
  • Upcoming International Programs
  • Are you a U.S. Citizen Exchange Alumni?
  • Community Events

Click the button below to check out our past newsletters:

Past Newsletters

Quote of the Month

“People here are very helpful and happy. The gaming sector in the U.S. is huge and there are a lot of funds given by different organizations to other countries to enable digital platforms."

~A visitor from Pakistan in May 2024, for the IVLP project 'Bridging the Gender Divide through Inclusion of Women Entrepreneurs in Gaming, Tech, and Freelancing'

Photo of the Month

Our IVLP visitor from Pakistan, Naureen Ashraf, visiting Hollywood.

International Mixer in Torrance

Join us for the special mixer to welcome our Indo-Pacific participants who are visiting the U.S. for the Secure and Sustainable Infrastructure for Ports project.

ICDLA is honored to partner with the City of Torrance as we celebrate the power of global dialogue. Meet and mingle with ICDLA members, friends, and special guests from Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka who are leaders in port security and infrastructure.

Expand your world while enjoying light refreshments and building connections at this International Evening.

Mary K. Giordano Transit Center

465 Crenshaw Blvd.

Torrance, CA 90509

June 11th, 2024

5:30 PM - 8 PM

Register Here

Sharing a Global Perspective

Global Democracy and Citizen Diplomacy

Participants of the Open World program from Poland on a Social Inclusion project.

Uncertainty in the world is something we are all trying to deal with. This year more than 60 nations will hold, or have already held, critical elections – and for those where democracy is facing ongoing challenges, uncertainty runs high. Ghana, Indonesia, Mexico, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom, and the United States are prime examples. In these countries, the big question is whether the elections will fuel greater democratic shakiness or create a firmer democratic footing.

Democracies are in decline around the world, so some elections such as those in India, the U.K., and the U.S. attract wide international attention. As democracies face serious challenges public diplomacy initiatives, such as ICDLA’s exchange programs, are key tools in advancing democratic values globally. They cultivate leaders who support democratic principles such as inclusive and representative governance, truthful media, and minority rights. Diplomacy plays an important role in promoting democracy.

One hopeful example of regaining democratic values took place with Poland’s election in December. At stake was ending the far-right Law & Justice Party’s eight-year rule, which was eroding democratic governance. The Law and Justice Party was taking control of the courts in ways that violated the Constitution. They were also politicizing state institutions such as taxpayer-funded public media, which it used as a propaganda tool to praise itself and vilify opponents.

Election turnout was nearly 75%. It even surpassed the 63% voter turnout in 1989 which triggered the collapse of the Soviet-backed communist system. At one electoral district in last year’s election, a long line remained when the polls closed at 9:00 p.m. However, Polish law allows the right to vote for those in line by 9:00. So, in that district, the last vote was finally cast at 3:00 a.m.! The election outcome ended Law and Justice’s rule, with three opposition parties together winning over 54% of the votes. They have vowed to restore democratic standards in Poland.

ICDLA was watching Poland’s election closely, as we knew how important it was for our 2022 Open World group of Polish participants on the topic of Social Inclusion and LGBTQIA+ Rights. We reached out to one of our alumni Milosz Przepiorkowski who shared with us his great relief that Law and Justice lost power. Milosz is the head of Lambda Warszawa, the oldest association in Poland dedicated to LGBTQIA+ rights. It strongly focuses on psychological and legal support as well as advocacy, and it also assists LGBTQIA+ Ukrainian refugees. Milosz added, “We also remain cautious because conservatives did win. It won't be easy, but we won't stop fighting for our rights.”

A volunteer supporting Senate candidate Adam Bodnar offers morning commuters stickers that are the symbol of the opposition Civic Coalition outside a metro station in Warsaw, Poland, on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

The result was also a huge relief for the concern about the country’s international isolation at a time of war across the border in Ukraine, and the Law and Order’s strain with the European Union. Many feared it could lead to Poland’s eventual exit from the E.U. The outcomes of many of this year’s elections will be critical to the advancement or retreat of democracies worldwide and the intensifying or easing of security tensions in multiple regions. 

Our hope is the Polish people’s ability to turn around a slide towards authoritarianism can be replicated this year in nations around the world. Although uncertainty remains, with the help of strong citizen diplomats, democratic breakdown is not inevitable.

ICDLA Alumni Insights

Last August Sven Erichson, Project Manager for Enterprise Europe Network from Magdeburg, Germany, participated in the IVLP group project Innovation in U.S. Energy and Transportation Sectors. The group’s program included meetings with Emmett Institute at UCLA, the Port of Los Angeles, the California State Los Angeles Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility, IQAir, and Caltrans. Sven shared with ICDLA his reflections since returning home on the valuable insights he gained during his time in Los Angeles.

Sven found the meetings at the Port of Los Angeles and Caltrans particularly impactful. At the Port, they discussed the ambitious plans to transform the Port to a greener transportation hub. As the largest port on the West Coast and one of the largest in the country, the Port of Los Angeles faces challenges that can only be addressed through sustainable and ecologically conscious traffic planning. “The Port’s goal to become carbon-free is not only impressive but also serves as an excellent example for the inland port of Magdeburg, with which I collaborate closely.”, Sven shared.

During their meeting with Caltrans, they received information on transport planning in California, highlighting significant challenges, particularly in individual and public transportation. Sven was impressed by Caltrans’ forward-thinking approach, aiming for a future where only 100% zero-emission vehicles are permitted for sale and registration in California by 2035. “This remarkable progress sets a standard and serves as a role model for the entire United States.”, he noted.

Sven's participation in the IVLP profoundly influenced his professional path and goals. He emphasized the importance of visiting a prominent world hub for research and development, stating, “The ideas conceived and discussed here exert a significant influence on global development. The insights I gained will be invaluable back home, as I share my experiences with colleagues at the Magdeburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry, fostering an exchange of knowledge that could lead to innovative projects in sustainable transportation.”

ICDLA is proud to have hosted Sven and his colleagues and their journey through the IVLP is a testament to the profound impact of international exchange programs. As Sven remarked, “Cultural exchange serves as a powerful tool for promoting understanding, empathy, and collaboration among diverse communities. It helps break down stereotypes and misconceptions, fostering a more accurate and empathetic perception of different groups.”

Global Ties U.S. Mentorship Program

As ICDLA’s Director of International Programs, Danica Kreculj (on the left) participated in the Global Ties U.S. (GTUS) Mentorship Program. In October 2023 Danica was matched with Loren Kupferschmid, Senior Manager of Global Engagement at the Baltimore World Trade Center Institute (WTCI). The mentorship was designed to match experienced staff leaders such as Danica, who has been with ICDLA for nine years, with new staff in the GTUS network such as Loren, who has been with WTCI for less than 2 years. The program allowed them to share experiences and tips that will help enhance programming skills for the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) and other international exchange programs. They also had the opportunity to learn about the similarities and differences of each organization.

Over the months Danica and Loren met through Zoom meetings to discuss each organization's internal operations, program implementation, and the nuances of the IVLP. The program ended last month with the opportunity for Loren to visit Los Angeles where she was able to meet the ICDLA staff, attend a staff meeting, and gain information about some of ICDLA’s current and future strategies. ICDLA staff was also able to learn about her work in Baltimore. Everyone enjoyed the experience of sharing common issues, concerns, and successes. 

Welcome ICDLA Summer Intern

ICDLA is happy to welcome Ryan Hwang our new summer intern. Ryan is an undergraduate student pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in International Relations and Economics at Pomona College. During his studies, he has been actively involved in leadership roles at the Federal Asian Pacific American Council and Young Asian Pacific American Leaders, where he has contributed to community development projects and conducted policy research.

"In my studies of global affairs and diplomacy, I discovered that most people (including myself initially), believe that diplomacy happens solely on the high level: by Ambassadors, Presidents, and the Secretary of State. Upon further research, I believe this is a misconception of many, as citizens do the same with great programs like the IVLP. Therefore, I wanted to further explore this form of grassroots diplomacy through interning at ICDLA.", Ryan shared.

Additionally, he has played a key role at the STEDU Association, an educational non-profit organization dedicated to providing accessible opportunities in the STEM field. Currently, Ryan is a research assistant for a project sponsored by the Korea Foundation and administered by the UCLA International Institute, where he investigates the supply chain dynamics and geopolitical relations of China and South Korea. His diverse experiences reflect his dedication to international affairs and community engagement. In his free time, Ryan plays the piano and enjoys playing basketball with his friends.

Upcoming International Programs

The following are international guests of the U.S. government and other diplomatic organizations whose professional appointments in Los Angeles will be arranged by

International Citizen Diplomacy of Los Angeles

June 2024

June 8 - June 13: Secure and Sustainable Infrastructure for Ports

Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka

June 26 - June 29: Clean Energy


June 26 - June 30: Intellectual Property and the Creative Economy

Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria

ICDLA knows it is important to maintain our connections with our international visitors beyond their programs. As such, ICDLA continues to reach out to our international alumni. If you are an Alumni who would like to share your thoughts about your L.A. experience, or if you are an ICDLA member or resource who has stayed in touch with alumni and would like to share your experience, please contact Kristina Yucel at kyucel@icdla.org.

Are you a U.S. Citizen Exchange Alumni?

Did You Participate in a U.S. Government-sponsored Exchange Program?

Career Connections brings together U.S. Exchange Alumni and leaders in business, government, civil society, and other diverse fields to leverage their skills and networks. Programming is offered in two formats: virtual (Career Connections Global+) and in-person (Career Connections) as part of the U.S. Exchange Alumni Network and Capacity Building Program, which is implemented in partnership with the Office of Alumni Affairs in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. ICDLA is assisting by reaching out to our Greater Los Angeles alumni.

There are two in-person events planned this year: 

  • June 20-21 | Washington, DC | Careers in Federal Government

The Washington, DC event occurs annually at the U.S. Department of State. 

  • September 26-27 | Detroit, MI

Hosted in partnership with Global Ties Detroit 

To participate in Career Connections and Career Connections Global+ programming, attendees must be U.S. citizen Exchange Alumni. You will be asked about your U.S. alumni program when applying for these events.

If you are a past participant in a U.S. government-sponsored exchange program contact Kristina Yucel, kyucel@icdla.org. Whether you participated long ago or you recently completed your exchange program, we will keep you informed of opportunities such as events, programs, and grants.

Learn More

U.S. citizen ExchangeAlumni are encouraged to sign up for the Alumni Resource Center (ARC), an online career development hub. ARC provides ExchangeAlumni with courses, trainings, and other resources to develop professional skills and abilities, market themselves, and explore careers in and outside of public service.

Click the button below to learn more.

Learn More

U.S. Exchange Alumni: Fill Out Public Speaking Interest Form

Are you a U.S. Exchange Alumni looking for public speaking opportunities? Fill out a brief interest form to be added to the U.S. ExchangeAlumni speaker library, and you might have the chance to speak at future alumni-focused events.

Interest Form

Community Events

California Turkish Festival

Join the celebration of the vibrant tapestry of Turkiye.

Indulge in the tantalizing aroma and rich flavor of Turkish coffee, brewed according to ancient traditions that have been passed down through generations. Try delicious Turkish cuisine from savory kebabs to decadent desserts and discover the culinary delights that have delighted palates for centuries.

Experience the warmth and hospitality of Turkish culture firsthand and create lasting memories at the California Turkish Festival. Bring your entire family and let them delight in the sights, sounds, and flavors of Turkish culture. From grandparents to grandchildren, there's something for everyone to enjoy.

ShoreLine Aquatic Park

200 Aquarium Way,

Long Beach, CA 90802

June 9th, 2024

11:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Learn More

International Citizen Diplomacy of Los Angeles depends on its members and friends to help support its programs. If you are not an ICDLA Citizen Diplomat, please review our membership benefits here and consider joining. We need your support now more than ever! Please make a contribution today.


Editor: Kristina Yucel

Communications & Events Coordinator

Share your comments with me at kyucel@icdla.org

International Citizen Diplomacy

of Los Angeles




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