International Visitor Leadership Program

by Sherry Mueller
This month it was my privilege to work with a group of 23 NGO leaders hosted by the U.S. Department of State. This included making a keynote presentation and guiding a discussion in person at the beginning of their three-week journey and, also, conducting a Synthesis Reflection Session at the end of the trip via Zoom.
These remarkably talented and courageous individuals were participants in the International Visitor Leadership Program. Marta Pereyma at State along with her program agency colleagues at CRDF did an excellent job of orchestrating an engaging and substantively rich set of experiences for participants in this multiregional project.
At a time when the U.S. Congress has regrettably reduced funding for this flagship public diplomacy program, it is instructive to share (with his permission) the moving farewell message that MRP participant Salah Eddine Bakor of Morocco sent to fellow participants. I believe his message encapsulates the experience of the entire group and demonstrates the power of the program to strengthen civil society:

Now I wanted to take a moment to express my heartfelt gratitude and share how incredible this IVLP has been with all of you.
We started this program as a cohort, but we have truly become a family.

To be honest, I didn't expect such a strong bond to form between us in such a short time. But the connections we've built, the laughter we've shared, and the support we've shown one another have surpassed all my expectations. Each of you has brought something unique and special to this experience, and I'm truly grateful to have gotten to know you.
From the engaging discussions and thought-provoking sessions to the late-night conversations and shared meals, every moment spent together has been memorable. We have challenged and inspired each other, and I'm in awe of the wealth of knowledge and diverse perspectives each one of you brings to the table.
This program has not only broadened my understanding of the US but has also shown me the power of collaboration, friendship, and unity. Together, we have created an environment of trust, respect, and camaraderie that I will cherish forever.
Thank you, my dear IVLP family, for making these three weeks one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I look forward to the journey ahead, and I'm excited to see the impact we will make individually and collectively.
Let's continue to support and uplift one another, even after the program ends because it’s just the beginning. Stay in touch, share your successes, and remember that we are always here for each other. Together, we can accomplish great things!