The Georgia Council for International Visitors continued playing its role as a magnet drawing emerging foreign leaders to the state in 2019, welcoming guests from 131 countries and territories throughout the year.
Founded in 1962, GCIV administers the International Visitor Leadership Program of the U.S. State Department within Georgia. About half of GCIV’s programs are funded by the IVLP, while the nonprofit also offers paid training and exchange programs to outside organizations in Washington and beyond.
GCIV connects foreign leaders with local experts and institutions within their areas of focus, such as education, journalism, health, disaster preparedness, civil rights and many more. Example delegations from last year include Chinese cybersecurity experts, English teachers from Turkmenistan, Iraqi religious and public education advocates, Young African Leaders and Indonesian disability activists.
The organization also aims to connect Atlantans with these groups, working with a network of volunteer hosts to offer “dinner hospitality” for delegates within American homes. GCIV’s “citizen diplomat” volunteers also include professionals who pledge their time and expertise to help visiting groups.
GCIV’s year-end report notes that it hosted a total of 672 visitors on 48 different programs, about evenly split between State Department-backed programs and so-called fee-for-service offerings, like when GCIV arranged dinner hospitality for 264 visiting Fulbright scholars in January or 25 Mandela Fellows in July. Its numbers were up from 433 guests from 100 countries in 2018.
Among its other signature programs is the International Consular Ball, a black-tie affair honoring the state’s diplomatic corps, usually in the spring.
Starting up soon is the annual Great Decisions foreign policy lecture series. As state coordinator on behalf of the Foreign Policy Association, GCIV recruits a slate of local experts to speak on various topics with the goal of broadening Atlantans’ understanding of the world.
The first event Jan. 16 will focus on U.S. relations with the Philippines. All lectures are held on Thursday nights through March at Dunwoody United Methodist Church.
Learn more about GCIV at www.gciv.org or download the annual report here.
Register for Great Decisions or see the full topic list here.