By Lauren Berlak
World Learning partners with the U.S. Department of State to implement International Visitor Leadership Programs that increase communication and mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and people of other countries. Each program supports the professional development of individual participants while meeting State Department foreign policy goals and objectives.
Fnyees Al-Ajmi says he clearly remembers the moment he got the call from the American Embassy in Kuwait to be part of the 2012 IVLP program.
“I felt the importance of this program as I was a representative of my country, Kuwait, and the other six Gulf states,” he said. “I realized the heavy burden of being a representative and the responsibility that I carried on my shoulders to convey the right and nice picture of my country.”
Al-Ajmi, a consultant for the National Union of Kuwait Workers and Employees, was one of 29 young leaders from 29 countries selected for the three-week program.
As part of the program, Al-Ajmi and his fellow participants traveled to Greensboro, North Carolina, to meet with the Mayor and observe polling procedures for the 2012 U.S. Presidential election. They examined the U.S. political and electoral process, political activism and campaigns, and the importance of transparency in politics.
As they made other stops across the U.S., the participants became familiar with the diversity of the country through cultural immersion. Al-Ajmi noted that each state offered a unique variety of experiences, such as meeting with professional counterparts from various political backgrounds, visiting houses of worship, engaging in community service at a homeless shelter, sharing meals in family homes, and attending cultural events.
“I saw the real picture of the American society, away from any negative impact the media can show,”Al-Ajmi said. “We met people here from all backgrounds, different religions, and ethnicities. All of us witnessed that the U.S. is the country of accepting others. No one judges you by your name, color, or religion. Here the human relation is the norm.”