By Rachel O’Heran, IVLP intern
Part of what drew me into my internship with the International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP) at The International Center were the ample opportunities to work with the international community. Through my studies, I have worked with individuals from African and Asian cultures. Although I thoroughly enjoy my work with both of these regions, I wanted to broaden my experience and to work hand in hand with individuals from all a variety of cultures. Over the past four years, I have been exposed to many cultures that call Indianapolis home, and it has been amazing to see the international growth that has taken place in Indianapolis and to work with the organizations that are allowing this growth to happen.
As The International Center strives to inform, convene, and connect the Indiana population to a vast global network, the IVLP department has been in full swing working to implement these actions. During recent international visitor programs that included individuals from Japan, China, and Romania, these individuals had the pleasure of experiencing the Hoosier lifestyle first hand. In addition to meeting with professional resources in their concentrated fields, the IVLP participants also had the opportunity to be invited by Indianapolis families to enjoy a home cooked dinner. These home hospitality dinners offer an opportunity for cross cultural exchanges by both parties. As the IVLP intern, I had the pleasure of accompanying a Romanian delegation to a home hospitality.
Upon arriving at the home of our hosts, immediately I could see the appreciation from both parties. Everyone was eager to give their thanks and to show their appreciation. The early part of the evening was filled with delicious appetizers and good conversation, setting the tone for a lovely evening. Being a college student, I appreciated the home cooked meal, but what I took most out of the evening was the chance to be exposed to an experience that included individuals from all walks of life, possessing very different careers, with diverse life experiences. Being able to openly talk about matters happening both internationally and within our own countries, I found myself reflecting on how we as a society view these differences. Although we may have diverse values and traditions, these are all characteristics that make us unique. Being able to share these customs with another individual is a beautiful thing.
At the end of the night, as I drove our participants home, they beamed with happiness. Witnessing their pure enjoyment from their evening granted a sense of a hopeful future. As an organization, The International Center is working to educate, connect, and promote relationships with the global community. With each connection and relationship that The Center helps foster, it is a step to creating community that is not only limited to Indiana, but actually extends across borders.