August 1-3, 2021, Columbia Council for Internationals (CCFI) was fortunate to be included in the first International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) in-person group in 16 months. This was my first in-person program, and I was very fortunate to work with two experienced, professional liaisons and six lively, engaged, and personable Nigerian visitors on the IVLP project “Human Rights and Civic Engagement in Youth.”
This in-person program went extremely well. With safety as a priority, mask protocols were adhered to at all times — we were very careful to ensure everyone with whom they interacted wore masks — and all participants tested negative prior to their return flight home.
The visitors met with State Senator John Scott, Jr at the SC State house. Senator Scott spoke to them about the structure, history and diversity of the legislature. Don Caughman gave them a tour of the state house and grounds.
The group photo was taken at the end of my favorite part of their visit at the Youth Corps, an organization that conducts a one-year learning program for high school students in the tenth and eleventh grades. The interactive session was enthusiastically led by Youth Corps staff and alumni. After a very lively ice-breaker, the staff and alumni shared their experiences with each of the program’s nine monthly, themed modules, which includes topics such as community service and the arts. These modules were presented to the group with experiential exercises that fully engaged all the participants. In fact, the participants had so many questions, we finally had to end the session in order to get them to their next stop.
CCFI sponsored a home hospitality event that evening, attended by a number of CCFI Board members and some of the program participants. I was honored to have this dynamic group in my home, and the event could only be judged a big success. Hosting IVLP groups in-person again is a reminder of the power of face-to-face connection.
– Sewell Gelberd, Program Director for International Visitors