As a returning intern with Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council (GCWAC), I thought I had experienced all sides of the council’s inner workings, but I was wrong! In February 2014, I volunteered to drive and be an “ambassador hostess” for a group of visitors from Colombia who came to Cincinnati through the U.S. Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). I attended all professional appointments that day, programmed by the GCWAC, as well as, showed the visitor’s the layout of Cincinnati.
As a lover of all things internationally related, I jumped at the opportunity to meet the Colombian visitors in order to practice my rusty Spanish language skills, learn more about their culture, and hear how they felt about being here in Cincinnati. My favorite experience of the day was listening to the three visitors speak so that I could pick out what I understood, what words/phrases sounded familiar, and the parts of the Spanish language that I completely forgot. Being an International Studies major at Northern Kentucky University and having a strong connection specifically with Latin America, I was secretly thrilled every time they spoke as it made me feel like I was just hanging out in Colombia with my new friends.
I believe the most beneficial part of the day was the meeting the visitors had with the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati. The conversations between the Islamic Center staff and the Colombian visitors was filled with genuine intrigue of each other’s customs and lifestyles, as well as, a better understanding for both cultures on how each other’s organization(s) work.
The GCWAC’s work provides such wonderful opportunities (i.e. volunteer, host (ess), intern, etc.) for locals to become more aware of other cultures and to have a better understanding and appreciation about people they encounter. So, if you get the same tickle of excitement interacting with different cultures that I do, then please seriously think about volunteering with us here at the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council! We welcome all who cross through our doors.
By Kendra Hein
Kendra Hein is an undergraduate student at Northern Kentucky University and an intern at the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council.