As an intern for the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council (GCWAC), I am able to further my knowledge much through the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). IVLP is the U.S. Department of State’s premier global professional exchange program that seeks to promote mutual understanding between the United States and other nations. To learn more about IVLP, click here!
After helping coordinate the international visitors coming into town for their professional programs, I had the opportunity to meet with these wonderful individuals and join them on their professional meetings. These meetings vary depending on the type of program. Fortunately, every program always provides me with a new opportunity to learn and interact with great individuals from a different culture. During my time with the visitors, I help show the culture in the United States and specifically showcase the Greater Cincinnati region.
Being an intern at GCWAC is extremely interesting. I have learned much during my time here at the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council and I am very excited to further my knowledge even more throughout the duration of my internship.
Throughout my internship, I am able to be an Ambassador for our region. The first program that I helped coordinate was “The United States Experience in Supporting Military Veterans”. This program included seven international visitors from Ukraine, along with two interpreters. While the Ukrainian delegates were in town, I joined the group in their professional meetings with the following:
- Hamilton County Municipal Veterans Court
- Staff of Senator Rob Portman, a meeting with the University of Cincinnati’s Veterans Program staff
- City of Cincinnati with the Vice-Mayor of Cincinnati
It was an amazing opportunity to meet so many vital leaders in the Greater Cincinnati region! All of these meetings were very enlightening and it was interesting to see the differences, but more importantly the similarities between our cultures.
Being a Political Science and International Affairs major, I am extremely interested in learning more about culture and politics. The visitors were extremely helpful in providing many great viewpoints. Additionally, we had a great time bonding over some similar interests that we had. I was even able to recommend some fun things for them to do while they were in town. I really enjoyed being with the Ukrainian delegates for the day!
One of the most interesting professional appointments for this program was discussing with the University of Cincinnati’s Veterans Program staff. I am a student at the University of Cincinnati, so it was very interesting to hear about all of the outstanding programs and opportunities that are available for military veterans at the University of Cincinnati.
Fun fact: There are currently 2,034 veterans at the University of Cincinnati.
A service that is available for military veterans that was discussed during the meeting included, VITAL: Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership. VITAL is a veteran-centered, results oriented, collaboration between the Cincinnati VA Medical Center (CVAMC) and higher education. They strive to enhance academic retention and success.
VITAL was created to help veterans resolve issues and find resources. Furthermore, veterans at the University of Cincinnati obtain many other benefits such as tuition assistance, employment opportunities, medical benefits, tax exemptions, a housing alliance, etc.
Our Ukrainian visitors were surprised to see how much is done for the military veterans at the university level here in the United States as well as through our government. The Ukrainian delegates explained that in Ukraine there is not many benefits or programs placed for military veterans.
The Ministry of Defense helps the military veterans to a certain extent, but the Ministry of Education has no part of supporting military veterans unlike the United States. The delegates were excited to bring these ideas back to Ukraine in order to aid in creating local legislature to help military veterans. This professional meeting not only aided our international visitors, but also provided the University of Cincinnati’s Veterans Program staff with some great viewpoints as well.
In general, my experience at the GCWAC has been great so far. I have had the opportunity to meet many inspiring and emerging leaders from around the world. Attending meetings with the international visitors has not only introduced me to terrific individuals and given me insight to other cultures, but also helped me see the wonderful offerings that the Greater Cincinnati region has.
I am looking forward to help bring even more international visitors to the Greater Cincinnati region, to personally meet with more visitors from around the world, and to also further my knowledge on a variety of topics as I continue my internship with the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council. This really has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
Written by Eleni Panagiotopoulou, Global Exchange Intern, Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council.
Eleni is an undergraduate student in her senior year at the University of Cincinnati majoring in Political Science and International Affairs.