-Georgia Gives Day!-

December 5, 2012


Think of GCIV during your end-of-the-year holiday giving and help us to continue to support Citizen Diplomacy in Georgia! Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to GCIV, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and Georgia’s host to hundreds of emerging leaders from around the world!

Thank you for your support!

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-GCIV: 50 Years of Global Relationships-

December 3, 2012

The article below written by GCIV’s Board of Trustees Chair Lindsay Davidson was featured in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on November 30, 2012.

Fifty years ago, Atlanta’s population was just over a million people and the city was at the epicenter of a rising civil rights movement.

Intent on a better future, local leaders began fostering Atlanta’s reputation as a “city too busy to hate,” and turned their aspirations to creating something much bigger than a sleepy Southern town besieged by racial strife. So began their efforts to make Atlanta a true international city, by embracing transatlantic relationships and business long before many other cities had even considered the global arena.

At that same time, a new organization was formed in Atlanta called the Georgia Council for International Visitors (GCIV). Its mission of 50 years ago is the same today — to create valuable international experiences and opportunities for the people of Georgia and emerging leaders around the world.

Simply translated, that means building international connectivity through person-to-person relationships, one handshake at a time. As a nonprofit, GCIV strives to provide meaningful exchanges that open new dialogues, foster unique educational opportunities and create a network of emerging global leaders dedicated to effecting positive change in their home countries.

Through its programs, GCIV welcomes more than 500 emerging leaders from more than 100 countries each year. Over the course of six decades, more than 360 program participants have gone on to become presidents or prime ministers of their countries, including France’s Nicolas Sarkozy, India’s Manmohan Singh and Mexico’s Felipe Calderon.

GCIV plays an instrumental role in supporting U.S. foreign policy goals through its management of the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) here in Georgia. The IVLP brings some 5,000 professionals from all over the world to America to meet with professional counterparts across a host of industries and sectors, from government and business, to education and the arts.
As a supporter of GCIV, Invesco has hosted economic experts from four Caribbean nations, as well as financial analysts from Italy. During these visits, we showcased best practices that matched the professional interests of our distinguished guests. We believe that the relationships started on these visits will result in opportunities that keep Atlanta at the forefront of global competition.

The experiences that GCIV offers to foreign visitors are truly unique and powerful, in part because they provide a way to learn firsthand how business and culture really operate in America. Through a network of “citizen diplomats,” GCIV organizes home visits and exchanges that bring visitors into typical American homes and foster lasting connections and friendships.

My own family has hosted visitors at our dinner table from the United Kingdom, Denmark, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Germany, Malaysia and Paraguay. Multiply those visits by the thousands facilitated annually by GCIV and you’ll begin to understand the integral role they play in supporting Atlanta’s international vision and also how much our city has grown in stature and importance on the global stage.

That Atlanta is poised to do well in a world where communications, business and opportunities are global in nature is in no small part due to the relationships started and nurtured by GCIV.

As GCIV celebrates its 50th anniversary, I urge you to learn more about the organization and how you can become a citizen diplomat, helping our city in its strategy and goal to remain a global leader. GCIV will celebrate its 2013 International Consular Ball on April 27 at the World of Coca-Cola. Each year this prestigious event honors our consular corps and the important role they play in our city. I am pleased to report that Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has recently been named honorary chair of the event. Please join us! www.gciv.org.

Davidson is chair of the Georgia Council for International Visitors Board of Trustees and managing director, global equity, at Invesco Global Asset Management.

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-An Evening To Remember-

October 26, 2012


Almost a year ago, on November 5, 2011, our family hosted three Fulbright Scholars for dinner in our home. Why am I writing about this now? Because, remarkably, the evening is still being discussed. I asked our high school senior recently what he remembers about that evening that seems to have made a lasting impression. I am sharing his reflections below:

Our three guests that evening were all PhD’s with a gift for conversation. As dinner progressed, the discussion took its own course. Kent, who teaches in Taiwan, brought a sense of humor that helped break the tension that naturally exists when language is a barrier. He talked about “a smaller world as cultural boundaries are lowered by programs sponsored by organizations such as the GCIV.” Yuchi, from Japan, used two forks as chopsticks! An Economics professor on a one-year research grant in the US, he spoke about the importance of “patience and perseverance” in achieving goals. Labon is from Kenya and was here to study and teach at Texas A&M. His style was unique and captivating. He discussed the importance of a well rounded education, how parenting fits in, and the power of ambition and passion. As an educator, Labon brought perspective to our questions about why math is relevant, about religion, and about racial divides. He told us that “moral and spiritual literacy are very important in life.” He stressed that “one must infuse their own personality by doing it in their own way.” In explaining that sometimes “concepts trump specialization,” he described how Steve Jobs was influenced by the art of calligraphy, which gave him the idea of creating fonts and other features in his software design.

At the end of the evening, we exchanged emails with the Scholars, each of whom invited us to visit their native countries so they could “return the hospitality.” Needless to say, it was an experience that made an impact on all of us, and it contained lessons about life from three unique cultural perspectives. The world indeed seemed a bit smaller after opening our doors to these strangers who, by the end of the evening, left as friends.

We thank the Georgia Council for International Visitors for this opportunity.

The Handler Family, Atlanta


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-My Trip To Morocco-

October 25, 2012


Over the summer of 2012, my dream came true. With the help of GCIV, my family, and my teachers I was awarded the NSLI-Y scholarship, granting me the chance to study Arabic in Morocco for six weeks with the U.S government’s Department of State. This opportunity allowed me to experience the Middle Eastern culture and practice the language first handedly along with others my age that shared the same interests and motivations. I met dedicated and resourceful teachers, dedicated and unique students, and a loving extended Moroccan family during my time there.

I strongly recommend the GCIV for anyone seeking connections to other languages and cultures; it provides a unique entrance into a world of programs, mentors, and students. I thank Georgia Council of International Visitors for my experiences abroad and my proficiency in Arabic.


Cecilia Kuehnel


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-GCIV History: Part II, 2010 to Present-

September 30, 2012

This is the final installment of a two-part series chronicling the history of GCIV from 1998 to the present. Click here to read the first part!

In 2010 a new program called TODAY I MET… was started which involved taking international visitors to elementary, middle and high schools of the metro Atlanta area. In the two years of existence more than 150 visitors have met with local students. In 2011 GCIV received the Governor’s International Award for this program presented by the Atlanta Business Chronicle and the World Trade Center Atlanta.

In addition to international visitors programs there are several ongoing community programs sponsored by GCIV:

  • The Annual International Consular Ball, held in the spring which honors the members of the Consular Corps. Attended by 300 or more, this is a gala affair which raises funds for GCIV and honors the honorary and career consuls and their spouses.
  • The Great Decisions Discussion Groups, with more than 20 venues, around the state meet for eight sessions to discuss international topics from a briefing book published by the Foreign Policy Association. In connection with these discussion groups there is a series of 8 lectures at the Dunwoody United Methodist Church using local foreign policy experts which are open to the public.
  • Every month members of GCIV meet at local ethnic restaurants for an International Dining Experience. This is an informal way for members to get to know each other, to meet international visitors in town at that time and to explore new ethnic eating venues.
  • For years GCIV has had two or three college interns who work throughout the year in the office. Most of them come from Georgia State, Georgia Tech or Oglethorpe and help out with the programming of visitors and special projects.
  • Featuring our visitors, the Global Lunch Forums, a brown bag lunch event held about once a month, was started by Shell Stuart. This is a very successful way to welcome our visitors in a casual setting and to help out members get to know the visitors and to learn from them.
  • Started in 2005 the ENVOYS, a group for our younger members meets once a month in a social setting, often with the visitors who are in town at that time. They have about 75 members and often provide transportation for visitors to their home hospitality appointments.
  • One of the longest running programs of GCIV is the International Women Associates. This group grew out of the International Student Bureau program for teaching English to the wives of international students. Some of the current members date back to that time. Membership is comprised of half international women and half US-born women who have traveled or lived abroad. Wives of Consular Corps members are invited to meetings, which are held in private homes with conversation, a speaker and lunch provided by the members. Membership is kept to about 100.

As GCIV celebrates the 50th anniversary of its founding, members can be proud of the accomplishments of the organization and of the thousands of visitors who have been introduced to “Southern Hospitality” by our citizen diplomats.

Please leave comments or email us with your GCIV memories and we’ll feature them in a future blog!

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