Program areas at Meridian International Center
International visitor leadership program (ivlp):for 60 years, Meridian has been a principal partner in implementing the International visitor leadership program (ivlp), the u.s. department of state's premier professional exchange program. Working with the bureau of educational and cultural affairs (eca), Meridian annually develops and administers ivlp projects for approximately 1,800 emerging International leaders, which is about one-third of the total program. The participants come to the u.s. from 172 countries around the world and represent diverse fields including government, politics, media, education and the judiciary, among other sectors. Meridian's efforts include designing and developing program content, introducing the visitors to american society and culture, and managing the program's logistics. Topics of the projects are diverse, and in 2019 the most common themes were women leaders, education, countering violent extremism, trafficking in persons, and journalism. Among the year's 215 projects, the highlights included:-towards a more safe and secure world initiative explored cooperative efforts to combat transnational crime and to promote International peace and security-women's empowerment through sports journalism focused on the role that sports and journalism play in empowering women's advancement-a regional project for the middle east on political cartooning involved themes of freedom of speech and capturing current political events through the power of journalism
Cultural diplomacy programs:the Meridian Center for cultural diplomacy is the leading Center in the u.s. that employs the arts and culture as a tool of diplomacy and cross-cultural understanding. The Center collaborates with embassies, governments and the private sector to curate cultural diplomacy exhibitions, delegations, and programs around the world. From vibrant art exhibitions to film screenings, exchanges and concerts, Meridian's cultural programs advance diplomacy goals by providing a common language that breaks down barriers and brings people together through shared interests and values. These programs have reached millions of people in more than 388 host venues in 42 u.s. states and 64 countries. Major cultural programs in 2019 included the looking back, look forward: celebrating 40 years of u.s.-china relations exhibition, a retrospective on forty years of u.s.-china relations shown through diplomatic exchanges and cultural ties. The exhibition opened in fuzhou in partnership with the u.s. embassy in beijing accompanied by an interactive app for visitors to use in the gallery space. Meridian also celebrated 70 years of bilateral relations with the 70 for 70: celebrating the 70th anniversary of u.s.-indonesia relations 1949-2019 exhibition which included a 12-part podcast series and an online digital platform.in addition, Meridian organized hip hop exchanges in australia, dominican republic, jordan, mexico, russia, and turkey through next level, a program organized in partnership with the u.s. department of state and the university of north carolina at chapel hill. Other cultural programs included Meridian's annual chinese new year celebration with the embassy of the people's republic of china, a social media influencer delegation to the united arab emirates to explore the country's vibrant arts culture, and a delegation of swedish journalists to Washington, dc to explore american media.meridian continues to diversify its cultural offerings with both the public and private sectors and remains a vital partner for the u.s. government in developing programs to support u.s. foreign policy goals.
Customized exchange and training programs:during 2019, Meridian partnered with the u.s. department of state, the u.s. trade and development agency, u.s. embassies, local and International ngos, International institutions and private sector organizations to deliver customized exchange and training programs to educate rising leaders from around the world. These programs provide opportunities for hundreds of participants to interact with u.s. Counterparts, learn from mentors and return home to make an impact in local business, political, and social sectors. Programs included targeted training, reporting tours, and alumni follow-on activities. During 2019, Meridian implemented just over 100 of these projects, engaging with 1260 participants from 89 countries.meridian concluded the three-year youth leaders of the americas (ylai) program. Ylai welcomed 250 entrepreneurs from latin america and the caribbean (lac) to the united states for a four-week apprenticeship with their american counterparts. Foreign participants were matched with a u.s. business entity and mentored by a fellowship host within the organization. Upon concluding u.s. based-activities, Meridian selected 60 u.s. fellowship hosts to travel to the lac region for a "reverse exchange." Meridian launched a new program initiative, the study of the u.s. institutes for global student leaders (susi), in partnership with the educational and cultural affairs bureau of the u.s. department of state. This program welcomed 120 students to the u.s. to gain a deeper understanding of u.s. society, culture, and academics. Meridian partnered with five institutes of higher education and affiliated organizations to focus on key program themes such as civic engagement, entrepreneurship, economic development, religious freedom and pluralism, skills building, and the rule of law. Participants returned home to implement community action plans developed in the united states.meridian also continued its work on the central asian journalist-in-residence program (cajir). This program brings journalists from across central asia to the united states for individual residencies designed to improve participants' professional standards and the credibility and accuracy of reporting and bolster independent media in central asia. Journalists-in-residence participate in intensive month-long exchanges at american media organizations and journalism training at local universities. Through these residencies, journalists-in-residence explore the structure and operations of american media outlets and strengthen their understanding of disinformation and source verification. The cajir fall 2019 program was held in fall of 2019 in partnership with the Texas International education consortium (tiec), based in austin, Texas. Meridian and tiec arranged four-week training opportunities for participants in local newsrooms and media outlets in austin and san antonio, Texas.