” What a unique professional and personal opportunity it was for me to visit the United States, as part of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP)! Over a period of three weeks, I visited five different cities across the U.S., from the East to the West Coast, participated in numerous professional and cultural events, visited many places of political, historical and cultural interest and met with professionals from various constituencies.
The topic of the program, Women in STEM, was closely linked to my work at UNESCO on STEM education for girls. The U.S. has extensive experience in this area, which is particularly useful for my work and from which I learned a lot. During meetings, presentations, on-site visits and discussions, I met and exchanged information with U.S. professionals working in this field, including decision makers, researchers, practitioners, academics, students, civil society and private sector representatives, working in the Federal and State Governments, universities, schools, research centers, NGOs and the private sector. I was particularly impressed by the professionalism, commitment and passion everyone demonstrated.
The program also provided full access to the 2017 AAAS meeting, organized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. This was the biggest event I have ever participated in, during which I attended many interesting sessions, networked with various professionals and explored possibilities for future collaboration. The program also provided insights into the U.S. Federal system, history and cultural diversity, through visits to institutional and cultural sites, such as the U.S. Department of State, the California State Capitol, the Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorials, science museums, and many more.
The American people were open, friendly and hospitable. They were eager to share their experience but also to connect and learn from others. I came back having made many friends and feeling inspired.
Meeting and connecting with other participants from different parts of the world was also another exciting part of the program.
The International Visitor Leadership Program was an enriching and multi-dimensional experience, through which I deepened my knowledge into the diverse U.S. political, social and cultural fabric.
My sincere thanks to everyone that supported and facilitated my participation, at the U.S. Mission to UNESCO, the U.S. Department of State, the organizing agents in each city, the presenters who shared their knowledge and experience, as well as the exceptional liaisons, who accompanied us throughout the trip and facilitated and attended to every detail of the program”
Theophania Chavatzia works as a UNESCO Programme Specialist for the Division of Peace and Sustainable Development. as part of the Section of Education for Inclusion and Gender Equality.
If you would like to find out more about the IVLP programme: https://eca.state.gov/ivlp/