February 22, 2017
NEW ORLEANS CITIZEN DIPLOMACY COUNCIL RESPONSE TO PROPOSED TRAVEL BAN
Since 1954, the New Orleans Citizen Diplomacy has had the privilege of hosting visitors from 145 nations around the world, including each of the countries listed in the recently proposed travel ban. As an organization dedicated to cross-cultural dialogue, openness, and shared learning experiences with international visitors, NOCDC is committed to the principle that the best way to overcome our fears about people we don’t know is to meet those people face to face, to shake their hands, to sit down and talk about mutual interests and shared concerns.
Throughout the United States, nearly 5,000 exchange participants from all over the world travel to the U.S. to meet and confer with their professional counterparts as part of the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). Through these encounters, they gain a greater understanding of the cultural and political influences in U.S. society and enjoy a firsthand experience of the U.S., its people and its culture. Visitors represent sectors including government, politics, the media, education, non-governmental organizations, the arts, public health, international security, business and trade, and other fields. Thousands of NOCDC alumni around the world know that citizen diplomacy transcends the barriers that keep people from relating to one another, fosters genuine connections, and makes us more secure than bans and walls ever can.
The New Orleans Citizen Diplomacy Council is a nonprofit membership organization that arranges professional appointments and cultural activities for those visitors sent to New Orleans through the IVLP and other programs. NOCDC is one of approximately 90 councils in the U.S. and the only council in Louisiana. The mission of NOCDC is to promote citizen diplomacy- the notion that the individual citizen can help shape U.S. foreign relations “one handshake at a time.” NOCDC’s members and professional resources are citizen diplomats who extend friendship, knowledge, and culture to international guests. Among the thousands who have participated in the IVLP program since its inception are more than 335 current and former heads of government and other distinguished leaders in the public and private sectors including: Margaret Thatcher; Frederik W. de Klerk; Oscar Arias Sanchez; Tony Blair; Anwar Sadat; Boutros-Boutros Ghali, and Joyce Banda, the first female President of Malawi.