Cultural Vistas Blog

Looking Forward to a Friendly Future Thanks to TOMODACHI

History is filled with the stories of men who had enough power to dare call themselves “Great” and tyrants who were so proud of the fear they spread that they adopted monikers like “the Terrible.”

But the leaders of the future are unlike the leaders of the past. And thanks to a week I recently spent with the participants of the TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program, which has the Japanese word for “friendship” in its name, I am confident that we can look forward to a far friendlier future.

The word tomodachi suits the TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program perfectly. Here I am (center) with some of the new tomodachi I met during the U.S. study tour.

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Young Pacific Leaders Celebrate Heritage while Making History in Fiji

Arriving by plane rather than vaka and wearing mostly non-traditional attire—45 young delegates from 20 Pacific countries and territories celebrated their common heritage as they looked toward a promising future during a historic 2019 Young Pacific Leaders Conference (#YPL19) in Suva, Fiji.

It took some delegates 30+ hours to arrive at the conference in Suva, but only a few short days to establish networks and relationships for life.

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In This World and Beyond, The #ExchangeEffect is Timeless

Members of Cultural Vistas’ International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) staff joined hundreds of other exchange professionals at the annual Global Ties U.S. National Meeting in January as they explored this year’s event theme: The Exchange Effect: Growing Impact at Home and Abroad.

Beginning with a discussion on the prospect of future exchange programs being literally out of this world, the event covered a broad array of topics which ultimately highlighted how the effects of exchanges are not limited by time or place. Below are some of our favorite highlights from the event.

A plastic display forming an archway lists "The Exchange Effect" conference schedule and speakers.
This year’s Global Ties U.S. National Meeting took place in Washington, D.C. Photo credit: A.E. Landes Photography

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How to Start Speaking Another Language

Learning a language can be fun, but also intimidating. Especially talking to people. Here are some tips for how to take that next step from an app to real-life.

1. Find a language group

Three members of Conversational DC stand in a crowd talking over drinks.

The best, first step you can take toward learning a language is to find a community to learn with. Joining a language group will hold you accountable to the friends you make to continue attending events and practicing. So before you do anything, find a group, RSVP, and put it in your calendar, even if it’s a long ways away. If you’re in the Washington, DC area, check out Conversational DC, which holds events in Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, and Japanese.

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Ukrainian IDPs and German Integration Practitioners Exchange Local Insights on Shared Global Challenges

In Zaporizhia, Ukraine, Valeria Vershynina is standing in front of a gathered crowd and motioning to an oversized board game spread out in front of them, “You roll the dice and move your piece along the board,” she instructs.

The seemingly simple game Valeria is explaining how to play is IDP Adventure—a public awareness tool that lets players roleplay the devastatingly difficult situation of an internally displaced person (IDP) in Ukraine. Valeria and her organization, Stabilization Support Services, designed the game as a way to bring the challenges faced by IDPs to the attention of policymakers and the general public.

Valeria Vershynina stands in front of an oversized board game with her back against a mirror reflecting a banner with the name of her organization in Ukrainian. Gathered in a semicircle around her is a seated crowd.
Valeria Vershynina and her organization, Stabilization Support Services, designed the oversized board game IDP Adventure to raise awareness about the plight of IDPs in Ukraine.

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