In March, International Focus had the honor of having parliamentarians from Georgia speak to us at the monthly Citizen Diplomacy Series. We thank the Open World Leadership Center and our guests for this wonderful opportunity.
After a quick introduction, the visitors took a moment to speak to IF members about their lovely country. Our visitors didn’t simply speak--we were treated to a number of videos. The first was on how Georgia honored its 6 millionth visitor as a guest of the state! Later, we were treated to the American debut of a documentary one pair of parliamentarians made about the special relationship between the US and Georgia from its independence to its 25th anniversary.
After the documentary, guests took questions from IF guests. These ran the gamut from the status of women’s education, to energy security and projects within Georgia, to free trade, and even to the personal motivations that lead each of them to pursue a role in politics. The general view that emerged was that economically and socially, Georgia was a country that was progressing and developing, leading the world in many areas but with room to grow. However, equally apparent was that the US and Georgia had a relationship based on mutual values of democracy, freedom, and the opportunity that free enterprise provide and that these leaders not only cherished this relationship but these values themselves.
The evening concluded with yet another video - an advertisement from the majority party of their country filled with scenes of life from their country that possessed a sense of hope and a love of country. Indeed, between these scenes, the genuine friendliness of these guests, and the open invitation to visit their country (one even said they may meet us there), it would be little surprise that many IF members are already planning a visit to the lovely country of Georgia.
On Saturday, March 11, TEAM International Focus attended the 2017 Peace Prize ceremony and was presented a beautiful commemorative vase made in Seagrove, North Carolina, and a grant. Leila Bekri and Nazi Kite accepted the Prize on behalf of the organization acknowledging the dedication of an expanded team whose passionate work is making a difference in our community. Through cultural events & exchange programs, International Focus contributed to peace, dialogue, and international understanding. We are honored by this recognition and grateful for your support!
We would like to thank the Reverend Dr. Dumas Alexander Harshaw, Jr. for his enlightening and eloquent talk about the history of the Civil Rights Movement at last night’s Citizen Diplomacy Series. We would also like to thank members of his congregation from First Baptist Church for attending and hope they felt welcomed and found the talk as informative and inspiring as we did.
Although the role of the black church is well known in the history of the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Harshaw explored how the historical forces that gave birth and developed the black church were at the root of the movement. According to Dr. Harshaw, the cultural significance and features of the church as an institution in African American lives - as a central social and artistic hub - served as the catalyst and model. He also explored the lives of two pivotal leaders of the Civil Rights Movement - The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X - and how their theology and different journeys shaped their voices for equal rights. After the talk, Dr. Harshaw took questions from IF members and guests about current issues and his impressions.
We enjoyed speaking with our Bermuda visitors from the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) during our monthly coffee and conversation gathering. It was enlightening to hear about how they were meeting the challenges of their changing economy through workforce development and how they hope the experiences they had here in the US will help them develop policies, strategies, and partnerships back home.
Other than our “common pain points,” as one of our members put it, we discussed the status of women’s and environmental issues in Bermuda. They also shared their impressions about life in our area and were delighted to find out they enjoyed some of our fine cuisine (namely some good ol’ NC barbecue and catfish) and were duly impressed by one of the desserts they had while in Greensboro. Though their stay in our state will be short, and our city shorter, we hope they have an excellent and productive time.
On Tuesday, September 27th, International Focus was honored to receive Dr. Assad Meymandi as our guest speaker for its monthly Citizen Diplomacy Series. In addition to Dr. Meymandi, we were joined by foreign exchange visitors from the International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP). This delegation consisted of Russian educators learning about the use of digital resources in the classroom. Although the focus of the night was not on technology and the classroom per se, it was an enlightening and inspiring evening for all.
Dr. Meymandi, longtime resident of Raleigh and renowned psychiatrist, humanist, and philanthropist, spoke on the topic of “Reflections on Ontology”. The talk, which spanned from the abstract question of ontology—of existence—to the deeply personal, dwelt on the insights Dr. Meymandi had extracted from the areas of science, theology, and philosophy and addressed not only what is to be human but to be better, more altruistic humans. Citing such classical scholarship as Galen, Augustine of Hippo, Maimonides, and Ibn Khaldoun as well as Freudian and developmental psychology, he walked the audience through the psychological development and expression of altruistic behavior and thought and gave advice on how to exercise this in our daily lives to promote goodness and love, agape, in our personal lives.
Before his talk Dr. Meymandi was introduced by International Focus Board President Ms. Nazi Kite with a long list of his accomplishments and impact on our community and a presentation of a certificate of appreciation from IF. At the end of his talk, Dr. Meymandi was given an emblematic IVLP pin from Ms. Leila Bekri in honor of his inspiring life achievements, as well as, his friendship and support to international exchange programs and International Focus, Inc.. That talk concluded with the doctor taking questions from the audience on both the particulars of his talk and advice on modern life and health. The answers the doctor gave were insightful, candid, and simple solutions and if practiced seem promising to improve not only the lives of those who follow them but for society as a whole.
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