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History of International Exchange Programs

International Focus made a significant organizational transition in November 2013. This date marked the transfer of the former International Affairs Council of North Carolina’s international exchange programs and staff positions to International Focus, embracing the synergistic fusion of a similarly focused mission and shared ideals.

The history of international exchange programs in the area had its beginnings in 1973 when the “Research Triangle International Visitor Center” was established, a service of the office of Duke University’s then-President Terry Sanford. President Sanford, who had previously served as governor of North Carolina, went on to become a U.S. Senator representing North Carolina following his tenure at Duke University. The growing number of programs and visitors naturally led to the birth of a nonprofit organization recognizing that Research Triangle, with its abundant technology, innovation, and higher education resources, has become home to successful companies, vibrant organizations, and major universities who have active global engagement. Hundreds of professional exchange programs were administrated for decades, working in close partnership with the U.S. Department of State, USAID, National Programming Agencies, the Open World Leadership Center, and embassies abroad. International Focus continues this partnership with the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP); the Community Connections Program (CCP); the Open World Learning Center.

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