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.
For a free subscription and access to the archives, click here.
Susan Shultz, the acting director of the Office of International Visitors of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, led a discussion on strengthening international relations through North Carolina’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). IVLP accepts international leaders and invites them to the United States, from 3 days to 3 weeks, to cultivate lasting relationships between current and emerging professionals around the world and their American counterparts and provides opportunities for foreign opinion makers to gain firsthand knowledge about U.S. society, culture and politics. The discussion, which was held on Tuesday, August 30th, focused on IVLP impact in many different areas. First, IVLP’s social impact was explored. This included programs like Bangladeshi scientist studying climate change and German policy makers studying refugee resettlement protocols. IVLP’s financial impact for the state of North Carolina was also discussed, citing that the program on average generates 4 times the amount of revenue that it cost to run. Lastly, we discussed the ways that citizens of North Carolina can be an impactful part of this program. This is done by actively being a part of organizations like International Focus.