Open Your Heart, Open Your Mind, Open the World

Like International Festival on Facebook Follow International Festival on Twitter Follow International Focus on Instagram

What is IVLP?

IVLP Logo 2018State Dept

The International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) is a professional exchange program of the US Department of State designed to increase mutual understanding between Americans and people of other countries. Since its inception in 1940, nearly 200,000 foreign nationals have participated in the IVLP. U.S. embassies nominate participants based on their professional merit and leadership potential. More than 4,000 foreign visitors participate annually in IVLP projects of up to three weeks, including visits to Washington, D.C. and two or three other U.S. cities. They meet with their U.S. professional counterparts to gain an understanding of U.S. policies and practices and participate in cultural activities during their stay in the United States. Worldwide there are more than 53 program alumni who are current heads of government or chiefs of state.

The International Visitor Program offer priceless opportunities to understand the United States and the American people through direct experience, and to make valuable contacts... I am immensely grateful for the insights into the U.S. which this exchange scheme provided. I have drawn on them regularly since then.
-Tony Blair, British Prime Minister

International Focus is member of Global​ Ties U.S. former National Council for International Visitors (NCIV), the organization that serves as liaison between the U.S. Department of State and individual community-based members for the administration of the IVLP. Individuals and groups we host in Raleigh range in size from 1 to 25, and come from all regions of the world and almost every country. The programs we attract mirror the economic, educational and political diversity of this region and include programs in economic development, trade, higher education, research and development, pharmaceutical, IT, K - 12 education, local governance, elections & political systems, and biotech, to name a few. Last year, international Focus hosted over 35 groups and more than 250 visitors from all around the world. The director of international Focus's International Visitor Leadership Program, Leila Bekri, has been nominated for Excellence in IVLP at the national conference in three consecutive years, from 2009-2011.

For the Department of State's IVLP website click here.

Read More About International Visitor Exchange Programs


Get Involved

Become a Home Hospitality Family. (Member Only)

This offers you the opportunity to host small dinner events in your home for two to four visitors. The goal is simply that you share your warmth, interest, and dinner hospitality with our international guests. These dinners are invariably lively, enjoyable exchanges, and we keep them small in size not just to limit the host's burden of preparation, but also to foster more extensive dialogue.

A home hospitality dinner may take many forms: a family-style dinner with immediate family and/or close friends, a potluck, or a picnic where you bring the dinner to share. What matters most is a spirit of warm, welcoming hospitality. Note that hosts must pick up their dinner guests at their hotel before dinner, and drop them back at the hotel afterward. For more information, please contact IVLP Program Director, Leila Bekri at 919-782-0552 or [email protected].

Become a Homestay Host (member only).
A Homestay involves three to five days. We encourage hosts to share their lives and interest, whether by touring favorite local sites, visiting a museum, or attending a sporting event. For visitors, weekdays are filled with meetings and professional exchange program.

Become a Professional Resource.
If you are an expert in a field that relates to study of our delegations, you may meet with visitors to discuss your knowledge and experiences.

Become an International Visitor Cultural Guide.
On weekend and holidays you can serve as a guide and accompany visitors in the discovery of the rich history, culture in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and the vicinities.

Become a Cultural Event Host.
If you are a local ethnic group and would like to invite a delegation for a reception or a special event, please notify our office.

Become a member today!

Support Us

Your support makes it possible for us to offer engaging and high quality arts and educational programs and to serve our international communities.

Donate Now!

Join Us

We invite you to become a member of International Focus today! Your membership will support our many efforts as well as taking part in our cultural activities.

Become a Member

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our newsletters by email.