February 02, 2022

Letter from the Director February 2022

Dear Friends of Utah Global Diplomacy,

I don't know about you, but I find myself reaching the end of January feeling like I've already run a marathon this year. It's so easy to stay laser-focused on the goals at hand that I often forget to pause and observe what is around me.  

So today, I'm taking this moment to observe the following: 

People in Utah clearly love connecting with people from around the world. Next week, we will welcome our first in-person international exchange program after two long years. The delegation of Ukrainian leaders will visit Utah as part of the Congressional Office of International Leadership's Open World program to examine and explore how Utah focuses on LGBTQ+ inclusion. Open World programs are unique because members of the delegation stay with host families instead of in hotels. When we put out the volunteer call-to-action for homestay hosts, you in our community stepped up and offered to open your homes. For so many reasons, I am humbled at these acts of acceptance and inclusion. 

Second, the staff and board of Utah Global Diplomacy are incredibly dedicated to the mission and proud of the work they accomplish, yet they do not want to rest on their laurels. In March 2022, Utah Global Diplomacy board members and staff will participate in a strategic planning retreat to forecast our organizational growth for the next 3-5 years. I'm excited to see who the collective group will lay the foundation for Utah Global Diplomacy's growth in the near future.

Of course, there is a reason 'citizen' is in our name - we value your thoughts and ideas when it comes to improving and increasing the impact of citizen diplomacy. Please let me know if you have suggestions on Utah Global Diplomacy's mission, programs, and services, and I personally invite you to apply to be part of Utah Global Diplomacy's Board of Directors. Board applications are now available

Third, our community is eager to support young people's first steps in global engagement. Please be on the lookout for the announcement of our 2022 Global Leader Scholarship Fund recipients. If you know of any high school students interested in global affairs, encourage them to sign up for Academic WorldQuest, where teams of 3-4 high school students put their global knowledge to the test. (The winning team travels to Washington D.C. to compete at the national competition.)

And save the date for Saturday, September 24, for the International Youth Summit - an event that welcomes high school, college, and career-ready youth to become citizen diplomats. 

Finally, it seems like more so now than ever, we are bombarded with news of conflict, cybersecurity risks, terrorism, famine, displaced people, environmental catastrophes, and the list goes on and on. It's challenging for people to keep track of the headlines, America's role in the international arena, and, more importantly, how these global affairs affect Utah. So 

I am delighted to share that we will be hosting our Ambassador John Price & Marcia Price World Affairs Lecture Series in person starting on March 7 with Avi Melamed, Middle East Geopolitical Intelligence Analyst, who will present Inside The Middle East 2021: Entering A New Era. Registration for this event will be available in next week's e-blast.

We will take every precaution in keeping you healthy and safe during these in-person events - this might include asking you to wear a mask and postponing the pre-lecture receptions until the Covid number decrease. However, I believe coming together to discuss global affairs is critical in shaping public discourse and creating a shared humanity to bridge the divides in Utah and around the world.

Could 2022 finally be the year that I connect with each of you one handshake at a time? I hope so!

Felecia Maxfield-Barrett
Executive Director