Rule of Law Delegates Visit UofL Law School

Dean Colin Crawford of UofL Brandeis School of Law blogs about his experience hosting an IVLP delegation. The original blog post can be found here.

Rule of Law: International Visitor Leadership Program comes to Louisville Law

Louisville Law plays host to an international delegation of lawyers and judges.

Members of the international delegation outside of the University of Louisville School of Law.

As a member of the Bingham Fellows Class of 2019, one of the many great opportunities presented to me is chance to meet local leaders who are engaged in our community in a myriad of ways.

One recent example of the connections the Bingham Fellows has fostered came last week, when a group of international lawyers and judges visited the University of Louisville School of Law. Their visit was organized by the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program and was coordinated locally by the World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Indiana. I learned about this visit from Xiao Yin Zhao, executive director of the World Affairs Council and a fellow member of Bingham Fellows. My thanks to her for including the School of Law in this visit!

Professor John Cross explains the differences between civil law and criminal law.

It was an interesting and lively discussion, especially when our visitors learned that many state judge are elected rather than appointed.

Another interesting topic was our school’s ties to Justice Louis Brandeis. I was pleased to hear that several of our visitors were familiar with the justice and even referenced some of his opinions. It was a nice reminder that we are tied to a legal mind whose impact is known around the world.

The morning was a great example of the value of local connections and the role our law school can serve in educating students and the community alike.

Read the original blog post on the Dean’s Blog here.

A Day in the Life of Odir

“It impacted my point of view of the world. All the workshops […] I had opened my eyes about so many things that I don’t even know how to describe it.” – Odir

KY Standard: Russian journalists learn from Americans

Five Russian journalists who visited Bardstown Thursday contrasted the freedom of the American press with the constraints under which they must work in their country. – Kentucky Standard

African Delegation Observes Mid-Term Elections in Louisville (Plus An Interview with WFPL)

Eight delegates from seven different African countries arrived in Louisville on November 4, 2018. Prior to their arrival, the group had traveled extensively across the United States – to Washington, D.C., Annapolis and Baltimore, Miami, and Colorado Springs – learning about the U.S. electoral process, election monitoring, and effective campaigning. But no amount of travel was going to wear down the group’s excitement for the big day: November 6th.

While in Louisville, the group met with several organizations, candidates, and constituents. For a compare and contrast, the group met with both the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office and Floyd County Clerk’s Office to explore the differences in election day preparation, laws, and management of polling stations. Mr. James Young, Co-Director of the Jefferson Co. Election Center, met with visitors to discuss the amount of preparation that goes into managing Kentucky’s most populated county and how residents must visit their assigned polling stations. In Floyd County, IN, the group learned from Floyd County Clerk Christy Eurton that polls are run a bit different just across the river. In Floyd County, visitors were exposed to the idea of Election Centers, where residents of Floyd County are able to vote in any Election Center and are not tied to one specific polling station.

Our group also met with local candidates of both parties. First, visitors met with Mr. Kent Hall who ran as the Republican candidate for Metro Council’s 7th District seat. Mr. Hall had previously worked in the Jefferson Co. Election Center and had a wealth of knowledge to share having help prepare for elections and now as a candidate himself. Later in the day, visitors met with Ms. Nima Kulkarni, the Democratic candidate running for State Representative in the 40th district. Ms. Kulkarni shared her drive to run, major issues, and the grassroots support for her campaign as the first Indian-American elected to Kentucky’s state legislature.

Dr. Rhonda Wrzenski, Associate Professor of Political Science at Indiana University Southeast, gave a presentation on the predictions for the Mid-Term elections and reasons for the historical turn-out of women candidates in this year’s election cycle. Students of IUS sat in on the discussion.

Bill Burton of 89.3 WFPL News met with the group to discuss the importance of transparency and media coverage during elections. Not only did the visitors have a wonderful discussion, but Mr. Burton interviewed two of the participants, which played on WFPL the morning of November 6th! You can hear the interview in the audio file below.

Interview by Bill Burton, 89.3 WFPL News:

 

A delegate from the Central African Republic shares a traditional song with trivia contestants!

The group had wonderful experiences with two volunteer home hospitality dinner hosts! They also joined WAC’s special “Election Edition” Global Trivia Night at Gravely Brewing Co. to watch results pour in. One of them even gave the crowd an impromptu singing lesson!

You can view the Facebook Album for all photos here!

 

This project was sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) and implemented locally by World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana in partnership with World Learning.

Green Energy in Pamplona | Summer studies with the Hershberg Scholarship

 

Every year our Hershberg Scholarship provides funds of at least $1,500 to promising research trips abroad. This past summer one of our recipients, Darby Brown, a senior at the University of Kentucky, spent the summer in Pamplona, Spain, learning about renewable energy infrastructures. An account of her stay, in her own words, is below.

Hershberg Scholarship applications are currently open until February 15, 2019. For more information about requirements and to apply, visit our Hershberg Scholarship webpage.


A wind farm in Spain, El Perdon

The Navarre region of Spain is a world leader in renewable energy usage and technology. Thanks in large part to the World Affairs Council, I had the opportunity to study in Pamplona, Spain, a city within Navarre. My studies exposed me to an array of technologies and gave me access to industry experts in each field. Just as important as the learning done in the classroom was that done outside of it. Staying with a host family immersed me in Spanish culture, pushed me far out of my comfort zone, and taught me lessons that I will keep for the rest of my life.

Upon my arrival in Pamplona, I was greeted with a warm welcome from my house mom, or ‘Mama Zubi’ as she had us call her. Nervous and weary, I rang the buzzer for her apartment. A voice came on the line and started speaking to me in hurried Spanish. I managed to get the door open and lug my suitcase halfway up the stairs where she met me with hugs, kisses, and excitement over her new “chiquitita”. She fed me a grand Spanish lunch complete with local cheese, chistoro, and pimientos, and showed me around my new home. Mama Zubi rushed through her house excitedly showing off everything from her fresh herbs to her book collection—a tour given entirely in Spanish. I tried to keep up with her but Spanish 101 and the Duolingo app had only gotten me so far. In the end, we got through it with a little Google translate and a lot of charades.

A field trip to Lizarraga, a town that powers all of its public spaces using a solar photovoltaics/hydropower system and connected microgrid.

No, my house mom did not speak English. At times, it was overwhelming to live with this communication barrier. Never before had I needed to communicate with someone and not been able to. However, it was one of the most rewarding things I have ever experienced. Thankfully, my program began with two weeks of intensive Spanish language courses. From the first day, I became acutely aware of how important those Spanish classes would be in order to communicate in my own home.

Mama Zubi was an invaluable part of my language studies because she encouraged me to practice speaking at home. She was patient and held many conversations with me similar to those you might have with a kindergartner as I learned. She not only encouraged me to learn the language, but to be fully immersed in her culture. Her encouragement and inclusion empowered me to dig deeper, ultimately delivering a more complex understanding and appreciation of life in Spain. I immersed myself in many aspects of the culture that I would otherwise never have experienced. Among these were dancing the bachata and the jota with locals in the Plaza del Castillo, making friends with the bartender and becoming a regular at my favorite pintxo bar, and conversing in Spanish with the families of the friends I made abroad.

Living with a host family enhanced my understanding of renewable energy and conservation, as well. I observed firsthand the Spanish lifestyle at home. I noticed how she kept lights off, opened windows rather than blasting the AC, and moderated her hot water consumption. She had no car and walked anywhere she needed to go. Small things like this contribute to the low average energy consumption per capita in Spain—nearly a third of what it is in the United States. I expected to learn about renewable energy in Spain, but the necessity of a sustainable lifestyle was a lesson I did not expect. Becoming energy and waste conscious is the first and most important step in creating a sustainable world.

Darby’s farewell lunch from Mama Zubi.

The issue of sustainable living that started with cool showers at home extended into the classroom. The American students compared our individual energy consumption to our Spanish professors’ and talked about alternatives like biofuels that can be easily implemented in your own home. These professors were usually working professionals, and experts in their respective fields. Each professor gave an inside look into their industry and challenged the class by offering insights that we would not have encountered in the United States.

Being in Spain gave me access to much more information than I would have had in a traditional classroom. Some of the technologies we studied, my favorite being the Oscillating Water Column, have not even been introduced in the US yet. We took field trips to see all of these technologies in action. In our field trip to an Oscillating Water Column test facility I experienced firsthand how much energy can be harnessed from a single wave. That is one wave I will never forget.

Darby, Mama Zubi, and another student Rose at the San Fermin Festival.

Studying abroad enhanced my learning in so many ways, but just as important is impact it made on me personally. Living abroad, especially with a host family, host family was a huge test of patience and a testimony to the human spirit for both parties. Certainly, there were times when we got frustrated. There were times when it took 5 minutes to communicate a single sentence before we finally gave up and used google translate. There were times when Spanish television, Mama Zubi on a phone call in Spanish, and foreign music were simply too much and I hid in my room just to get a break. There were also times, however, where I laughed harder than I can ever remember with her. There were times when her hugs, just like a real mother’s hug, made everything okay. I am amazed at the bond we formed and the love I feel for her despite our language barrier, and I know she feels the same. While I was certainly made aware of the importance of verbal communication this trip, I learned to appreciate nonverbal communication and natural human connection even more so.

My time in Spain was priceless for the amount that it improved me personally and prepared me to better serve my community as a young professional. I am so thankful to the World Affairs Council, my professors, advisers, and family for making this experience possible. I learned so much while studying abroad and will carry those lessons with me for the rest of my life. I would recommend studying abroad and doing a homestay to any student, especially those with curious minds who want to make an impact in our increasingly global society. One day, I hope to pay it forward and host an international student just like Mama Zubi. For now, I would encourage anyone who is able to consider hosting an international student. The experience is truly unique and endlessly rewarding. And we, the students, appreciate you more than you know.


For opportunities to host your own international students, visit our Host Family and Volunteer page.

How are our GCCP students after one year in the program?

It’s been one year since we implemented our Global Citizenship Certificate Program (GCCP), a program for high school students that encourages them to seek out and engage with different cultures in their community. We wanted to know what new experiences the program was creating for our students and what it was inspiring them to do next, so we had one of our summer interns, Ian Johnson of Centre College, conduct a few interviews to check in.


GCCP Student Isha Chauhan on a service trip to Uruguay.

Since her sophomore year in high school, Isha Chauhan, now a Junior at Oldham County High School, has been participating in the Global Citizenship Certificate Program, an educational curriculum and community engagement program for high school students offered by the World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

“It’s been really fun,” said Chauhan. “Me and my best friend do it together so being able to go to lectures and different competitions together has been really eye-opening for the both of us. The academic requirements mostly focus on taking away the big picture.”

Now entering its second year, the GCCP was created to help students reach the three goals of the Kentucky Board of Education’s Global Competency program: investigating the world and other perspectives, communicating with diverse groups and applying learnings through positive action. With 1 in 5 jobs in the state directly tied to international trade, global citizenship and competency are becoming necessities for ensuring that students are workplace-ready, both internationally and locally. The GCCP makes Kentucky just one of 11 states and the District of Columbia in the U.S. that offer global education certificate programs to high school students.

Still, Kentucky continues to face challenges in global education. Currently, just 17% of Kentucky K-12 students are enrolled in a foreign language course and financial barriers remain high for many students from low income backgrounds seeking international experiences. The GCCP aims to increase the accessibility of global education to students of all backgrounds – there is no fee to participate and the application process is simple. Students complete a simple online application form and is invited to participate based on their interest. The value of the certificate is in its completion, not just participation.

GCCP students are required to demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language. For Chauhan, this has meant taking Spanish courses, which influenced her decision to participate in a youth exchange program in Uruguay this past summer.

Learning Spanish and being immersed in a culture with my host family was such an amazing experience,” said Chauhan. “My interest in doing the program only increased when I joined GCCP because it pushed me to become an advocate.”

In addition to coursework, students participate in international academic competitions, lectures, local cultural events, service projects or internships and complete a self-designed capstone project

Student Ramy Khodeir at a Ramadan food drive at the Muslim Community Center of Louisville.

at the end of the program that involves students’ individual interests.

“I would like to examine the language and cultural divide within Louisville’s Hispanic community by making an educational video,” said Juli Gomez, another participant in the program and a junior at Sacred Heart Academy.

“Coming from a Hispanic background, diversity has always been an important factor that I have sought throughout my life. The Latino population throughout the U.S. is on a gradual rise and it’s essential to understand the struggles that a vast percentage of our society faces.”

While Gomez expects to complete the program by her senior year, students may move through the program at their own pace over 2-4 years.

Both Gomez and Chauhan say they would recommend the program to other interested students.

Enjoy yourself and bring a buddy,” said Chauhan. “I think many people are intimidated by the requirements but to me they are just guides to the new experiences I can have, the new people I can meet and the new food I can taste. I never would have learned the things I have if it were not for GCCP.”


Applications for the program are currently being accepted by the until October 15. The application along with more information about the program may be found at worldkentucky.org/certificate.

International Visitors explore policies to address drug use in Louisville and the Philippines

From June 27-July 1, a group of four Filipino officials and professionals from different sectors including the federal government, local government, non-governmental/private organizations and law enforcement visited Louisville to learn about Kentucky’s efforts to reduce demand for illicit drugs and improve rehabilitation programs for addicts.

Visitors spent two days attending meetings with various organizations and officials, including the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness where they discussed a
newly implemented, long-term program aiming to address the root causes of drug abuse and
reduce addiction in the Louisville area. Visitors also attended a roundtable discussion to explore
ways the Philippines can improve drug rehabilitation programs and reduce illicit drug use in the
country. The roundtable included professionals from CenterStone Rehabilitation Center, the
Morton Center, the Healing Place and other local organizations.

At the state capitol in Frankfort, another meeting was attended by the Executive
Director of the Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP), Van Ingram, as well as Dave Hopkins, the administrator of the Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting System (KASPER), which tracks prescriptions of controlled substances and medications throughout the state. Also in attendance were officials from the Kentucky Medical Licensure Board and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. During the program, the breadth and complexity of the drug epidemic in Kentucky was addressed along with the historical causes of the opioid epidemic. The ODCP also addressed the ways that the epidemic was being addressed by various departments and organizations in Kentucky, with policies including prescription limits, “Good Samaritan” laws and education on the use of Narcan (Naxolone)—a medication used to treat drug overdoses. Kentucky has also become the state with the second-highest number of safe syringe exchange programs in the country, reducing both Hepatitis and HIV transmission and providing a space for addicts to get help.

Visitors from the Philippines also educated local officials about issues with illicit drugs in the Philippines and the efforts made across government and private facilities to reduce addiction and drug  production. They discussed the framework of a rights and evidence-based approach in the Philippines to treat addicts and explored ways that policies from the U.S. and Kentucky could be adapted for the Philippine model.

Overall, the visit was a very exciting look into the drug epidemic both in the U.S. and
Kentucky as well as the Philippines, and introduced ways that the countries can learn and work together to tackle the transnational issue of addiction. The trip was concluded by an active day at the historic Mammoth Cave National Park and the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park.

Visitors from Azerbaijan Explore Louisville’s LGBTQ+ Community

The City of Louisville was chosen by the U.S Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) to be a stop for the visitors of Azerbaijan coming to the United States to learn about strengthening the capacity of LGBTQ organizations. Five leaders in the LGBTQ community of Azerbaijan were chosen by the U.S Embassy in Azerbaijan to visit Washington D.C, Louisville, San Francisco, Sacramento, Miami, and New York City. The objectives of the program are below:

Two visitors prepare for Pride Parade!

  • Examine the U.S. legislative framework to ensure LGBT rights in the U.S.;
  • Explore U.S. and international initiatives to promote and protect the human rights of the LGBT community;
  • Observe how organizations monitor, influence, and advocate for LGBT rights policy at the local, state, national, and international levels;
  • Gain insight into approaches, experiences, and challenges of the LGBT community such as healthcare issues; the status of LGBT women; LGBT youth issues; and achieving economic equality;
  • Learn about capacity building in the areas of managing LGBT NGOs; public outreach and communications; government relations; and networking and alliance building

Visitors from Azerbaijan meet with Lexington Mayor Jim Gray – the first openly gay Kentuckian to run for U.S. Senate!

In 2016, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), ranked Azerbaijan as the worst country in Europe(49th) for LGBTQ rights. Just last year the police force of Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, initiated raids targeting the LGBTQ community.  Nearly 100 people were detained, many of whom identify as LGBTQ. Some of those who were arrested also claimed to have been tortured and beaten. The climate of Azerbaijan makes this U.S State Department program much more imperative; the ultimate goal of this program is to help those who are trying to improve the lives of LGBTQ community members in Azerbaijan. The World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana was honored to have such courageous men and women come visit us, and hoped that they could learn something new from LGBTQ leaders in a historically conservative American state.

The participants from Azerbaijan had a quick but packed stay in Louisville. In addition to participating in the Kentuckiana Pride Festival and Parade, they met with a variety of organizations and leaders throughout Kentucky who advocate and support the LGBTQ community. These were organizations such as the Louisville Metro Police Department Safe Harbor program and LGBTQ Advisory Council, PFLAG of Central Kentucky, the Fairness Campaign, and the Mayor of Lexington, Jim Gray. These exchanges helped the Azerbaijanis learn about the LGBTQ culture in the United States as well as gain insights as to what they could bring back home to help advocate for the LGBTQ community in Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijani visitors meet with LMPD’s Safe Harbor program!

Having the chance to meet with an openly gay mayor, given the current administration in the United States, seemed to be a highlight of the trip for the participants. The mayor of Lexington, Jim Gray, and the Lexington LGBTQ Community Liaison, Kenny Bishop, took the time to meet with the group to discuss the mayor’s story as well as the political landscape in Kentucky. The general acceptance that Mayor Gray has received as well as the initiatives that he and his team have brought to fruition in Lexington and Kentucky politics were a source of inspiration for the participants. After the meeting, the group drove over to the rainbow cross walks in downtown Lexington, an artistic as well as activist initiative the Mayor’s team brought to life. Although it was a short meeting, the participants, the interpreters, and myself felt very fortunate to have been able to sit down with such an inspirational and powerful figure in the LGBTQ community.

Additionally, the local leaders that met with the group also learned a great deal about the restrictive political and social landscape in Azerbaijan. As an intern listening in on some of the meetings, I saw how intrigued local leaders were a country they did not know much about, as well as the difficulties these courageous people go through to advocate and support the LGBTQ community. I saw firsthand the value of a cultural exchange as well as the exchange of information and ideas so that the Azerbaijanis and Americans both walked with new knowledge and an awareness of a new perspective.  

We hope that the Azerbaijanis had a great stay in Kentucky, and we wished them safe travels as they left to visit San Francisco. Thank you to everyone who helped made this program successful, and thank you for all that you do to support the LGBTQ community!

 

Written by: Teya Cuellar, Spring 2018 Visitor Program Intern

Wahhibism and the Spread of Global Extremism

On April 26, we hosted acclaimed author and Middle East cross-cultural consultant Terence Ward, who discussed the development and spread of Wahhibism, the conservative Islamic sect that provides the ideological basis for ISIS, Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.

In the talk, Ward also examines Saudi Arabia’s recognition of Wahhibism as the official state religion and what this means for the gulf state’s relationship with US as well as its regional neighbors.  Ward’s third book, The Wahhabi Code: How the Saudis Spread Extremism Globally is available this October.

 

DuPont Manual Places Sixth in National AWQ Competition

Congratulations to duPont Manual High School, who placed 6th in this year’s national Academic WorldQuest Compeition. The competition was held on April 28 in Washington, D.C., and featured over 250 students from nearly 50 high schools nationwide, making this no small achievement. On the team were Aditya Mehta, Agharnan Gandhi, Mark Raj, Jake Powell, and Pranav Senthivel. Manual previously placed 3rd in 2017 and 1st in the 2015 competition.

We would also like to thank D.D. Williamson, Inc. for partnering with us and helping send these students to Washington D.C. at no cost them. Thanks to DDW, we were able to provide airfare, lodging, and a per diem to be spent on meals and cultural activities. Without them such an enriching academic and cultural experience would not have been possible.