What makes a good leader? Is it their ability to command attention, speak persuasively or help those who follow them shine? Some would argue that a good leader encompasses all of the above elements and more. Global Ties Akron hosts a variety of these leaders through their International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). With six embassies throughout the world, a group of leaders are selected from each region and given the chance to experience America for two weeks to two months. Those selected are typically distinguished members of their communities, likely to end up in parliament or some other governmental position. At some point in their travels, they spend time in the greater Akron area. Whether it’s touring local organizations or businesses, meeting businessmen and local leaders, spending some time shopping at local stores, or attending roundtables, these groups get to experience the Akron lifestyle and make connections along the way.
“The hope is to make a connection with someone locally by showing them how we live and operate here,” Shannon Anicas, the program director for Global Tie Akron shares. “Not only are they learning about our culture, but they’re sharing with others how they do things and that leaves an impact.” The organization focuses on breaking down negative stereotypes of foreigners in addition to dispelling myths about America. For Global Ties Akron, bringing in these leaders helps the local community place a face on the country that they are from. In doing so, the community can also place a face on the problems that some of these countries face. Thus, when these individuals see news stories about the specific areas, they can recall what they learned from the visitors.
Some of the Global Ties Akron programs include religious roundtables, LGBT rights discussions, presentations about disability services in America, and hands-on activities that help locals get to know the international visitors. One of the more popular meetings that Global Ties Akron sets up for guests is the one that the Akron Police Department hosts. At this presentation, international leaders concerned with policing practices learn how American police officers conduct police protocol. All of the initiatives that Global Ties Akron runs help globalize Akron, share cultural norms, and create lasting international connections.