Meridian @ Global Ties National Meeting

Meridian Vice President Henry Collins Presenting the Programmer of the Year Award
Meridian Vice President Henry Collins Presenting the Programmer of the Year Award (Photo Credit: Global Ties U.S. via Flickr).

From Wednesday, February 7 to Saturday, February 10, thirty Meridian International Center staff members attended the annual Global Ties U.S. National Meeting to connect with other members of the network, take part in sessions that are relevant to the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), and celebrate the impact of exchanges over the past calendar year. Each iteration of the Meeting brings together over 1,000 participants for four days of engagement in professional development opportunities, network building, and opportunities to gain insight into the latest trends affecting international exchanges. Several of our own staff members not only led sessions, but also facilitated discussions and presented awards to community based members.

In advance of each meeting, Global Ties U.S. asks its members to submit proposals for sessions that could be beneficial for those in attendance. Meridian is happy to report that two of our proposals were accepted and implemented in the final program: "Exchanges Go Viral: Creating Social media Content for the IVLP", and "Suspending Judgement: Effective Communication Strategies for Difficult Topics." Both sessions were very well attended and provided a wealth of information for those who participated.

With the aid of the State Department, Mr. Tim Horgan of the World Affairs Council of New Hampshire, and International Visitor Liaison Ms. Brittany Lynk, the "Exchanges Go Viral" session served well to answer the questions of "Why?" and "How?" behind social media usage within the network. After a presentation on the impact of social media on exchanges from Mr. Mike Quinzio, Acting Director of Digital for Public Affairs and Strategic Communications (PASC), Mr. Horgan discussed his organization's usage of social media to advance programming needs in New Hampshire. Subsequently, Ms. Lynk discussed best practices in taking photos and representing the captured moment in the best light. Ms. Lauren Aitken, also representing PASC, spoke briefly on her best practices for creating a social media post on Twitter and Facebook before introducing a hands-on session during which everyone worked together to craft a post based on given scenarios. The session concluded with a beneficial Q&A session, during which those who participated enthusiastically shared their examples and insights into their social media process.

The "Suspending Judgement" session was equally well attended, as the topics of conversation and given scenarios resonated with everyone in the room. Moderated by Ms. Luby Ismail of Connecting Cultures, the session covered challenges that those in the network face when engaging with colleagues, visitors, and others about sensitive topics. The speakers, including Ms. Gail Shrott of Global Pittsburgh and International Visitor Liaison Mr. Marc Fallow, both shared examples of conversations that they have had with their own visitors and provided their insight into how they were handled. The sharing was followed afterward by a hand-on exercise, where everyone in the room was grouped together and given situations that were both plausible and difficult to address. After brainstorming, discussing, and sharing, the session concluded.

Conference Photos (Courtesy of Global Ties U.S. on Flickr)

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