Every year, Nonprofit Academy for Excellence staff and instructors meet with international visitors from all over the world. They come here under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program by way of the Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy. Working in a variety of different Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) around the globe, they travel to Utah and elsewhere around the United States to learn about best practices in nonprofit management and governance here in America. Some of the purposes for their visits include:
- To examine U.S. and international initiatives to promote and protect human rights;
- To explore the legislative framework and political perspectives on current and pending efforts to ensure human and civil rights in the United States;
- To observe how organizations monitor, influence, and advocate for civil rights policy at the local, state, national, and international levels in the United States;
- To provide insight into how human rights groups work effectively across regions and across borders, and
- To learn about methods and strategies used by national, state and local organizations to advocate for LGBT rights.
One group of delegates consisted of nonprofit professionals from human rights organizations located in Afghanistan, India (Bangladesh, Kashmir, and New Delhi), Sri Lanka, and Nepal. The delegates discussed the challenges they face working on human rights issues in their countries. Many face imprisonment, death threats, and torture while carrying out their work. In fact, a Kashmir participant lost his leg from such an attack.
We had a lively discussion on nonprofit challenges from an economic perspective and then discussed the structure of the Nonprofit Academy and its goal to inspire excellence in nonprofit management and governance. A few from more stable countries expressed interest in the curriculum and how the program might be replicated in their countries. They were encouraged to keep in touch and let us know if we could assist them in the creation of a similar program. We also discussed the possibility of taking some courses online from the U once the Nonprofit Academy made classes available via the internet.
Another group visiting from Brazil included a famous Brazilian rapper who used her notoriety to establish street basketball programs within poor, urban areas of Rio de Janeiro and elsewhere around the country. Successes with these programs led to an annual international competition.
The Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy’s mission is promote respect and understanding between the people of Utah and other nations. Their guiding principle is that citizen diplomacy is the concept that the individual has the right, even the responsibility, to help shape U.S. foreign relations, “one handshake at a time.”