March 30, 2022

Letter from the Director April 2022

Dear Friends of UCCD,

I'm delighted to share that after two years, UCCD will once again host International Visitors in person - yay! It will be a slow start beginning with a group in April that will examine "Managing Foreign Aid and Foreign Direct Investment," specifically in the context of international economic cooperation between businesses and nonprofit organizations. Still, we anticipate the flood gates will open. 

So I would like to take this moment and share my sincere gratitude to all our citizen diplomat friends - you - who continued to support us with your kind words, support, and financial gifts, waiting patiently for this day to come. Most importantly, we hope that we can offer home hosting opportunities again soon. 

But what I would like to focus on in my April newsletter is our Diplomacy In Action program. Did you know that since 2016, we have contacted our International Visitor alumni to see what they have been doing since they visited Utah? Our Diplomacy In Action program shares their extraordinary stories and accomplishments.

Take our latest story, for example. In 2019, we welcomed Bassam Al-Wachi to Utah on a Promoting Interfaith Dialogue in America program. During Mr. Al-Wachi's visit to Utah, he met with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to discuss portraying faith and religion using social media. He saw the potential of using social media as a fast and reliable tool to relay information and connect people to interfaith dialogues. 

Mr. Al-Wachi helped the bishop of his Chaldean Catholic Church to launch the official website of the Basra & The South Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese in July 2021. While we in Utah might take social media for granted, he shared that offering information about his faith and its role within the country has contributed to interfaith dialogues in Iraq. Since the site's launch, interest in his church and its programs improved, which Mr. Al-Wachi attributes to clear, compelling, and effective social media. 

Mr. Al-Wachi's story is just one of many stories we have collected since 2016. In fact, because of the number of stories we collect each year, we also conduct a qualitative analysis of the information we receive through our Diplomacy In Action program. The research has demonstrated that since they visited Utah: 

81% of alumni have innovative or renewed energy for work or cause; 

29% of alumni have worked to pass democratic laws or public policies; 52% of alumni have hosted fundraisers and volunteer activities in their community; 

and 76% of alumni have an improved perception of Utah and the U.S.

In other words, Citizen Diplomacy - the concept that we all play a role in shaping foreign relations one handshake at a time - works! 

Globally,
Felecia Maxfield-Barrett
Executive Director

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