Visitors Looking at Community Issues

The third International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) delegation to arrive in Pensacola in September 2015 came from Jordan.  The group of five was in the United States for a project focusing on “Community Approaches to Social Issues.”

After arriving in Pensacola, the visitors kicked off their meetings at City Hall where Councilwoman Sherri Myers welcomed them.  She also spoke about local government structure and presented certificates of honorary citizenship.

The group stayed at City Hall for their next meeting, a roundtable discussion on civic leadership, volunteerism, and strategies to identify and solve community issues.  In addition to Councilwoman Myers, Jonathan Thompson, Alex Andrade, Sophia Young, and Meghan McCarthy attended as representatives of Pensacola Young Professionals and The Junior League of Pensacola.

Next, the visitors had further community interaction during a presentation at the West Florida Public Library on the Syrian refugee crisis in Jordan.  The group spoke about their work, answered questions from the audience, and highlighted how Jordan is coping with hundreds of thousands of refugees.

A discussion on STRIDE (Students Taking Responsibility in Developing Excellence) followed lunch downtown.  President & mentor Eric Pickett and mentor David Hawkins shared STRIDE’s work and how it recruits volunteers.

Their final two days included an all day workshop on building successful coalitions with Akram Elias of Capital Communications Group, Inc. and a meeting with Gulf Breeze Deputy City Manager Curt Carver and Assistant to the City Manager Nathan Ford to discuss the Youth in Government Symposium which gives Gulf Breeze High School students the chance to learn about how city government works.  A meeting with Pensacola Young Professionals (PYP) President Hong Tran, Membership Committee Chair Chuntell Patterson, and Operations Director Sophia Young focused on opportunities available for young professionals to demonstrate leadership and get involved in their community as well as ways to attract sponsors and community support.

The Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council also thanks Gary McGraw for volunteering his time to accompany the Jordanians to their meetings and Brian and Vicki Barlow and Suzanne and Randle Carpenter for hosting members of the group for dinners in their homes.  We are sure that their generosity and warm hospitality will not soon be forgotten by their new Jordanian friends.