On October 25th, we welcomed eleven Lebanese visitors attending the IVLP program “Young Leaders Promoting Transparency and Accountability”. During their weeklong visit they met with organizations including the Bexar County Elections Department, MOVE San Antonio, City Year San Antonio, The Libertarian Party of Bexar County, and the City of San Antonio’s Office of the City Clerk. Upon the evening of their arrival, before embarking on these various meetings, the visitors attended SACIV’s “28th Anniversary Dinner”.
We were honored to include our visitors in welcoming Ambassador Reyna Torres Mendivil, Consul General of Mexico in San Antonio, as our keynote speaker and honor "International Leadership Award" recipient Mr. Marcos Fragoso. This was the perfect occasion to welcome our visitors as the dinner provided the perfect opportunity to mingle with SACIV members, corporate sponsors, and local San Antonians. The occasion truly demonstrated to the delegation our diverse community of individuals passionate about international exchange. What better way to kick off their stay in San Antonio?
The primary objective of the delegation’s visit was to gain in-depth understanding of the US political system and the decision-making process. Meeting with Drew Galloway, Executive Directors at MOVE San Antonio informed our visitors of their various methods of involving youth in local elections. Both the visitors and Drew expressed youth participation as a societal challenge in both Lebanon and the United States. Similarly, during a meeting with Ms. Jacquelyn Callanen the visitors learned of the current voting procedure, shifting away from the use of traditional ballots - with paper and pencil - to an electronic method of voter submission.
The delegation was particularly entertained by the meeting led by Matt Pina, from the Libertarian Party of Bexar County. While informative of Libertarian beliefs and practices, he entertained the delegations with hypotheticals of a libertarian government in the United States and Lebanon. The visitors in particular were interested in hearing the speaker’s opinion about the United States involvement in the Middle East and his libertarian proposals. While shocked by the foreign concept of libertarianism, Matt’s down to earth personality and personable demeanor welcomed the visitors to challenge his views and exchange ideas, allowing a stimulating environment for fruitful discussion.
Following the week of meetings, the visitors concluded their trip to San Antonio with exclusive cultural activities. Due to the timing of their visit, they had the opportunity to experience the unforgettable spectacle San Antonio's annual Día de los Muertos celebrations, as well as a local Lebanese Festival. Additionally, the visitors attended a guided Yanawana Mission Tour provided by staff of the “American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions”. (AIT-SCM), a nonprofit organization established by the Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan Nation who are descendants of the aboriginal people who populated South Texas and Northeast Mexico. It is safe to say that our visitors experienced a unique blend of politics and culture during their stay!