Last week we were excited to host our Annual Dinner to once more bring together members of San Antonio’s internationally-minded community to exchange ideas, meet international visitors, enjoy a wonderful meal, and recognize the accomplishments in citizen diplomacy.
At the University of the Incarnate Word’s Grossman International Conference Center, tables were set for a lovely meal. Attendees entered a few at a time to come register and begin mingling with SACIV members, leaders in international organizations, and our four IVLP visitors from Japan and China. Everyone had a wonderful time engaging in cross-cultural dialogue and discussing their own experiences forging transnational connections.
As the program began and everyone took their seats, the Chair of the San Antonio Council for International Visitors, Betsy Cameron, welcomed everyone to our event. She also then introduced two IVLP participants to say a bit about themselves and their specific program. Ms. Juan Wang, who came to San Antonio as part of her program on U.S. Government and Society, explained the importance of her appointments in learning holistically about the United States and helping her create better international understanding for her job in the foreign office of Ningxia Hui in China. Next, Ms. Aya Takeda introduced herself and the other participants from Japan as well as expressed excitement for her upcoming appointments dealing with regional tourism promotion.
After an invocation from Reverend Schellenberg, we began enjoying the meal of chicken cutlets in a white wine and lemon sauce with asparagus, smashed potatoes, and delicious dinner rolls. It was as everyone was concluding their entrees that Betsy Cameron readied SACIV’s new promotional video to show everyone assembled. The video, championed by Board Member Sandra Richardson, describes the mission and purpose of SACIV with photos from countless delegations over many years of active citizen diplomacy.
Chair Betsy Cameron then introduced the night’s keynote speaker, Mr. Richard Perez, President and CEO of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. In addition to having worked in business and at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Mr. Perez was also responsible for representing District 4 on the San Antonio City Council. In that role, he explained throughout his address, he had the opportunity to expand the range of person-to-person diplomacy options available to the City of San Antonio and the people it serves. He emphasized the importance of these cross-cultural connections not only from a business or networking standpoint but also as a way to increase mutual understanding.
The speech was very well received and Mr. Perez’s perspective reinforced the value of SACIV’s work. Betsy Cameron thanked Mr. Perez and presented him with a token of SACIV’s esteem before continuing to thank others who had contributed greatly to local diplomacy. Irma Reyes, founder of SACIV, came to the podium to present Janet and Sam Scott with this year’s International Leadership Awards. Before retirement, Janet Scott taught overseas in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, and Cameroon. She also worked as a Community Liaison Officer for the American Embassies in Cameroon and Malawi. Sam Scott as a member of the Foreign Service in the U.S. Agency for International Development worked as a Development Officer in Central America and Sub-saharan Africa after serving as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army. After retirement, he continued to serve through his work for the Institute for International Public Policy and the United Negro College Fund. Together, the two of them have also continued to be active in supporting citizen diplomacy in San Antonio. SACIV was overjoyed to recognize their years of diplomatic accomplishments with our International Leadership Award.
As the night concluded with closing remarks from our Chair, we were glad to be able to host another honest, open gathering of citizen diplomats in San Antonio. Their interest in and support for international projects has made our work possible, and it is in events like this that their support is most visible. Thank you to all who attended and made the night so successful.