On September 18th - September 24th, 2019, SACIV welcomed eight international visitors from Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Slovakia and Tajikistan for an IVLP multi-regional project entitled “21st Century Change Makers: Information Technology Leaders Explore Cyber Security Strategies." This program was planned to provide participants with the opportunity to gain insight into the impact of cyber-connectivity on the social, economic and political fabric of San Antonio. They also had a chance to observe institutional and operational practices and standards for cybersecurity in San Antonio.
On Thursday morning, our visitors started their visit with a wonderful meeting at the Communication Arts High School where IVLP guests had an open conversation with students from a journalism class. The participants were excited to share about their professional experiences and present about their home countries during this meeting. Students’ questions were sincere and quite practical for the role of a future journalist.
Later that day, our guests met with the Cybersecurity Reporter at the River Report who discussed the role of journalists in keeping the public up-to-date about technology and cybersecurity issues. He highlighted the challenges in providing comprehensive coverage of a complex topic that is often difficult for the public to understand.
That afternoon, our delegation had met at the Department of Information Systems and Cyber Security at UTSA. They learned about current programs and initiatives that are offered to students who are interested in becoming cybersecurity professionals. They also learned about best practices in the education of future cybersecurity professionals and what type of research and new trends are being explored by the university’s experts. The delegation enjoyed the presentation and were inspired by its creative approaches for future generations.
The day of meetings ended at a round table meeting with the representative of the Office of U.S. Congressman Will Hurd, where IVLP guests discussed the work being done on cybersecurity policy. They also learned about the district office communication with constituents on this topic and the current cybersecurity concerns that Congressman’s office is considering.
On Friday morning, IVLP guests met with the representatives of the Southwest Research Institute that works with government and commercial clients. Participants heard about the challenges currently facing government, private entities, and military clients related to cybersecurity and technologies.
Their next meeting was with the Executive Director of the CyberTexas Foundation, who continued the conversation about how centralized expertise can lead to greater cooperation and breakthrough in the field, as this organization promotes cyber workforce development, strong academic programs in cybersecurity, efforts to attract and support cyber business to the region and attention to cyber awareness.
After lunch, they headed to meet with another school, the International School of the Americas, where both students and participants had profound conversations at about four main topics: government, IT, journalism, and law enforcement. Students were divided into smaller groups and had a chance to rotate and talk to every visitor. Both the staff of the school, the students, and our IVLP guests admitted what a fruitful learning experience this opportunity provided.
Their visit in San Antonio wouldn’t be complete without cultural activities. Therefore, on Saturday, our guests had the opportunity to experience home hospitality as SACIV members welcomed participants into their homes or favorite restaurants for dinner and enlightening discussions. And on Sunday, they toured the beautiful surrounding Texas “Hill Country”, including Gruene, Fredericksburg, and Bandera.
On Monday morning, the IVLP guest took part in the community service in the San Antonio Food Bank. It was a practical time where our guests learned about this organization, its facilities and programs. Later the group went to Rackspace, where they were given a tour of the building. The delegation learned about corporation’s history, mission, and world-wide work and met with the corporate counsel, who were able to answer their questions about international work. After this meeting, our group went to the Rackspace Open Cloud Academy at Geekdom, where they learned about the programs offered to the community and individuals who want to start careers in the tech industry. The delegation asked many questions about the details of the certification process heard about several student success stories. It was an inspiring meeting to see the collaboration between business and the community.
The visit to San Antonio was intense and busy for our guests, as the program highlighted the role of role of universities in research and education of cybersecurity experts, the role of journalism in educating and informing on technology and cybersecurity, and corporate perspectives on cybersecurity. Overall, our visitors were pleased with the opportunity to examine these themes firsthand and made good connections for future collaboration and research. #ExchangeMatters