On September 26th - October 1st, 2019, SACIV welcomed seven international visitors from Kyrgyzstan for an IVLP single country project entitled “Strengthening the Capacity of Government Spokespersons to Handle Disinformation." This program was planned to foster greater understanding of the concepts of democracy, government, and citizenship, and their importance to U.S. civil society. Visitors also had a chance to learn about model programs and initiatives that promote civic engagement and youth leadership.
On Friday morning, our visitors met with the representatives of San Antonio Police Department where they had an open discussion about the community participation programs. The participants heard answers to their questions regarding the relationship between fighting crime and protecting the rights of the public and of alleged criminals. They also learned about transparency, accountability in the police force, interaction with different levels of government and the pertinent current issue of nondiscrimination.
Later that day, our guests met with the representatives of the UTSA’s Dreamer’s Center. During this meeting, our guests heard about its work in supporting the university’s DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients and other undocumented students. The delegation was specifically interested in the leadership strategies targeted for youth that facilitate social empowerment.
In the afternoon, the Kyrgyz delegation headed to CPS Energy for a meeting with representatives from their communications team, to discuss their communication strategies as well as their programs in the community. Our guests discussed a number of mutual issues and solutions.
The weekend started well for our guests as they also had a chance to explore Missions and learn about the history of San Antonio. Later that evening, they were welcomed by the members of SACIV for “home hospitality” experiences, where the guests learned about everyday Texan life. Each participant enjoyed these conversations in a friendly environment.
On Monday morning, the delegation traveled to Austin where they met with the representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Each of the meetings demonstrated the best practices in communicating with constituents and the media during times of trouble for their agency or ministry.
On Tuesday morning, the visitors met with a representative of the Homeland Security Investigations, a critical investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security and a vital US asset in combating criminal organizations illegally exploiting America’s travel, trade, financial and immigration systems. Participants heard about the agency’s investigations of cross-border criminal activities that concern national security along the South Texas border.
In the afternoon our guests had a productive discussion with representatives of the office of Texas State Representative Diego Bernal. This discussion helped the participants examine the similarities and differences of the political system and the ways in which pluralism, tolerance, and volunteerism are components of civic life in the United States.
Next, our guests met with representatives of Catholic Charities of San Antonio. During this meeting, our they learnt about the organization’s work towards the successful community integration and resettled refugees and their families in San Antonio. The delegation was specifically interested in the youth services this organization offers refugees and immigrants as was impressed by many success stories.
Overall, this group enjoyed the rich history and diversity of San Antonio which provided them with a holistic view of the United States through the lenses of a unique southern city. We are very grateful for all our partnering organizations who welcomed guests and helped our further our important mission. #ExchangeMatters