The Council Participates in National Conference

Global Ties 2015

On February 4, 2015, Michelle Harpenau, Executive Director; Katie Krafka, Director of Global Education; and Catharina Toltzis, Board Chair, flew from CVG Airport to Washington DC for a three day national conference with over 600 attendees hosted by one of Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council’s national affiliates: Global Ties U.S. The meeting provided a wealth of resources for over a hundred other regional councils.

Planning Committee

Michelle was chosen to be one of the Planning Committee Members for the national conference which included a select group of fellow council executives, national programming agencies, and Department of State representatives. In this role, along with her fellow committee members, she planned three of the professional development workshops: International Visitors Enhance Global Education, #Hashtag How-To: The Value of Real-Time Communications in the World of Exchange, and Mastering the Art of Business Protocol. Michelle declared, “I was inspired to work with my colleagues throughout the U.S. to plan such an important celebration for the 75th anniversary of exchange programs. The ‘New Diplomacy’ theme tied the conference together and will lead to many additional international relationships for our network.

“It is important to attend this conference to understand the enormous impact of the International Visitor Leadership Program. It makes you proud to be a part of something so influential and vast.” -Catharina Toltzis 

Workshop Presenters

The Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council staff, Michelle and Katie, were honored to conduct the workshop, International Visitors Enhance Global Education, at the conference along with Amanda Stamp, Education Director from the DC council, and Marc Weinstein, Program Manager from FHI 360 to share their expertise.

Building Relationships

In this panel—style presentation on International Visitors Enhance Global Education, Amanda Stamp, Education Director, spoke first about the significance of building relationships with schools. She mentioned, “the more people and departments supporting your efforts, the easier it will be for teachers to bring visitors to the classroom. You must “sell” someone on the idea of your programs and get them to engage.”

Marc Weinstein, Program Manager, spoke next about the why international visitors should be included in classroom visits or other community events. “School visits provide great opportunities to highlight the value of visitor exchanges specifically through the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) in the community. A group of educators from El Salvador, for instance, coming to the U.S. for a program looking at improving the quality of secondary school for at-risk youth may have a great opportunity to observe after-school activities of kids at an American school”

Global Classrooms

Katie Krafka, Director of Global Education, opened her section with a fun game of global trivia which is a powerful tool that she uses to engage students with the around them in her global classrooms program, like the quote below.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy was filmed in what country?” – Global Trivia Example

Furthermore, she described a specific global classroom example with partner organization, Partners for Innovations in Education, where students in grades 4th through 6th at Pleasant Ridge Montessori conducted a STEM case study on the 2016 Brazil Olympics. The council worked with the kids on this case study and amplified the impact of this program by connecting the students to a group of Brazilian visitors at the end of the case study. The visitors met with the students and listened to their presentation. One visitor commented, “The students taught me about my own country!”

“Connecting these students to people from Brazil really helped bring more meaning to the project and brought it to life! This is how we should be incorporating global education into the classroom.” -Katie Krafka

Global Gaggles

In addition to moderating the panel presentations, Michelle Harpenau – Executive Director, presented her experiences with the Council’s own Global Gaggles speaker program. When an exchange program is in town, the council arranges a speaking opportunity for the group to share their career expertise and additional insights in the American perspectives on the topic as the visitors have been traveling throughout the U.S. For instance, the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council hosted the IVLP Gold Star on the topic of Promoting Tolerance through the Arts – Michael Mabwe, a slam poet from Zimbabwe. His spoken word was politically inspiring more work within his home country and a new experience for our community. This type of engagement is a part of the education programs because it is building awareness and understanding of the world. Coincidentally, Michael Mabwe was invited to attend this year’s conference and notably introduced Dr. Jill Biden, Second Lady of the United States, with moving slam poetry.

“Who better to learn from than an international visitors speaking from first hand experiences about their home country?” -Michelle Harpenau

Continuing the Conversation

The Council’s Director of Global Education, Katie Krafka, emphasizes the importance of these types of international relationships: “These encounters [of international visitors in global classrooms] make something distant and abstract into a person with a name and a voice.”

“I was very impressed with Michelle and Katie’s presentation about incorporating international visitors into global education programs. I am proud to share the successful programs from Cincinnati on a national stage.” – Catharina Toltzis


We at the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council are proud of our national connections and international encounters we foster through community engagement. Get involved and support our endeavors in 2015 and beyond!

For more information, read what the Council accomplished in 2014.

Hannah McGahee, Social Media Intern


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