Author: Becca Raffo, Northeastern Student & Program Associate at WorldBoston
Every January, members of the WorldBoston team head to Washington, DC for the annual National Meeting of Global Ties U.S. (Global Ties U.S. is one of two WorldBoston national affiliates, corresponding to our Citizen Diplomacy work). The National Meeting brings together about 1,000 professionals in public diplomacy and international exchange to share ideas and highlight leaders in the field. This year, as a WorldBoston Program Associate, I had the opportunity to participate in the Global Ties U.S. Emerging Leaders Program, which integrates distinguished interns and volunteers from the network into the annual Meeting through networking opportunities and informative sessions on careers in public diplomacy. When describing the program, Global Ties U.S. website states,
“Over the course of four days, these young citizen diplomats immerse themselves in the world of public diplomacy and international exchange by attending networking events, workshops, and sessions to hear from professionals in the field.”
“Immersive” is truly the word to describe this experience. Our program was packed from morning to evening, including sessions and panels tailored to our unique position as young professionals entering the workforce. In addition, we were seamlessly integrated into the meeting by attending sessions ranging from Social Media to the Youth Opioid Crisis with our CBM colleagues. We had the invaluable opportunity to network with professionals across the public and private sectors and gain honest insights to shape our individual career goals. Every person we met was so friendly and eager to speak with us about their experiences, and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to grow as a professional in such a warm and welcoming environment.
It is also worth noting that most of this year’s meeting occurred during the partial U.S. government shutdown – certainly an unusual way to experience Washington! It was impressive to see how the Global Ties staff and network rescheduled and rethought sessions due to absences of furloughed speakers. Although all the participants were filled with questions about the implications of the shutdown for our work, the conference remained positive and engaging.
Our sessions and workshops were incredibly informative and eye-opening, but my favorite aspect of the program was getting to know the other Emerging Leaders. There were 18 of us this year, all from different CBMs across the country. We each came to the meeting with our own academic backgrounds and future ambitions, but it became quite apparent that we are forever linked by our love of international exchange. My time at WorldBoston has been underscored by an atmosphere of passion and enthusiasm for connecting Boston with the world, and I am so inspired after seeing this same passion in young people advocating for international exchange in their own cities. The Emerging Leaders Program was both humbling and motivating, and I am excited to see the accomplishments of this new era of the public diplomats.