WorldOregon is proud to have the counsel and support of over 30+ community leaders who volunteer as members of our Board of Advisors. Their guidance and perspective helps us to create programs which encourage cultural diversity and international perspectives here in Oregon.
But our WorldOregon Board of Advisors does a lot more than just advise--they also host international visitors, act as youth mentors, and participate in reverse exchange opportunities--taking the idea of "getting involved" to a whole new level!
We caught up with four of our Advisors to hear more about their experiences getting involved with our International Visitor Program in 2019!
Immigrant and Refugee Integration, Equity in Practice Advisor, City of Portland
For the last three years Linda has hosted many international visitors where she works at City Hall to present information on civic engagement, immigrant and refugee programs, city business and witness City Council in action. Through WorldOregon, Linda also met U.S. Department of State International Woman of Courage award recipient, Cindy Arlette Contreras Bautista, who launched the #NiUnaMenos protests in Peru against femicide and violence against women. Linda was then able to organize a public presentation about her experience and the protests she launched in Peru.
Recently Linda traveled with our partners to Qatar where she joined 11 other staff and Board members from World Affairs Councils of America members like WorldOregon from across the U.S. They had a detailed cultural exchange and discussion about foreign affairs, blockade impacts for Qatar, growth and prosperity, and met many of the leaders in the various Qatar government ministries.
"International exchanges provide us an opportunity to learn from each other and seek collaborative opportunities."
County Economist, Multnomah County
Jeff started out as a member of the WorldOregon Young Professionals Steering Committee--helping to plan events for early-to-mid career professionals in the Portland metro area. When Jeff and his wife Stephanie bought their house over six years ago, they immediately started hosting dinners for WorldOregon’s international visitor program. Since then they have hosted more than 25 groups--from quiet dinners with just one guest to large parties with 20 guests and local friends. There are many reasons Jeff continues to get involved with the international visitor program--but Jeff says "the main reason is that it is a lot of fun."
Jeff remains Facebook friends with many guests and they sometimes even text over WhatsApp. They have also visited some of their guests while traveling abroad--including Jan-Erik in Berlin and Anik in Mexico City.
"These exchanges are important because this type of person-to-person interaction is what inoculates us (and the broader community) against xenophobia and prejudice."
Principal, Lincoln High School, Portland Public Schools
As Principal, Peyton is always looking for ways to expand globalism at Lincoln High School--a school whose mission statement includes the goal of helping grow actively engaged citizens who are prepared to work for a more just and peaceful world. She is deeply committed to meaningful youth leadership opportunities and has facilitated several meetings where international youth visitors can "shadow" Lincoln students, tour the school, observe classes, and share a meal together.
Peyton and her family also participate in overnight hosting each August and have met students from Togo, Benin, and Iraq. They mainly keep in touch via social media, where they exchange messages and can see photos of what they are doing back home.
"Exchanges help reduce othering by providing connection and shared experiences. Breaking down stereotypes and building goodwill and friendship are crucial in today’s fractured and too often divisive world."
Founder, Ruby Jewel
Lisa first got involved with WorldOregon in 2018 when her company, Ruby Jewel, hosted Phillip Kellman, an entrepreneur from Barbados as part of the U.S. Department of State’s Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative. It was a positive experience immersing him into Ruby Jewel during his exchange, where Lisa said his curiosity, willingness to learn, and creativity proved to be a great "breath of fresh air." Lisa then applied to do a reverse exchange, and ended up visiting Barbados to lead a two week workshop called the "$50 Seed" and lead a group of 10 students through starting and running a business.
In April 2019, Lisa's family hosted Abdi from Kenya through the U.S. Department of State’s Pan-Africa Youth Leadership Program. Abdi got along great with Lisa's eight year old son and even refereed for one of his soccer games. They learned a lot from him about his culture, religion, and family.
"International exchanges are important to open our minds to how people are people and connecting and learning from others helps us to become better versions of ourselves."