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Ukrainian Professionals Bid Farewell to Iowa

April 16, 2014

The month of March was very busy at IRIS, as we hosted 10 Ukrainian professionals here on a World Learning Participant Training Program called “Tolerance and Diversity to Strengthen a Democratic Society.” The participants came from Western regions in Ukraine, working in education, government, and non-profit positions. While here, IRIS arranged meetings with organizations around the state of Iowa for participants to learn about how Iowa addresses the needs, rights, and livelihoods of minorities, refugees, and immigrants.

During the three weeks, participants lived with volunteer host families around the Des Moines area. From day one, our participants and their hosts bonded quickly. Hosts took their guests on road trips, visited local museums and community events, and shared their lives with the Ukrainians. The Ukrainians in turn spoke with their hosts about current events in Ukraine, shared hobbies, and cooked Ukrainian meals. By the end of the three weeks, the guests were calling their hosts “Mom” and “Dad.”

IRIS would like thank all host families and those who volunteered but were unable to host at this time. Without host families, IRIS would be unable to continue these types of programs. You are the heart of our organization, and your time, hospitality, and generosity can never be thanked enough. To the Hofferbers, Rowlands, Geadelmanns, Browns, Moermonds, and Ms. Mitchell, we and the Ukrainians you hosted thank you.

IRIS would also be unable to create dynamic programs like this one without organizations, businesses, and public figures offering to take time out of their busy schedules to meet with our groups. Thank you to the following groups, organizations, and people:

  • City of Ames Human Relations Commission
  • Iowa Safe Schools
  • Juntos Si Se Puede/Iowa College Aid
  • Iowa Citizens’ Aide/Ombudsman
  • Heartland Area Education Agency Cultural Competence Program
  • U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
  • Iowa State Legislature, especially Senator Daryl Beall, Senate President Pat Jochum, and Representative Deborah Berry
  • Iowa Immigration Education Coalition
  • 28th Annual Greater Des Moines Friends of Human Rights Symposium
  • Iowa Immigrant Voice Project
  • EMBARC Iowa
  • American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa
  • Iowa Bureau of Refugee Services
  • Iowa Department of Education
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Creative Visions and Representative Ako Abdul-Samad
  • Lutheran Services in Iowa, Refugee Services Program
  • Meskwaki Settlement
  • Hispanics United for Perry/Perry L.I.N.K. Program
  • Dallas County Public Hospital
  • Perry Community Schools
  • Karen Organization of Minnesota
  • Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota
  • Neighborhood Development Center
  • Midtown Global Market
  • Community CPA & Iowa Immigrant Entrepreneur Summit
  • Iowa Department of Human Rights
  • Iowa Governor’s LGBTQ Conference Reception
  • Grandview University Cross-Cultural Class and Professor Ahmadu Baba-Singhri

Without your support, time, energy, and patience, our group wouldn’t have left gushing with ideas about how to make a better, stronger, more tolerant community in Ukraine.

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If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about another country, sharing professional ideas, and building a stronger world, consider short term hosting a future Participant Training Program professional from eastern Europe. Contact kim@iris-center.org for more information about short term hosting opportunities. We are always in search of more individuals and families to welcome our international guests to Iowa!

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