Iowa International Center Newsflash - Edition 7 - 2015

Do You Know the Inspiring Stories
of These Global Iowans?

p2p Instagram Group copy 2
How well do your know the global Iowans who have made our state a better place to live?

Have you heard the inspiring story of a refugee of Burma, born in a refugee camp in Thailand, who is now helping fellow members of her Karen culture thrive in Iowa, using her own inspiring journey to U.S. citizenship as motivation? Or the bold journey of a six-year-old boy from an orphanage in Turkey, who through his tenacity and talent, immigrated to the U.S. as a young adult to pursue dance and curate an appreciation for classical ballet in Iowa?

During this year's Passport to Prosperity Celebration, we'll introduce you to these amazing people - five outstanding honorees in all - who are immigrants or refugees and call Iowa home. Be there as we share their dynamic stories, and see their contributions to the cultural, social and economic fabric of our communities. 

Over the next few weeks, we'll also share glimpses of their personal journeys on our Facebook page.

Plan now to join us Saturday, September 26, at 6 p.m. at the Olmsted Center at Drake University for Passport to Prosperity!

You'll not only enjoy a fabulous evening with a menu reflecting the native cultures of our honorees, as well as dynamic cultural entertainmentbut you'll also be supporting the Iowa International Center's Ray Resource Initiative - a campaign to help refugees and immigrants throughout the state, with former Governor Ray's leadership in welcoming the world to Iowa a generation ago as our inspiration. Passport to Prosperity tickets are only $50, and can be purchased here online. 

2015 Passport Sponsors:

Conlin Family Foundation

John Deere bw logo              principal financial

bpc_black_logo capital-city-fruit-logo-web

DavisBrown_2c_RGB      dmacc logo

Mr. Jeffrey Aden

Mr. Don Kopriva

Corporate and individual Passport sponsorships ensure recognition as a champion of Iowa's rich cultural heritage. Call Amy at 282-8269, ext. 15 for details.


Our Ray Resource Initative supports new Iowans with free multilingual resources and educational opportunities. 

Donate today to support our work in welcoming the
world to Iowa. 

donate no cards image


Follow us on social media!
facebook logoTwitter logolinked in logo

IIC's Accessible English Classes Help 
Build Skills - And a Sense of Community

DR ESL 7 2015 2

The inability to communicate in English and engage with members outside of one's own community can be an isolating - and sometimes devastating - experience. An article just this week by Rehka Basu of the Des Moines Register shares the impact of depression and isolation on Bhutanese refugees in Iowa - leading to hopelessness, cultural conflict and for some, even suicide. Pictured above are students gathered for the 9 a.m. ESL Class at Deer Ridge Apartments, five of whom are from Bhutan. Students from other countries, including Laos, Sudan, Congo, Somalia and China, are also learning how to communicate in English and improve their lives through our ESL classes on site at Deer Ridge Apartments. The classes are privately supported throught the Iowa International Center's Ray Resource Initiative campaign - designed to give new Iowans the resources needed to thrive in our state. Free instruction and professional teachers help to engage students, build trust and create strong connections - all for the benefit of refugees and their families. The inspiration for this campaign comes from former Governor Ray's leadership in welcoming and providing critical resources to refugees coming to Iowa a generation ago. The Iowa International Center currently offers Accessible ESL classes for refugees and immigrants in two locations in Des Moines, several times a week.

Your contribution to support this work has a direct impact on the success of new Iowans in our community! 

Don't Miss These IIC Dialogue Series Events!


Nguyen square

40 Years of Resettlement: 
The Vietnamese American
Community in Iowa

Tuesday, August 4 - Noon to 1 p.m.
Central Library, 1000 Grand Avenue
Downtown Des Moines

Vinh Nguyen is the English Language Learner (ELL) Program Coordinator for the Des Moines Public Schools, and helps provide resources for young refugees and immigrants dealing with the language barriers and cultural struggles he once experienced. During this Dialogue programVinh will be joined by a Vietnamese marine veteran and a young Vietnamese entrepreneur, and the group will share issues affecting the different waves of Vietnamese migration, and the impact in the community over the last 40 years - a timely subject given the fact that 2015 marks the 40th year since the Fall of Saigon. Click here for more program information. 
Maeve Callan hi res smaller
One State, Many Faiths:
Religious Diversity in Iowa

Tuesday, September 1 - Noon to 1 p.m.
Central Library, 1000 Grand Avenue
Downtown Des Moines 

Dr. Maeve Callan, Associate Professor of Religion at Simpson College in Indianola, has been studying and teaching religion for more than 25 years. A first-generation American whose family emigrated from Ireland, her book, The Templars, the Witch, and the Wild Irish: Vengeance and Heresy in Medieval Ireland, was published earlier this year by Cornell University Press in the U.S. and Four Courts Press in Ireland. During this Dialogue Program, Dr. Callan will discuss Iowa’s rich religious diversity, which contradicts common assumptions and will explore the ways in which religious diversity and American democracy mutually enrich and challenge each other. Click here for more program information. 
About the Iowa International Center Dialogue Series

The Iowa International Center Dialogue Series is a monthly forum highlighting current international issues and current events and providing audience members the opportunity to ask questions and learn from experts. Dialogue Series events are free and open to the public. We thank our promotional sponsors:

greater dsm partnership logodrake jpg 2dmpl_color

Popular videos of past Dialogue presentations include: 

- Karen Miller of Manpower of Des Moines and leadership from Capital City Fruit, 3M, Lemar Industries and Pine Ridge Farms: :Tapping into the Untapped Workforce"
- Des Moines Public Library Staff and Volunteer Panel Discussion: "Coffee and Conversations: Bringing English Language Learners into the Conversation"
​- Rob Dillard of Iowa Public Radio: "Being in Iowa: A Thoughtful Look at Iowa's Diverse Population" 
​- Expert Panel including Immigration Attorney Lori Chesser and Marshalltown Chief of Police Michael Tupper: “Immigrants and Drivers Licenses”


IIC Welcomes New Board Member Christa Olson

christa OlsonThe Iowa International Center is proud to welcome Dr. Christa Olson of Drake University to our Board of Directors. Dr. Olson serves as Drake University’s first Vice Provost for International Programs. In this capacity, she is charged with developing and advancing Drake’s Internationalization and Global Engagement Strategic plan, overseeing administrative offices responsible for supporting Drake’s internationalization efforts, and collaborating with colleagues across the Drake community, in Des Moines and around the world. Prior to coming to Drake, Olson served as the Associate Director for International Initiatives at the American Council of Education.

Dr. Olson's involvement enhances the bond between the Iowa International Center and Drake. Our organization was founded on Drake's Campus in 1938, and Drake is home to Passport to Prosperity, our largest annual celebration and fundraiser. Drake also serves as a promotional sponsor of IIC's Dialogue series. Welcome, Christa!

Volunteers Offer Knowledge and Iowa
Hospitality to International Visitors


Sehgal Foundation Logo 2The Sehgal Foundation International Visitors Center at the Iowa International Center recently experienced a delightful deluge of emerging global leaders. In July alone, 26 visitors from 20 countries took part in professional exchanges in central Iowa through the IVLP (International Visitor Leadership Program.) Program topics included Women Leaders as Engines of Social Change, Human Rights & Minority Advocacy, U.S. & European Security Issues, and Youth Agricultural Outreach & Extension. These emerging global leaders learned, listened and enjoyed interactions with our volunteers, and built memories to last a lifetime. Pictured above are visitors from Central and South America, as they met with Mone Aye (2015 Passport Honoree) and Rachel Vannice of EMBARC (Ethnic Minorities of Burma Advocacy and Resource Center.) Mone and Rachel shared how EMBARC addresses the needs of Burmese refugees in Iowa. 

Thanks to the many outstanding volunteers who made July successful! 

July Professional Host Volunteers:
Brenda Allen - Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
Rep. Marti Anderson - Iowa Legislature
Mone Aye - EMBARC
Creative Visions - Ako Abdul Samad & Gary Woods, with fellow staff and volunteers
Keenan Crow - One Iowa
Matthew Eddy - SE Polk High School 
Laura Graham - Des Moines Human Rights Commission
Col. Greg Hapgood - Iowa National Guard
Denny Harding - Renew Rural Iowa/Iowa, Farm Bureau
Jennie Hargrove - Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
Greg Hudson and students - Valley High School Model UN
Jacob Hunter - World Food Prize
Former Lt. Governor Patty Judge
Cynde Keatin - Madison County Extension and Outreach
Grant Kimberley - Iowa Soybean Association
Asst. Special Agent in Charge Mike Kitsmiller
Special Agent Kevin Kohler - FBI
Former Ambassador Mary Kramer
Zeljka Krvavica - Iowa Bureau of Refugee Services
Peter Kyveryga - Iowa Soybean Association
Dr. Susie Meade - Winterset Schools Winterset Community School District

Kim North - Iowa State Seed Testing Laboratory
Rep. Zach Nunn - Iowa Legislature
Sen. Janet Petersen - Iowa Legislature
Donna Red Wing - One Iowa 
Heather Riley - Madison County Chamber of Commerce
Nathan Ritz and the Greater Des Moines Partnership Diversity & Inclusion Council
Matt Sexton - Office of U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (Des Moines)
Dr. Rizwan Shah, M.D.
Rachel Vannice - EMBARC
Kelsey Warner - Story County Fair

John Wilken - Iowa Bureau of Refugee Services
Mary Wilkins - Story County Fair
Kevin Winker
 - Iowa Department of Public Safety
Dr. Jeff Wolt - BIGMAP, Iowa State University
Col. Michael Wunn - Iowa National Guard
Mike Zeller - Biotechnology Outreach Education Center, Iowa State University 

July Home Hospitality Volunteers:
C.N. Anderson & Christen Bain
Doug and Patty Dornacker
Wayne and Lisa Ellis 
Harold and Carol Hill
Megan Hill
Larry and Barb James 
Karen Lienhard-Smith
Bob "Mac" and Mary Mackenzie
Jeff and Wendy Sontag 
Diana Whited

Key Dates To Remember

August 4 - IIC Dialogue Series - 40 Years of Resettlement: The Vietnamese Community in Iowa, with Vinh Nguyen of DMPS
August 5 - 9 - IVLP program focused on U.S. Foreign Policy Challenges, with visitors from Croatia, Finland, Netherlands, Turkey, and the United Kingdom
August 11 - 13 - IVLP program focused on Good Governance and Refugee Services, with visitors from the Republic of Georgia 
August 12 - 15 - IVLP program focused on Youth Leadership and Community Service,
with visitors from Estonia and Latvia

August 16 - 19 - IVLP program welcome visiting veterinarians from Azerbaijan
Sept. 1 - IIC Dialogue SeriesOne State, Many Faiths: Religious Diversity in Iowa, with
Dr. Maeve Callan, Simpson College

Sept. 7 - Labor Day (IIC office will be closed)
Sept. 26 - Passport to Prosperity, The Olmsted Center at Drake University 

Visit the Iowa International Center's calendar at for upcoming events, holiday observances and cultural events. 


Please visit for organizational news, event listings, program information, interpretation and translation resources, volunteer opportunities and more! 

Please visit
for a complete listing of resources for
new Iowans in 80 languages online. 


Iowa International Center
319 7th St. | Suite 200

Des Moines, IA 50309
Phone 515-282-8269
Fax 515-282-0454

facebook logoTwitter logolinked in logo

Forward this message to a friend

Click to view this email in a browser

If you no longer wish to receive these emails, please reply to this message with "Unsubscribe" in the subject line or simply click on the following link: Unsubscribe

Iowa International Center
319 7th Street
Suite 200
Des Moines, Iowa 50309

Read the VerticalResponse marketing policy.

Non-Profits Email Free with VerticalResponse!