Maria Drwięga – a graduate of the International Visitor Leadership Program

IVLP is a professional exchange program funded by the US Department of State. During the three-week stay in the United States, participants take part in many interesting meetings. Many topics related to the functioning of the American world of politics, non-governmental organizations as well as broadly understood business are discussed. One obtains a chance to get to know American culture from the inside.

My IVLP adventure began in Washington D.C. – the cradle of American politics. In the heart of the United States, I had the opportunity to learn about the history of Congress, as well as meet representatives of the State Department, who told a bit more about the specifics of their work (see photo). I also had the opportunity to visit other US regions, including Seattle, Denver, Pittsburgh and New Orleans. In all of these cities I had an experience of meeting amazing people who transfer positive energy into action and further professional development, no matter what they do.

Denver gave me the opportunity to learn about local politics and the specificity of campaigning in the region. New Orleans made me aware of the wide range of activities of NGOs dealing with various problems: security (meeting with the social police – see photo), as well as inequality issues (meeting with a representative of the largest organization defending LGBT rights), but also religious groups (see photo). Thanks to the courtesy of local organizations, participants had the opportunity to visit the Boeing factory, as well as talk to representatives of startups, whose innovative ideas are also known on our continent. It is also a city of many cultural attractions: museums, art galleries. I also brought similar experience from Pittsburgh. In the city of three rivers, I had the opportunity to meet representatives of the local staffs of candidates for the President of the United States.
The meetings I have mentioned are just a hint of what I saw in the United States. Due to the specificity of the program, the trip agenda was extremely tense and each participant had a feeling of spending good time.

As a Polish representative, I could confront my observations with other participants from all over Europe. Such an experience enormously enriches the view of many issues from a completely different perspective. The optimism and hospitality of the Americans encouraged me to return to the US quickly in order to further explore their culture.