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  • Writer's picturePhiladelphia International Medicine

Citizen Diplomat Academy: Connecting Philadelphia to the World

As a corporate partner, PIM is proud to support Citizen Diplomacy International, the Greater Philadelphia region's international affairs organization. A nonprofit organization founded by the City of Philadelphia in 1954, Citizen Diplomacy is the regional partner of the U.S. Department of State to engage Philadelphians in foreign affairs. Their programs include the prestigious International Visitor Leadership Program, the Sister Cities Program in 10 countries, and the Citizen Diplomat Academy Youth Exchange Program. Through international exchange, they promote the best of Philadelphia and connect Philadelphia's institutions and people to others around the globe in pursuit of a more peaceful and prosperous world. In response to the COVID-related shortage in international education for young people, Citizen Diplomacy recently launched the Citizen Diplomat Academy; a free, virtual, international exchange program for high school and university students in Philadelphia and abroad who are interested in addressing the world’s most pressing challenges. Philadelphia students have not traveled since February 2020 and schools are not planning to resume in-person programs until earliest Spring 2022, leaving a two-year--or even longer--gap in high school exchange programs. In this all virtual out-of-school time program, students make friends with peers abroad who share their interest in STEM innovation and social entrepreneurship. Social opportunities are combined with lessons in the core skills of diplomacy, cross-cultural dialogue, business, and civic engagement from a rotating group of instructors from the top universities, business start-ups, social innovation labs, and cultural institutions in Philadelphia and around the world. The program appeals to a generation of young people who see themselves as global citizens, entrepreneurial innovators, and cultural changemakers, and who possess the confidence and skill set to thrive in a global marketplace. Exchange programs are critical to initiating a life-long interest in global affairs and to building education equity. One such student is Joyce, is a 15-year-old , Asian American student from a low-income Philadelphia neighborhood, who applied to the program sharing, "Due to this pandemic my social interactions, hobbies, and genuine interests have been halted and I am worn out from being so deprived of the experiences of normal life. I imagined the first year of high school to be a chance to properly meet people and a new chapter of my life, and so far it has been very different. '' After her four-week exchange with Sister City Frankfurt and Philadelphia, Joyce said that, “I learned so many genuine and raw topics that are rarely discussed in school. Rather than merely eye-opening, it was endearing to hear others my age speak about such topics, issues, and learn together. And having people from other countries have discussions with me was genuinely enjoyable. The professionals really gave me such great insight on work opportunities and pathways, problems in different industries, and so much more.” CEO Siobhan Lyons, says of the organization's three-year commitment to serve 80% students of color and other minority groups, "BIPOC students who are participating in our free international exchange programs, “How to Succeed as a STEM Innovator” and “How to Succeed as a Social Innovator”, will not have access to face-to-face, live international education for 2 -3 years. All Philadelphia students to have equitable access to educational opportunities. These virtual international exchange opportunities keep learning and dialogue across cultures possible." Especially at PIM, we understand that one introduction to an international friend can influence the trajectory of someone's life in a positive, lasting way.

For more information, including details on how to participate and opportunities to donate, visit:

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