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Lincoln has hosted more than 2,000 young and emerging leaders from foreign countries since 1966 through the Lincoln Council for International Visitors (LCIV) and the Mayor’s Committee on International Friendship (MCIF). Their work with citizen diplomacy was celebrated at a dinner Thursday, March 28, attended by 100 members and guests.

Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler presented a proclamation highlighting the work of the volunteer nonprofit LCIV, “whose members believe in promoting citizen diplomacy, bringing peoples of the world closer together by making one friend at a time."

Local programming, community events and dinners in local members’ homes help to connect these international visitors to the Lincoln community and Midwestern spirit.

The keynote speech on the importance of citizen diplomacy was given by Sen. Adam Morfeld, who is founder and executive director of Civic Nebraska. Special guest Anne Grimes, director of the Office of International Visitors (OIV) at the U.S. Department of State, gave remarks on the importance and scope of the work done by LCIV and MCIF with State Department-sponsored leadership exchange programs.

“In all, approximately 5,000 emerging international leaders come to the United States on this exchange each year," Grimes said. "Many of them have memorable trips to Lincoln meeting citizen diplomats like you.”

The organizations’ programming for visitors includes food safety, peace and reconciliation, international trade, water resource management, national security and journalism. Grimes said that the range of programming undertaken here in Nebraska is truly impressive.

“The benefit of exchange programs is reciprocal," she said. "International visitors bring with them professional skills and cultural perspectives that we hope also enrich your lives every bit as much as they themselves are enriched.”

In 2018, LCIV and the Mayor’s Committee hosted 97 visitors from 46 countries. Visitors this month will include 19 fellows for the Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists-U.S. Foreign Policy. They are primarily from the Middle East and Africa.

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Elected as officers and board members at the LCIV and MCIF annual meeting prior to the dinner were Crystal Bock Thiessen, president; Brooke David, vice president; Paul Johnson, secretary; Sherri Johnson, treasurer; Lisa Lee, first contact; Gary Heusel, second contact; and Cassidy Bohac, director. Other directors are Lee Rockwell, Barb Hoppe, Justin Spooner and Elaine Hammer. Rockwell is the immediate past president, and Brian Ridenour is also a past president.

Dinner and corporate sponsors of LCIV include Ameritas, the Lincoln Community Foundation, Nebraska Wesleyan University, Nelnet/Allo and the Brasch Group.

For more information on LCIV, see lciv.org, Facebook at LincolnCIV and twitter @LincolnCIV.

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L Magazine editor

Mark Schwaninger is L magazine and Neighborhood Extra editor.

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