In conjunction with the School of Public and Population Health, the Global Ties Idaho program recently connected visitors from Iraq with Boise State University leaders from across campus.
The three visitors and their interpreters, each with backgrounds or interest in public health, came to campus to learn about Boise State’s COVID-19 response. The international visitors — a government spokesperson, a decision support technology leader and infectious control unit leader — met with Boise State President Marlene Tromp, Vice President for University Affairs and Chief Operating Officer Alicia Estey, Director of the COVID Clinical Laboratory Stephanie Hudon, and Director of Medical Services Rochelle Wolfe, among others.
Global Ties Idaho is a nonprofit organization that works to design short-term professional and cultural exchange programs for current and emerging leaders, specialists and scholars from around the world. Around 50 international visitors are welcomed to Idaho through the program each year.
SPPH Professor Uwe Reischl is a board member with the Global Ties Idaho program and helped connect the visitors with Boise State’s COVID-response leaders. Reischl said spending time with people from other countries is a privilege.
“I think it is important that our leaders connect with others from around the world because as a University our vision is to have global impact,” Reischl said. “What better way to do that than to share and connect with other leaders from around the world?”
Reischl said the meeting between the visitors and Boise State leaders was the perfect setting to share ideas and experiences between groups nearly a world apart. While the Boise State panelists discussed campus and community COVID-19 response, the visitors also spoke about Iraq’s response and community experiences.
Global Ties Idaho Board Member Maya Duratovic said roundtable discussions like this help share ideas and experiences that would not otherwise be possible in a more formal setting.
“I believe that when the visitors go back to their home countries, most of them feel that they have developed new friendships in the United States. I also feel that I have made new friends,” Duratovic said. “I am convinced that such friendships may lead to better and more peaceful global relationships.”
Much of the roundtable discussion focused on the processes in documentation COVID-19 cases and planning for alternative class settings and housing. More than anything, both the visitors and university leaders spoke to how difficult it can be to plan for the unexpected.
“Having to respond to a global pandemic is ‘mind boggling.’ No single individual or organization can do this on its own. It has to be a community-wide effort. However, mobilizing a community for such an effort is never easy,” Duratovic said. “Our interaction with the Iraqi visitors confirms this dilemma.”
For Reischl, these visits not only expand his understanding of another country but remind him of how special the Boise community is.
“As a traveler, the experiences I most remember are those when I am able to connect with the locals,” Reischl said. “I want to provide that kind of experience to the visitors that come to Boise, so when they leave they remember us because we made them feel special while they were here.”