International Visitors

The Iowa International Center administers two professional exchange programs for international visitors: the International Visitor Leadership Program and the Community Connections Program.


International Visitor Leadership Program

What do Margaret Thatcher, Hamid Karzai, Nicolas Sarkozy and Helmut Kohl have in common? All are alumni of the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP).

Since 1976, the Iowa International Center has participated in IVLP as a hosting organization, coordinating programs throughout Central Iowa for international delegates visiting Des Moines. IVLP brings over 5,000 visitors a year to the United States on themed projects, focusing on many diverse topics including economics, agriculture, the arts and the U.S. electoral system. Each participant is identified by embassy staff in their home country as a leader or potential leader in fields such as government, the media, the arts, and business. More than 200 current and former Heads of State, 1,500 cabinet-level ministers, and many other distinguished world leaders in government and the private sector have participated in IVLP.

The Iowa International Center serves as a facilitator during the visitors’ stay in Des Moines, coordinating professional meetings with delegates’ Iowa colleagues, visits to educational institutions, business tours, speaking engagements, job shadows, and hospitality dinners. These meetings have provided the starting point for many of the lasting personal and institutional ties between Iowa and other countries around the globe.

Current information on upcoming IVLP programs can be found on the Iowa International Center Calendar.

Interested in volunteering with IVLP? Find more information on our volunteer page.

The Iowa International Center is a proud member of  Global Ties U.S.



Community Connections

The Iowa International Center has also participated in the Community Connections Program, most recently welcoming visitors from Belarus in spring of 2018.

The Community Connections Program provides 3-week, homestay-based practical training opportunities in the U.S. for participants from post-Soviet states and Serbia. Visitors travel to the hosting city for hands-on professional enrichment, site visits, and cultural activities. Since 1996, the Iowa International Center has hosted over 400 visitors through this prestigious program.

The Community Connections Program is sponsored and funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. USAID operates the Community Connections program in conjunction with World Learning and local programming agencies such as the Iowa International Center, which develop and implement local projects. All Community Connections participants are recruited through an open competition and selected by local USAID Missions.

Current information on upcoming Community Connections programs can be found on the Iowa International Center Calendar.

Interested in providing a homestay for a Community Connections participant? Find more information on our volunteer page.



Interested in hosting an international visitor? Click here!


International Exchange Impact by the Numbers

$44,122 in federal funding infused into Iowa’s economy

165 Iowa students engaged with emerging international leaders

$120,536 spent on hotels, retail, food and entertainment

2,944 hours donated by community volunteers

793 hotel nights booked in Iowa

1,327 points of engagement with Iowa professionals

168 emerging global leaders from 77 countries

$1,429,792 in total economic impact


What’s the difference?

International Visitor Leadership Program Community Connections Program
Funding agency U.S. Department of State USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development)
National organizer Seven National Programming Agencies (NPAs) USAID’s private sector partners
Length of program 3 – 5 days 22 days
Programs per year 25 – 35 Varies from one occasionally to one or more per year
Participant origins Countries where the U.S. has diplomatic relations Belarus
Themes Varies based on U.S. foreign policy priorities Varies based on sending country
How are programs assigned to Des Moines? Proactive proposals and by responding to NPA requests for proposals IIC is part of a network of pre-qualified agencies; USAID’s private sector partners determine which agencies submit proposals
Number of U.S. destinations 3 – 6 One
Homestays Occasionally; primarily hotel stays Yes
Opportunities for local volunteers Professional meetings, dinners, cultural activities, volunteer drivers Homestays, cultural activities, professional meetings
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