Representative Marti Anderson has been a continuous supporter of ours and has done great work at the Capitol. We recently asked Anderson to share some thoughts on the connection between her work and what we do at Iowa International Center.
Q: How do you feel welcoming international visitors and promoting international understanding, helps the work that you do for Iowa?
A: I learn a lot about other nations, their government and culture, and their interest in state government in the USA. I have had the opportunity to meet government officials, community leaders, journalists, farmers, and business leaders through the Iowa International Center.
Q: Why do you feel it’s important to welcome international visitors and provide a welcoming community?
A: The Iowa International Center visitors come to Iowa through the U.S. State Department. They travel far and work intensely to learn about our government, NGOs, and culture. We have a responsibility to make them feel welcome, be prepared and open for their questions, to hear their concerns and thoughts. The visitors come ready to give us an exceptional experience of interaction with them.
Q: What resonates with you when reading or thinking of our mission? [As Iowa’s leader in international understanding and civic diplomacy, Iowa International Center enriches lives and creates pathways to prosperity. We lead, teach, connect, and celebrate global culture.]
A: I am drawn to the Iowa International Center’s mission to be a leader in international understanding and civic diplomacy. We must work to understand each other’s perspectives. In doing so diplomacy can help us avoid senseless war in which nations simply resort to sending their young people to kill each other rather than negotiate their differences and needs. I learn so much in meeting with the visitors and find mutual respect and even joy with the participants. We live on a small planet and would be so much happier if we celebrate the many global cultures.
Q: Why do you feel it’s important to highlight the diversity within Des Moines?
A: Des Moines is full of immigrants from every corner of the world. Some have immigrated to Iowa by choice for a new life, others have great-grandparents who were enslaved and forced to our country, and still, others come as refugees and immigrants fleeing violence and poverty in their homeland. Our school district teaches children with over 100 native languages. The diversity of Des Moines is part of our beauty and we need to share that.
We must first realize that regardless of where we come from we are more alike than different. Our nation and state have had long struggles and are struggling still to fulfill our founder’s vision of liberty, equality, justice, opportunity, and happiness for all. The struggle often stems from the small differences in our “tossed salad” of culture, experience, religion, ethnicity, and race. The most effective way to find peace with our contradictions and complexities is to share, listen, and be grounded in a commitment to finding the humanity, value, and beauty in one another.
Q: Any last comments?
I have grown from and cherished my experience with Iowa International Center. Thank you for all of the opportunities you have offered me to learn from people of other lands and cultures.