Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council shares cultural experiences

Through education and exchange programs, in addition to efforts to engage the public in cultural events, The Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council works to make region to be a successful global leader.

“We always say it starts with a handshake and an exchange of ideas to open up a really good relationship for people,” says Katie Krafka, GCWAC manager of operations and education programs. “So the more other people know and the more that Cincinnati is global, the more we can function as an international city someday.” 

The organization has broadened its reach over the past few years, Krafka says, as it only reached about 500 students in 2011. But in 2012, it reached out to more than 2,000 students. 

In 2012, the organization launched Global Classrooms, in which international students living in the city went to elementary school classrooms to share their cultures with others. 

“It’s more than geography, government, religion—we go in with coloring pages, music, food—and we talk about other cultures,” Krafka says. “It’s really impactful because students can relate to another student.”

Though Global Classrooms is aimed at a younger audience, the GCWAC reaches out to all age levels, including adults. But its most unique program, Krafka says, is Model APEC, which is similar to Model UN, but focuses instead on Asian Pacific countries. 

“No other Council does this in the country,” Krafka says. “It’s when student teams claim a country, and they research a topic like water rights, land use, trading or security, and they get together with other claimed economies in other schools and they debate and pass resolutions.” 

Krafka says the nonprofit’s vision is for everyone in the region to have at least one international experience in their lifetime, whether it’s through an educational program or discussion, eating international food or gaining an international relationship by hosting a visitor.

“We want every person to have a global mindset of some sort and be able to think more critically about the world around them,” Krafka says. “Once people meet someone from a different country and they can relate to them, speak to them, get to know them just a little bit, it breaks down these stereotypes and different walls we might not even know we have built up, so when you hear about things happening in other countries, you feel a lot more connected and sympathetic.” 

Do Good: 

• Like the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council on Facebook, and keep up with upcoming events.  

• Support the GCWAC, and donate. 

• Contact the GCWAC and volunteer to host an international visitor for dinner or a short visit. 

By Brittany York

Brittany York 
is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


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