The Power of Arts and Exchange – A Virtual Reunion

On June 29, 2021, Global Ties Sacramento hosted Women Writing Together for Social Justice: The Power of Art and Exchange, a reunion between Sacramento-based Women’s Wisdom Art and the Ugandan Women Writers Association: FEMRITE. Members of Women’s Wisdom Art and FEMRITE reconnected with us virtually to share their international exchange experience and discuss their latest joint project: a cross-cultural anthology of women’s stories. Written and illustrated by 60 women writers (30 from the United States and 30 from Uganda), the writers hope that the book will inspire and encourage women around the world to use writing and art to influence social change. Each woman is writing about the experiences of her Ugandan or American counterpart, and using the narratives to tackle important issues, such as female genital mutilation and gang violence. The amazing work done by Women’s Wisdom Art and FEMRITE has given these writers— and eventually their readers— the opportunity to heal from trauma, create lasting bonds, and illuminate women’s voices. If you missed the event, click here to watch the recording.

Thanks to everyone who attended, and to the writers for sharing their time to give us a sneak peek into some of the stories. We look forward to the finished product! Special thanks go to our featured speakers:

  • Hilda Twongyeirwe, Executive Director, FEMRITE
  • Ms. Fortunate Tusasirwe, Programs Officer, FEMRITE
  • Ali Lichtenstein, Board Chair, Women’s Wisdom Art
  • Vicky Boyd, Vice-Chair, Women’s Wisdom Art
  • Yvonne Evans, Advisory Council Member, Women’s Wisdom Art

If you are interested in becoming more involved with international exchange programs in Sacramento, please contact Kim Todd or subscribe to our mailing list.

Writing for Social Change

The International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) project, Writing for Social Change, brought women from the Ugandan Women Writers Association: FEMRITE, to the U.S. to meet with American c to examine the use of the written word to raise awareness of gender issues, empower women, and promote inclusion. While in Sacramento, the visitors met with representatives from Women’s Wisdom Art, a non-profit organization that improves women’s lives and advocates for equity and justice through art, writing, and wellness.

During this exchange, the women discussed the importance of using the creative arts to raise awareness of gender issues, influence social justice action, build confidence, and empower women. Both organizations provide a creative space for women to find their strength, gain confidence, and heal from trauma in their local communities, and were excited to share experiences. It was obvious from the first hello that a solid connection had been made and this IVLP meeting in Sacramento would not be the only time these women would interact. True friendships and a lasting partnership were formed.

Since 2019, Ali Lichtenstein, Board Chair of Women’s Wisdom Art, and Hilda Twongyeirwe, Executive Director of FEMRITE, have remained in almost constant contact. They are currently collaborating on a project with 60 women, 30 each from Uganda and the U.S., to inspire and encourage women around the world to use writing and art to influence social change.

2019 IVLP Meeting with Ugandan Visitors at Women’s Wisdom Art in Sacramento

Diplomacy in Action

The disheartening and tragic events of January 6, 2021, illuminated the fact that democracy is fragile, even here in the United States. Our country has long been a model that so many countries around the world aspire to emulate: the strength of our constitution, separate but equal branches of government, our free and fair elections are a few examples of the valued institutions that have withstood the test of time.

We, and many throughout the world, are grateful that our democratic institutions were strong enough to withstand a sustained onslaught of misinformation campaigns and a violent uprising. Our government remains intact and a peaceful transition of power is underway. Yet, this event did highlight an important point: democracy is a system that requires work, attention, the engagement of an informed citizenry, as well as transparency and accountability. “We the people” rings hollow without representation by and accountability to a nation’s citizens.

Through the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program, the World Trade Center Northern California has hosted countless international delegations for open discussions about our democratic institutions, governance, and the importance of civic engagement. Located in Sacramento, the seat of state government, our organization is uniquely qualified to arrange professional meetings between visitors and federal, state, and local officials, educators, students, and activists. Our aim is to strengthen diplomatic ties and provide insight into policies and practices that can be replicated on a global scale.

The Gold Rush region is aptly home to a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and hospitality for our international visitors. Representatives from state agencies graciously meet to discuss their roles in preventing campaign fraud and government waste. Local election boards conduct tours of their facilities to showcase transparency in the elections process, from sorting and counting ballots to confirming voter registration. Community organizers share information about the various programs that engage young people in the civic process, creating life-long voters and empowering the leaders and bridge-builders of tomorrow.

Reflecting on these types of exchanges illustrates the strength of our systems and the extensive number of checks and balances we have in the U.S. They solidify to our international partners, and to our own citizens, that democracy is at work every day. While the politicians at a state or federal house may receive the most attention, it is the people who are the most important part of the process – the coordinators and volunteers at a polling location, the community organizers registering new voters, the auditors examining campaign expense reports, young people learning how to amplify their voices to impact policy change – this is democracy in action.

Democracy requires transparency and accountability to the people and engagement by the people, and achieving true democracy is a work-in-progress. We are honored to be part of that important work and to share our experiences with the world.

Learn more about our international exchange programs.

Emergency Planners from Italy Learn about Wildfire Response

The California Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) hosted a delegation of Italian government and emergency management professionals at the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) headquarters in Sacramento in November 2019, turning a chance conversation at a bus stop into a very successful international event. Read more