It’s hard to turn on the news nowadays without some mention of immigration. Often, the coverage is focused on many of the negative aspects and challenges that our country faces. However, there is no denying that, but for a select few, we are a nation of immigrants. Immigrants have and likely always will play an important part in our continued progression of our nation.
Catherine Tran, Director of Development for the Iowa International Center was the guest speaker at a recent meeting of the Rotary Club of West Polk County. The organization she serves has been around a long time. Originally formed as the Iowa Council for International Understanding, the Iowa International Center, its many volunteers, leadership, and staff still believe that the Center should be dedicated to international understanding between Iowans and the rest of the world.
Ms. Tran explained how their organization is assisting immigrants who have settled in Iowa become acclimated and successful to, what is to them, a foreign place. One of the largest barriers to success is the often language barriers. Immigrants come to the United States from all over the world. Last year, the Center had immigrants from 25 different countries represented in their various programs. So, one of the greatest services they offer is that of interpretation and/or translation between the immigrants and others (i.e. employers, government personnel, landlords, etc.). They also organize English courses to help immigrants learn basic English.
The Center also hosts groups of international visitors through a partnership with the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). The Iowa International Center serves as a facilitator during the visitor’s stay in Des Moines, coordinating professional meetings with delegate’s 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.
The Rotary Club of West Polk County would like to publicly thank Catherine Tran for presenting to our organization and sharing the good work that the Iowa International Center is doing to serve immigrants to central Iowa and our community through the services and education that they provide. Learn more about their organization by visiting their website at https://iowainternationalcenter.org/.