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University of Iowa News Release

Aug. 11, 2006

Opportunity To Dine With IWP Writers At CIVIC Fundraiser Aug. 29

Members of the community have an opportunity to dine with world-famous writers as well as hear a nationally recognized diplomat at a special fund-raising event Aug. 29. The Council for International Visitors to Iowa Cities (CIVIC) is hosting its annual fundraising dinner at Brown Deer Golf Club in Coralville starting at 5:30 p.m. Honored guests include this year's 28 new participants in the International Writing Program, representing 23 different countries as well as Sherry Mueller, (photo, left) president of the National Council for International Visitors (NCIV), of which CIVIC is a member.

Mueller's keynote address, "The Power of Citizen Diplomacy," will begin at 7 p.m. Since 1961, NCIV has promoted international understanding on a person-to-person basis. Mueller joined the NCIV staff as executive director in 1996 and has served as president since 2001. Before coming to NCIV, she worked for 18 years for the Institute of International Education. She has served as an adjunct professor at the School of International Service, American University.

CIVIC is one of approximately 97 similar organizations that host and coordinate visits by guests of the United States State Department and several other agencies for international cultural and educational exchange. CIVIC is a community organization of volunteers that serves and hosts international visitors as a means to promote international understanding on a person-to-person basis.

"CIVIC is affiliated with the UI's International Programs and plays a critical role in the University's outreach to the community and the world, but it relies primarily on the efforts of its volunteers and the contributions of its members and donors to do this important work," said Tom Baldridge, CIVIC executive director. "We have welcomed more than 1,000 international visitors to the Iowa City area in the past two decades. The Department of State's International Visitors Leadership Program has identified CIVIC as 'a jewel of Midwestern hospitality.'"

CIVIC President Kenneth Hubel said he urges the community to support this event because it is critical to combat the negative stereotypes of the United States around the world due to the war in Iraq and U.S. foreign policy. Hubel shared the example of eight directors of Russian libraries who visited last year and whose perceptions of this country underwent a profound transformation.

"Their interpreter wrote that 'they expected to see street gangs, violence and misbehaving young people ... (Instead) they saw first hand how the average citizen helps to improve life in their community ... The reality of American generosity at all levels stands in stark contrast to their initial perception that Americans are driven by their desire for personal wealth and power,'" Hubel said. "This is hands-on diplomacy that leaves memories that linger - pebbles that make ripples that spread and stir the other side of the pond."

The deadline to register is Monday, Aug. 21, and the cost to attend is $50 per person or $400 for a table of eight. For more information, or to make a reservation to be seated with a writer from a specific country, contact CIVIC at 319-335-0351 or visit http://www.uiowa.edu/~civic/specialevents.htm, which includes a listing of this year's IWP participants.

The International Writing Program (IWP) is a one-of-a-kind residency program that gathers together the writers of the world for a semester of shared reading, writing and conversation in Iowa City and surrounding communities. Founded at The University of Iowa in 1967, the IWP has brought together more than 1,000 writers from 120 countries to develop a community of writing without borders, enhancing international understanding. This year a dozen writers will participate courtesy of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and another four courtesy of the Library of Congress's Open World Leadership Center. To read the profiles of this year's IWP participants, visit: http://www.uiowa.edu/~iwp/WRIT/WRITmain.html

CIVIC is part of UI International Programs, which consists of a number of offices, centers, degree programs, academic programs, research projects and services. Organized under the associate provost and dean of international programs, these units serve to further internationalize the campus and community and promote global scholarship, research and teaching.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026, lois-gray@uiowa.edu; Program: Tom Baldridge, 319-335-0351, thomas-baldridge@uiowa.edu; Writer: Kelli Andresen

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