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U.S. State Department Diaspora Tour makes stop at NOVA-Alexandria

Panelists discuss diplomacy and development issues during 2014 Diaspora Tour at NOVA-Alexandria

Diaspora communities in the United States have a lot to offer their country of origin, especially as it relates to diplomacy and development.

That was the central theme of a panel discussion hosted by the NOVA Institute for Public Service and the U.S. Department of State on Sept. 16 at the Alexandria Campus of Northern Virginia Community College.

The state department’s visit was part of the 2014 Diaspora Tour, which is spreading its message about the importance of diaspora communities across the nation’s college campuses. Before coming to NOVA, the tour was at Dartmouth College, the University of Florida and North Carolina State University. Next month, the tour heads north to visit The Ohio State University.

Dr. Jimmie McClellan kicked-off NOVA’s event with a few words about the state of the world, including how humans are contributing to the overfishing of seas and climate change, and the need for humanity to band together and ensure its longevity.

“We have the resources to make it happen,” he said. “We can make it a better place.”

Issues raised during the panel discussion included volunteerism, philanthropy, investment and entrepreneurship, and innovation. Lourdes Tiglao, a Clay Hunt Fellow at Team Rubicon, Inc., a disaster relief organization in California, said the diaspora community in the United States played a pivotal role in improving the organization’s response to last year’s typhoon disaster in the Philippines.

In fact, members of NOVA’s Filipino-American Interest Group played their own role. The group raised money for relief efforts through a karaoke night fundraiser and bake sale. Alexander Purugganan, a NOVA-Alexandria English instructor and the group’s faculty advisor said it was wonderful to see the students so engaged. “I didn’t really do anything,” he said. “The students just jumped right in.”

Other speakers at Tuesday’s event included Semhar Araia, founder and executive director of the Diaspora African Women’s Network and Sara Gallagher, IdEA program officer and Calvert Foundation strategic initiatives team member.

The panel discussion was moderated by Andrew O'Brien, special representative in the Secretary's Office of Global Partnerships. The event concluded with an opportunity for students to ask questions and meet with panelists.

Media Contact: Jennifer Gonzalez | 703.425.5839 | jgonzalez@nvcc.edu

Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.