Behind the Scenes: Virtual Programming
The International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) has transformed this past year and a half but it has not changed its ultimate goal: creating long-term relationships between local professionals and their counterparts around the world. The beauty of virtual programming has been witnessing the powerful exchanges that can still happen even in the “virtual” space.
You can’t compare virtual programs to in-person exchanges; shaking hands and networking in person is not the same as seeing a small picture of someone in the Zoom world. However, virtual exchanges have provided us with another avenue to connect with people from around the world; an opportunity that might not have been possible at such a great scale if we were still coordinating in-person exchanges. So what does it take to coordinate virtual programs? Here are a few comments from our programming team:
Tamara Garcia, Director of IVLP Operations: “In one word: enthusiasm. We know that most of the visitors would have much rather visited Miami in person and experienced the city and its people themselves. As both the meeting coordinator and facilitator, we know that we don’t quite have the knowledge that our community partners have to offer in these meetings either. Instead, we try to bring enthusiasm to the meetings by making sure that each meeting is a conversation, rather than just a lecture. We always set the stage for the meetings with our short Miami video “tours” and welcome them to visit us in person in the future. This way, we ensure that the virtual sessions don’t simply end with closing out the Zoom tab; it is an ongoing experience that goes across borders.
Alexandra Ruiz, Program Manager: “Programming for virtual exchanges can sometimes feel like more “busy” work than in-person programming. There are a few more “to do’s” to complete before hosting our visitors such as working with technology, interpretation functions, creating the run of shows, and more. We miss seeing our visitors in person. What I love about virtual programming is how involved we can be in the sessions. We have the opportunity to facilitate these discussions. For in-person exchanges, the CBM is not as involved in the actual sessions but virtual exchanges are way more hands-on. We have the opportunity to connect with our visitors and learn more about how wonderful our local partners really are!”
Lauren Eskra, Summer Programming Intern: “Because I’m a summer intern I have never actually experienced in-person programming. That feels lucky in a way because I’m not comparing what we’re doing now to what we were doing beforehand. In my opinion, what’s most important for planning these online programs is being friendly and open. Sometimes a speaker who agreed to present in a program can’t make it, so we need to find a new presenter quickly, for example. The Global Ties Miami team is always so flexible and upbeat that we can adapt to any changes that come up!”