IVLP Impact Awards Alumni Discussion Series: Alumni Spotlight


Through the IVLP Impact Awards Initiative, recent alumni of the International Visitor Leadership Program administer community impact projects that bring the experiences of their exchange program home to their communities and promote innovative solutions to shared global challenges.

On Tuesday, March 12, 2024, Meridian International Center hosted a virtual panel of IVLP Impact Awardees who talked about their community impacts, inspirations, and achievements with the IVLP Impact Award over the past year. The featured panelists for this discussion were Farrukh Khojatov (Tajikistan), Agnes Mukashyaka (Rwanda) and Vlatka Jajetić (Croatia)

Some top takeaways from the program were:

1. Project Inspiration

All three panelists shared that a combination of their inspiring IVLP exchange experiences and a desire to meet the needs they identified in their communities led them to apply for the IVLP Impact Award. Farrukh's IVLP Project Adventure Tourism in the United States, was organized by CRDF Global and he mentioned visiting Michigan, Arizona and Colorado, noting that Boulder CO is the sister city to Dushanbe, in Tajikistan. His project taught the basics of entrepreneurship to college students with the long-terms goal of growing the tourism sector in Tajikistan. Vlatka participated in the IVLP Project Promoting Cybersecurity II, organized by the American Councils for International Education, which augmented her desire to implement her project teaching cybersecurity skills to children in Croatia. Agnes's IVLP Project was called Advocates for the Economic Empowerment and Social Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities and was organized by the Mississippi Consortium for International Development, and her IVLP Impact Award project continued this theme. Agress talked about being the mother of a son with disabilities, and how this experience led her to create her project focused on increasing the opportunities available to children with disabilities in Rwanda. Farrukh summed up the sentiment well when he said, “[The] US was like the inspiration, and we have put our experiences, our needs, and that was... the recipe of our project.

2. Project Support

The panelists shared about the various sources of support they received throughout their projects. Vlatka mentioned that her local US Embassy was a partner throughout and that she is "grateful for their support before, during and after the project," as embassy staff attended her events and she is planning future collaboration with them going forward. Vlatka also shared how the embassy in Zagreb served as a conduit for connecting her with fellow IVLP Impact Awardees, which Agness also touched on as another source of support. Agnes was able to partner with a fellow IVLP alumna from her exchange as a local partner in her project, while Vlatka teamed up with one of the IVLP alumni the embassy connected her with, to promote awareness of her project in the media.

Despite their busy personal, professional and project schedules, all three panelists mentioned being grateful for the opportunity to attend capacity-building trainings and networking sessions with their fellow IVLP Impact Awardees, hosted by the Meridian team. They noted that the information they received in these trainings would be beneficial beyond the scope of their IVLP Impact Award projects and would aid them in for future projects as well. Each panelist also talked about the local community members and organizations they relied on to help overcome project challenges like attracting the desired number of dedicated project participants. Agnes met with local authorities to recruit project volunteers, Farrukh reached out to the deans of his partner universities to attract student participants, and Vlatka relied on her partner organization to help recruit workshop attendees.

3. Project Impact

When asked what made their IVLP Impact Award projects successful, the panelists discussed the importance of careful research and planning that began way back in the application phase, when they looked into the expected price of the various aspects of implementing their projects. They shared how this helped mitigate budgetary challenges over the course of their projects and allowed them to focus on the communities they reached. Farrukh also touched on the scale of a successful project, saying that in his case “It's more important for ten projects to become a company [than] to give the information to 1,000 people.” 

The IVLP Impact Awards team is proud to be supporting the important and meaningful work of these three leaders and Awardees, and we hope that you will continue to follow the projects of these and our many other impressive Awardees on our web page.

“I know a lot of you who are thinking about applying for the IVLP Impact Award have a lot of questions, concerns, maybe also fears as I had. But once you see the impact on your community, it will all be worth it. So just go for it.” - Vlatka Jajetić

If you have any questions, please reach out to the IVLP Impact Awards Team at IVLPImpactAwards@meridian.org.

If interested in attending more IVLP Impact Award events, click here.

Project summary

IVLP Impact Awards Alumni Discussion Series: Alumni Spotlight | March 2024
Countries: Rwanda, Croatia, Tajikistan
Program Areas: Global Leadership