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Young Asian, Middle Eastern leaders tour Madison with ISC

Published 7:33pm Friday, January 25, 2013

Young leaders from seven Asian and Middle Eastern countries are visited Madison County this week, as coordinated by the International Services Council (ISC) of Alabama.

ISC escorted the visiting dignitaries from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. On Jan. 19-24, they toured in Madison and Huntsville before proceeding to other Alabama sites, ISC Executive Director Jacquelyn Shipe said.

In their home countries, these individuals work as deputy ministers, national coordinators, project managers, development coordinators and in national executive positions. Their visit’s theme is “U.S. Political Process,” Shipe said.

The delegation attended the Madison City Council meeting on Jan. 21. “The delegation is examining tools and strategies that U.S. community leaders use to carry out their civic duties,” ISC Operations Assistant Deb Adelsperger of Madison said. They also are studying decentralized government, separation of powers and players in decision making.

Over the weekend, Mayor Troy Trulock “broke bread with the visiting leaders in a Madison residence. Mayor Trulock has been an excellent host. He recently met with a delegation from Finland,” Shipe said.

Home hospitality allows delegates “to see how Americans live. Some myths, perpetuated by the media, are dispelled. Many delegates ask about the civil rights in Alabama,” Shipe said. During this “citizen diplomacy,” both Americans and visitors may break stereotypes in a two-way street of discovery.

The delegation was intrigued by American volunteerism, “one concept that’s not global,” Shipe said.

The International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) is the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange program.

ISC was founded in 1965 when international military personnel trained at Redstone Arsenal but lacked any after-hours interaction. Huntsville Rotary Club convinced the Huntsville mayor and council and county commissioners about this need. ISC is aligned with the Department of State.

Shipe compared ISC work to diplomacy nurtured by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and staff.

In 52 years, ISC has coordinated more than 80,000 visitors, with 320 eventually leading their countries. For more information, visit or Facebook/ISC Alabama.

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