Iowa Council for International Understanding (ICIU)

Iowa Council for International Understanding (ICIU)

The Iowa Council for International Understanding (ICIU) is a non-profit organization based in Des Moines, Iowa. ICIU’s mission is: “We build cultural respect at home and around the world one person at a time." [ICIU History| url=
title=2006 ICIU Website| publisher=ICIU| | format=html| accessdate=2006-10-08


The organization was founded in 1938 based on the work of volunteers assisting World War II refugees. During the 1940s, the organization sponsored educational visits for Panamanian students.

The organization joined the National Council for International Visitors in the 1970s, placing it for the first time in a national network of agencies to receive and schedule international visitors from the United States Information Agency. Over 4,000 international guests have visited Iowa through this program.

The organization's current name, the Iowa Council for International Understanding, was adopted in 1992. [ ICIU History]

Current operations

Global Village

Held at the Des Moines Blank Park Zoo, this event features displays, food, art, crafts, and music from around the world. The event highlights ethnic cultures considered to be traditional to Iowa and the more recent immigrants who have settled in the state. [ ICIU Press Release]

Iowa International Fellows Program

The Iowa International Fellows Program is a leadership training program for post-secondary school students. Each year, the program involves more than 80 selected international and U.S. students from Iowa's colleges and universities. The Iowa International Fellows Program is a joint effort of ICIU and The Stanley Foundation.

The Iowa Student Global Leadership Conference

The Iowa Student Global Leadership Conference (ISGLC) is an annual conference that brings together 200 Iowa youth and international exchange students studying in Iowa high schools for a leadership institute in Des Moines. The focus of the conference is to examine key global issues that will have an impact on the world in the future. Participating Iowa students work in partnership with international students to recommend actions and solutions for the future, and to discuss ways youth can address issues of concern in their countries. The next conference will be held in February 2007. [ Stanley Foundation Press Release]

International Issues Forums

ICIU facilitates many International Issues Forums per year, which are designed to explore the interdependent relationship between global events and local actions. This series of forums focuses on a wide variety of international and cultural issues ranging from world hunger and human rights to world peace and cultural diversity. A majority of the forums are sponsored by local businesses and/or organizations, and attended by the local media and hundreds of community members.

Passport to Prosperity: A Celebration of Iowa's Immigrants and Refugees

Each September since 2001 ICIU has hosted this event to honor people who were born outside of the United States and made outstanding contributions to the community after settling in Iowa. The food and entertainment provided at the dinner and awards ceremony reflect the countries of origin of the honorees.

Translation services

The Iowa Council for International Understanding has been providing interpretation and translation services in the state of Iowa for over thirty years. With over 100 interpreters and translators in more than 40 languages and dialects, ICIU works with companies, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and individuals.

The World Experience

In this experiential learning program, middle school students study differences between various countries and cultures. Students form into teams to study an assigned country and create display materials about it, then participate in a simulation activity where they play the roles of hosts and travelers and “tour the world in a day.”

Partnerships with the Federal Government

Community Connections

The Community Connections Program, managed by the Bureau for Europe and Eurasia at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and administered by World Learning, is designed to promote public diplomacy through the exchange of cultural ideas and values among participants, U.S. families and local community host organizations. It seeks to establish and strengthen links between U.S. communities and communities in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

For the first Community Connections Program of FY 2006-2007, ICIU was chosen to host 11 citizens from Azerbaijan to learn about American agriculture.

International Visitor Leadership Program (ILVP)

The International Visitor Leadership Program is an international exchange program that seeks to promote public diplomacy through programs that reflect visitors’ professional interests.

ICIU is one of approximately 95 CIVs in the U.S. participating in the International Visitor Leadership Program. ICIU’s most popular visitor programs include agricultural-related issues, the media, judicial affairs and education.

Frequent partners

*John Deere
*The Stanley Foundation
*Drake University
*Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.


* (Accessed November, 8 2006)

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