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The Wisconsin National Guard recently hosted officials from Europe, Asia, South America and the Vatican as part of the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program, administered through its Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The program aims to provide a deeper and more detailed understanding of the U.S. foreign policy-making process, examine how U.S. foreign policy intersects with its national security interests, study domestic issues which influence U.S. foreign policy decisions, and examine the range of perspectives public and private sector policy stakeholders bring to the foreign policy debate.

Senior Wisconsin National Guard officials explained the origin and current state and federal role of the National Guard in the United States, how the National Guard relates to its communities, and how the Wisconsin National Guard is organized along with its economic impact in Wisconsin. They also discussed the Wisconsin National Guard’s homeland security role and its developing role in cyber security, its state partnership program involvement, and education initiatives such as the Wisconsin National Guard Challenge Academy and the STARBASE program in Milwaukee that emphasizes math, science, engineering and technology skills.

“It was a pleasure to host our distinguished guests from the International Visitor Leadership Program,” said Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin adjutant general. “Building partnerships is part of our job, and it was an honor to share our best practices with them, especially related to domestic operations and civil military partnerships.”

The international visitors expressed interest in learning American perspectives on regional and global affairs, how U.S. foreign policy is shaped and how different organizations and policy parties take part in that process, diversity in the United States — particularly ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity — and how citizens of different backgrounds can actively engage the government, human rights, and environmental protection efforts.

Visitors included Alejandra Quesada Gomez, a Citizen Action Party advisor for the Costa Rican legislative assembly; Eleni Chrysostomou, spokesperson for the Cyprus Green Party; Ayesha Ariana Wolasmal, a policy advisor from Norway; Jaroslaw Grzegorz Cwiek-Karpowicz, head of the Research and Analysis Office for the Polish Institute of International Affairs; Aleksandr Yevgenyevich Artemev, deputy political desk editor for RosBusinessConsulting; Satendra Maithri, a member of the United National Party of Sri Lanka; and Florian Kolfhaus, secretary of Apostolic Nunciature, Second Class, Vatican Secretariat of State.