Over the last 45 years, the number of people worldwide living outside their country of origin has almost tripled to over 230 million. The United States has the largest number of diaspora members of any country in the world at over 40 million. Virtually all Americans have immigrant roots, and these roots are a quintessential part of our national narrative.
At the State Department, we believe that diaspora communities have the potential to be a powerful partner for an engaged government. Today in Washington, D.C., Secretary John Kerry kicked off Global Diaspora Week (GDW), a week-long celebration of diaspora communities and their contributions to global development and diplomacy. From October 11 to 17, GDW will be marked with more than 85 events in more than 20 countries around the world. These events are self-driven and self-organized by diaspora individuals and communities, and spotlight the organizations, initiatives, and issues they feel are important.
GDW aims to create awareness, enable collaboration, and enhance learning amongst those working with diaspora communities. GDW includes events range from in-person convenings, like the African Diaspora Summit in the United Kingdom, to virtual webinars, such as an online chat session on catalyzing the growth of crowdfunding to transform lives in the Caribbean.
Some GDW events celebrate the arts and cultural connections that define diaspora as well as identify and promote a greater appreciation for diversity. The 6th Annual Silicon Valley African Film Festival is one example that will showcase 40 films from 17 African countries, along with live performances and discussions with African filmmakers.
GDW also emphasizes volunteerism as a way for diaspora members to give back. The U.S. Department of State’s MapGive initiative is hosting an online workshop on OpenStreetMap for individuals interested in contributing geographic information to support humanitarian and development initiatives.
Governments are also demonstrating their efforts to engage with and support diaspora communities around the world. The Office of the State Minister of Georgia for Diaspora Issues is one of the most active, coordinating with over 230 Georgian diaspora organizations to generate social, cultural, and economic benefits for the country. During GDW, they will host more than 20 events throughout Georgia and countries with large populations of Georgian diaspora, including a regional diaspora economic forum, a diaspora awards ceremony, a charity painting auction, and youth leadership development competition.
Over the past years, diasporas have increasingly expressed interested in supporting entrepreneurs through mentoring, access to investment, and even joint-ventures. During GDW, Connect.Jo, an association of Jordanian Professionals Abroad will convene a collaborative discussion on the impact of entrepreneurship and youth on the betterment of Jordan, while StartUpValpo will host a conversation with international entrepreneurs attracted to Chile. GDW will also highlight the ongoing efforts of diaspora organizations to build capacity and develop leadership, as well as useful tools to maintain global relationships. A Digital Diaspora +SocialGood Google+ panel will showcase how local diasporas are strengthening sister city relationships through leveraging technology and digital media.
Anyone can host or participate in a Global Diaspora Week event. Search the interactive GDW map to find and register to participate in an event, and share your diaspora story on social media with #GDW2015.
About the Authors: Connie Tzioumis serves as Senior Adviser and Melanie Bonner serves as the Partnerships Coordinator in the U.S. Secretary of State's Office of Global Partnerships.
For more information:
- See Secretary Kerry's remarks at the 2015 Global Diaspora Week Launch Event "Partnering for Global Impact."