The Public Affairs Section coordinates Department of State's exchange programs that allow Polish professionals in various fields to establish contacts with their American counterparts: International Visitor Leadership Program and the Voluntary Visitor Program. The visitors can not apply for the programs but are selected, nominated and invited to participate in them by American Foreign Service Officers and must be current or potential leaders in government, politics, the media, education, labor relations, the arts, business and other fields.
The International Visitor Leadership Program includes individual and group projects. International Visitors travel to the U.S. for carefully designed programs that reflect their professional interests and U.S. foreign policy goals. They travel in a variety of thematic programs, either individually or in groups, for up to three weeks. Individual projects are tailored for the visitor's professional interests. Group projects are designed before the visitors arrive in the United States and focus on the common professional interests of the group.
In addition to individual and single country projects the Office of International Visitors also offers regional programs for participants representing different geographical regions worldwide to discuss and exchange experiences with their American counterparts and co-participants on the program around main leading theme. International Visitors Leadership Program regional projects cover such areas of interest as current U.S. foreign policy, social, political and economic issues, climate change, energy security, agricultural trade and food security, broadcast journalism, artistic management, the role of the arts in social and political commentary and many more.
All International Visitor projects are designed to present diverse experiences and discussion topics for their participants. U.S. Department of State desires participation in this program to be a lively and stimulating learning experience. The emphasis is not only on professionally-oriented meetings. It is an important aspect of the program for the visitors to gain an appreciation not only of the geographic size and variety of the U.S., but also its ethnic, cultural, and socio-economic diversity.
The International Visitor Leadership Program annually brings approximately 4,000 foreign nationals from all over the world to the United States to meet and confer with their professional counterparts and to experience American cultural and social diversity firsthand. Among the thousands of distinguished individuals who have participated in the International Visitor Leadership Program since its inception more than five decades ago are more than 200 current and former Chiefs of State, 1,500 cabinet-level ministers, and many other distinguished leaders from the public and private sectors.
On July 4, 2010, Polish voters elected International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) alumnus Bronisław Komorowski as President of Poland. President Komorowski participated in the IVLP in 2006 as then-Vice-Marshall of the Sejm. His IVLP explored U.S. foreign policy and U.S.-Polish bilateral relations.
Voluntary Visitors Program participants usually travel either as individuals or as single-country groups self-formed to examine a particular subject. Although combining some aspects of both individual and group projects for grantees, Voluntary Visitors projects are primarily designed around the participants' particular interests and with their active involvement. Suggestions provided by the visitors are sent to Washington, D.C. in advance of their departure for the U.S. and, through constant dialogue with the visitors and Public Affairs Offices overseas, are developed directly by the Voluntary Visitors programming staff, or in conjunction with cooperating programming agencies, into a complete national program.