May 5, 2020
Dear members and friends of the World Affairs Council,
Recently Governor Jay Inslee extended the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order to May 31. The staff of the World Affairs Council has been working remotely for nearly nine weeks now and will continue to do so for at least four more weeks. We want to get back in the office and see each other – and all of you – again as soon as feasible but public health and safety remains our primary concern and absolute responsibility.
For those of you who wonder when we will be able to bring the world back to Seattle – the answer is we just don’t know when it will be safe to do so. The last time we were able to welcome an international delegation to Seattle was March 9, a terrific group of policy experts from Kazakhstan. We do not expect the State Department to restart IVLP programs until August at the earliest. For those of you that joined the home hospitality happy hour – thank you! We’ll do it again. And if you missed it, keep an eye out for the next invitation as well as opportunities to connect with international visitors virtually!
We have not been able to hold an in-person workshop for our teachers since late January when we partnered with the Gates Foundation for a program on empowering refugee students. But we are about to announce the outcome of our annual World Citizen Essay Contest and will move the celebration of our student winners to a virtual program. I’ve read through all of the finalists’ essays and they are extraordinary. We’ll also feature the winning essays on our website.
Our last regular community program discussion was March 3, where we looked at the future of trade. It is probably no surprise to learn here that I have decided to cancel all in-person community programs through the end of our program year in late June. Many of you have attended our virtual programming and I look forward to seeing the hellos as you all check in using the Q&A feature. I’ve also been so grateful to those of you who have donated the equivalent ticket price – and in many cases much more – when you register for our virtual programs, which remain free for members. We have an incredibly rich offering of discussions coming up, including a panel with Chinese and American public health experts on May 20; a conversation on the global health security agenda with Amb. (ret.) Bonnie Jenkins on May 22; a look at the future of globalization with Ted Alden on May 27; Amb. (ret.) Nicholas Burns on global leadership during the pandemic on June 4; as well as former NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer later in June. And more events are coming! Please check our events page for more information on these programs.
So while we have not let the pandemic prevent us from bringing you the world virtually, it will be a while before we can bring the world to you in person, whether by welcoming State Department-sponsored international visitors or bringing policy- and thought-leaders to the community for dialogue and discussion. And on National Teacher Appreciation Day, we miss being able to celebrate the amazing teachers who have transitioned to distance learning and kept our kids, including my three, engaged and connected during an unprecedented disruption. So thank you to all the educators who have made it look so easy for so long. We now know it is anything but.
And on Giving Tuesday, we know that there are so many organizations that are in need of your support. If you have the capacity, please consider donating to the World Affairs Council. With COVID-19 forcing a suspension of all of our in-person programs and immediately reducing our income, we need your support now more than ever. You can truly make a difference!
Jacqueline Miller, President and CEO
World Affairs Council