Good morning, Friend!

Have you met Aurna, our global education coordinator? Aurna is from Bangladesh, home of International Mother Language Day, which has been observed around the world since its approval at the 1999 UNESCO General Conference. The spirit of the day is to explore the value and opportunities offered by linguistic diversity.

Next week, the IRC is pleased to mark International Mother Language Day with a Monday panel discussion – “Is English the World’s Language?” – and a Tuesday International Film Club discussion of the documentary, The Linguists. Language is a central component of identity and expression, and certainly a critical tool for our work at the IRC.

Do join us as you’re able, and invite a friend to one of these or another upcoming IRC program they might enjoy. You have a place at this table.

Kind regards,

Matthew Hughes, Executive Director • 816-897-6474

International News
The Latest from Around the Globe

Olympic Update: Erin Jackson brings home gold, first Black woman to win speed skating medal at the Winter Olympics
A 29-year-old Florida native and lifelong rollerblader became the first Black woman to win Team USA a gold medal in speed skating Sunday. Erin Jackson earned her first Olympic medal in the women’s 500- meter speed skating race at the Beijing Games, an event Team USA has not won since 1994. Jackson finished her lap in a mere 37.04 seconds.
Story from NBC News.

Russia says it pulls back some troops, Ukraine and West want proof
Russia said on Tuesday some of its troops were returning to base after exercises near Ukraine and mocked Western warnings about a looming invasion, but NATO and the United States said they had yet to see any evidence of a de-escalation that could avert war.
Story from Reuters.

Fishing boat sinks off Canada; 7 crew members dead, 14 missing, 3 survivors found “in a state of hypothermic shock”
At least seven fishermen died and another 14 were missing after a Spanish trawler sank in rough seas off eastern Canada on Tuesday, Spanish and Canadian officials said. “We have now recovered seven deceased individuals and three survivors,” Brian Owens of Canada’s Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) told AFP. There were 24 crew members on board the vessel when it went down some 250 nautical miles east of Newfoundland, with rescuers still searching for the remaining 14 crew despite difficult weather conditions, he said.
Story from CBS News.

Get Involved
Join a Roundtable

Perhaps you’ve lived in another part of the world, worked there, studied there, traveled there, or just have a general fascination. IRC members are warmly invited to join one or more IRC Roundtables – a chance to connect with other members, talk about current events in regions of interest to them, and help inform IRC programming. Roundtable members will be invited to a quarterly meeting and receive IRC event information and other updates relevant to the regions they select.

Roundtables are open to all members of the IRC, including individual/family members and individuals affiliated with IRC organizational members, like businesses, colleges/universities, and nonprofits. Roundtable membership is included in your IRC membership. Be as involved as your schedule allows, without worrying about whether you can make a meeting or meet a deadline. The point is to connect, explore, and engage. Click here to learn more.

If you’re not yet a member, or if you’re unsure, no problem – join here, or reach out!

Sign Up
Upcoming Events

Is English the World’s Language? • Monday, February 21
An initiative of Bangladesh, International Mother Language Day has been observed around the world since its approval at the 1999 UNESCO General Conference. The spirit of the day is to explore the value and opportunities offered by linguistic diversity. To mark the occasion, the International Relations Council will explore the perception and prevalence of English around the world and the impact this has on other languages. A panel of experts for whom language is a central part of their daily work will offer their perspectives, and we invite audience members to chime in with their own experiences. Click here to register.

Academic WorldQuest News & Views Series • Now Through March 3
As part of the IRC’s News & Views Discussion Group, the AWQ mini-series will bring local high school students and their teachers into the international conversation. For each edition, based around 5 of the categories included in the upcoming Academic WorldQuest global knowledge competition, an expert discussion leader will lead all participants – students, IRC members, and members of the public, to study and think critically about each international topic.

International Film Club: The Linguists • Tuesday, February 22
In this documentary, director Seth Kramer follows a pair of language scholars as they journey through rugged lands in order to find isolated civilizations and hear rare tongues. The linguists, who speak a combined two dozen languages themselves, go to Siberia to listen to a language that will most likely disappear in the next few decades. They trek to India to explore how English colonists altered the nation’s culture, and they also visit the American Southwest to talk with Native Americans. Click here to register.

What’s Happening Series • Beginning March 1
With so much going on right now, it’s easy to lose track of what’s happening around the world, especially in places that have fallen out of the headlines or where news stories are increasingly complicated. We can’t predict the future, but we do know the importance of understanding historical background and current global context. No matter your level of expertise, the International Relations Council invites you to join our engaged community and area experts for meaningful explorations on some particularly active parts of the globe. Deepen your global knowledge and nuance your understanding of what’s happening around the world. Click here to learn more.

A Novel Experience: Convenience Store Woman • Wednesday, March 23
Convenience Store Woman is the heartwarming and surprising story of thirty-six-year-old Tokyo resident Keiko Furukura. Keiko has never fit in, neither in her family, nor in school, but when at the age of eighteen she begins working at the Hiiromachi branch of “Smile Mart,” she finds peace and purpose in her life. In the store, unlike anywhere else, she understands the rules of social interaction ? many are laid out line by line in the store’s manual ? and she does her best to copy the dress, mannerisms, and speech of her colleagues, playing the part of a “normal” person excellently, more or less. Managers come and go, but Keiko stays at the store for eighteen years. It’s almost hard to tell where the store ends and she begins. Keiko is very happy, but the people close to her, from her family to her coworkers, increasingly pressure her to find a husband, and to start a proper career, prompting her to take desperate action… A brilliant depiction of an unusual psyche and a world hidden from view, Convenience Store Woman is an ironic and sharp-eyed look at contemporary work culture and the pressures to conform, as well as a charming and completely fresh portrait of an unforgettable heroine. Click here to register.

IRC Community
Member News
  • Sponsored by IRC Organizational Member Johnson County Community College’s International Education Department, click here to learn more about the Explore the World: Spring 2022 Global Speaker Series. Listen online as speakers discuss countries they’re intrigued by and why people need to know more about them. All events are virtual, free and open to the public. Recordings will be available after every event.
  • IRC organizational member Jewish Vocational Service is hiring interpreters for these languages: Somali, French, Karen, Pashto, and Dari. Please contact Catherine Anderson at to apply!
  • Mark Wilcox, an IRC member, is associate professor at the U.S. Army Command & General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. He was recently featured in a The Kansas City Star discussion regarding the United States’ involvement in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Click here to watch the interview.
  • On February 24, the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies at KU, an IRC Organizational Member, will present a book talk on Russia’s Entangled Embrace: The Tsarist Empire and the Armenians, 1801-1914. Click here for more information.

Do you have news you’d like to share? Send us an email!

International Quiz
Countries of the World Quiz

Quick Hits
From Our Friends
  • In honor of Black History Month, on February 23 Sister Cities International will discuss the legacy and importance of African and African Americans’ contributions to International Citizen Diplomacy and Foreign Policy.  Click here for learn more.
  • No Divide KC will present an online bilingual poetry workshop by Waleska Font, which focuses on the simultaneous approach to poetry translations, Spanglish poetry, and bilingual creative writing. Students will explore and dissect Spanish, English and Spanglish poetry, which will provide them with a wide perspective of how words behave in each context. Click here for more information.
  • On February 22, Embassy Row Live! will feature Dr. Asad Majeed Khan, Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States, in conversation with WACA President and CEO Bill Clifford. Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan will consider U.S.-Pakistan relations, diplomacy with Afghanistan, women’s rights, climate change, and more. Click here for more information.
  • On Wednesday, February 16, The Ship in Kansas City will present Alaturka. Alaturka creates an equal “auditory handshake” between two musical cultures, American jazz and Turkish classical music. Click here for tickets.

A World of Art

Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares | Live on KEXP

The Bulgarian State Television Female Vocal Choir is an internationally renowned world music ensemble that performs modern arrangements of traditional Bulgarian folk melodies. It is most recognized for its contribution to Marcel Cellier’s Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares project.