Good morning, Friend!

Especially during the last two years, discussion groups like News & Views, the Global Affairs Book ClubA Novel Experience, and the International Film Club have helped IRC members and friends stay connected, get to know one another, and explore a range of perspectives on international events and global issues. Whether you already have a favorite format or would like to try something new, you’ll find a range of topics in the calendar below, and we hope you’ll join us as your schedule permits.

We’ll look forward to seeing many of you this evening for the IRC Town Hall. Thank you for helping to strengthen our community’s global perspective, in Kansas City and beyond.

Kind regards,

Matthew Hughes, Executive Director • 816-897-6474

International News
The Latest from Around the Globe

Pentagon puts 8,500 troops on ‘heightened alert’ as U.S. weighs military action against Russia
The United States is discussing the deployment of American military forces to Eastern Europe with its NATO allies, a senior administration official said Monday, as President Joe Biden weighs options for responding to Russian threats against Ukraine. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 troops on “heightened alert” to assist with the defense of NATO allies, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said during a news briefing Monday. He said no deployment orders have been given.
Story from NBC News.

China sends 39 warplanes toward Taiwan, largest in new year
China flew 39 warplanes toward Taiwan in its largest such sortie of the new year, amid tensions over the self-ruled island’s future and as the U.S. pushes to assert its presence in the region. The Chinese formation Sunday night included 24 J-16 fighter jets and 10 J-10 jets, among other support and electronic warfare aircraft, according to Taiwan’s defense ministry.
Story from ABC News.

Guatemala: Indigenous women celebrate ruling on sexual violence
Survivors of Guatemala’s decades-long armed conflict have welcomed a Guatemalan court ruling that found five former paramilitary patrolmen guilty of raping and sexually abusing Indigenous women during the war. Judges Yassmin Barrios and Gelvi Sical on Monday ruled that 36 Indigenous Maya Achi women had been subjected to domestic slavery, sexual violence and rape during the 36-year conflict, which pitted the Guatemalan military against leftist forces from 1960 to 1996.
Story from Aljazeera.

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!

IRC News
Limited Great Decisions Books Remain – Place Your Order Today

2022 Great Decisions briefing books and DVDs are now available for sale on the IRC website. We appreciate your help alerting group members and others who might be interested in participating in the coming year, and we remain so thankful for all you do to support civil conversations on issues of international importance through the year.

Sign Up
Upcoming Events

IRC Town Hall • Wednesday, January 26
We’ve cherished your involvement through an unpredictable year, and now we want to hear from you. Please join us on Zoom on Wednesday, January 26, from 6-7 p.m. Central time to meet the 2022 Executive Committee, hear plans for the year, and learn about meaningful ways you can get more involved with the International Relations Council in the months ahead. Bring your questions, your feedback on programming, and your ideas for what the IRC can do in 2022 to strengthen Kansas City’s global perspective. Click here to register.

Academic WorldQuest News & Views Series • February 3 – 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 trivia 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: Happy As Lazzaro • Tuesday, February 8
Click to watch film on Netflix. This is the tale of a meeting between Lazzaro, a young peasant so good that he is often mistaken for simple-minded, and Tancredi, a young nobleman cursed by his imagination. Life in their isolated pastoral village Inviolata is dominated by the terrible Marchesa Alfonsina de Luna, the queen of cigarettes. A loyal bond is sealed when Tancredi asks Lazzaro to help him orchestrate his own kidnapping. This strange and improbable alliance is a revelation for Lazzaro. A friendship so precious that it will travel in time and transport Lazzaro in search of Tancredi. His first time in the big city, Lazzaro is like a fragment of the past lost in the modern world. Click here to register.
IRC Community
Member News
  • The “Exporter Roundtable Webinar” is scheduled for Wednesday, February 9. This webinar is focused specifically on “Logistics Challenges” and targeted at SME exporters/importers and trade service providers. Click here for more information. Presented in partnership with IRC Organizational Member Commerce Bank.
  • The Blue River campus of Metropolitan Community College, an IRC Organizational member, is getting help from several sources to help it train local residents to find work. The biggest chunk will come from the $2 million in federal dollars that Jackson County is allocating to the campus in eastern Independence for its new Blue River East facility that will house several vocational degree programs. Click here to learn more.
  • The English Speaking Union – Kansas City, an IRC Organizational Member, will be holding their Annual Meeting on Zoom on Saturday, February 5 at 12 p.m. CT. Click here for more information.
  • The performing application for the 2022 KC Fringe Festival, an IRC Organizational Member, is now open. The festival will be taking place July 17-31. Click here for more information.

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

High School Teachers and students
Academic WorldQuest

High school students are invited to put their global knowledge to the test in the annual Academic WorldQuest competition, a flagship program of the World Affairs Councils of America.

Quick Hits
From Our Friends
  • Dr. Robert Jan van Pelt, world renowned expert on Auschwitz will deliver the annual International Holocaust Remembrance Day presentation on Thursday, January 27 at 6:30 p.m. CT as part of the Auschwitz Speaker Series. Presented by the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education and Union Station Kansas City in support of the exhibition Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. Click here to register.
  • On Thursday, January 27 at 7 p.m. CT, Ambassador William Taylor, former US Ambassador to Ukraine and current Vice President of Strategic Stability and Security at the US Institute of Peace, will present Ukraine and Russia: Implications for the Future of Central Europe. Presented by the Peoria Area World Affairs Council. Click here to register.
  • On Thursday, January 27, join the Indiana Council on World Affairs to hear Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United States, as she gives her assessment of Ukraine’s long and storied past, precarious present, and aspirations for the future as a free, independent, and democratic country. Click here to register. 
  • Join the Kansas City Chinese American Association on Saturday, January 29 at 8 p.m. CT to watch their Virtual Chinese New Year celebration – full of traditional dances, performances of all sorts, and Chinese music. Click here to watch.
  • The International Trade Council honors a distinguished woman in the Kansas City international business community each year. The planning committee is currently seeking nominations. To nominate someone, please submit via email to by February 4th. Click here for more information.

A World of Art

Natalia Lafourcade: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

Mexican musician Natalia Lafourcade beautifully blends musical traditions from across Latin America into something new.