News & Press: Newsletters

Focus on Immigration & Transportation in the Weeks Ahead

Wednesday, January 9, 2019   (0 Comments)
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Dear friends,

At the IRC, a new year means a new season of Great Decisions. This year's topics include the Middle East, U.S.-China trade, and cyber conflict, and discussion groups meet around the KC metro area. You can read more about Great Decisions and order your briefing book on the IRC website », but please do take a look below at two of our newest discussion groups who are looking for members.

This Friday, January 11, is the last day to express interest in joining an IRC committee for 2019. IRC members and representatives of IRC member organizations are warmly invited to join the Education, Finance, Membership Development, or Program Committee and contribute actively to the work of the IRC. More information is available on the IRC website ». To express your interest, please send Matthew a note » with a little about you and your interest in the committee of your choice. Thanks in advance for supporting the IRC and international awareness in this meaningful way.

We're two weeks away from our first events of 2019. On Tuesday, January 22, please join the IRC Book Club for a conversation about immigration as part of their reading of We Wanted Workers. Facilitated by the IRC's new president, Jeff Bell, the discussion promises to be respectful and insightful. The next day, we'll be at the KU Edwards Campus in Overland Park for a fascinating panel presentation on megaregions and the future of transportation. Your interest and questions are most welcome at both events.

In case you've been saving the date, we've just had an update to our schedule for the 2019 Berkley Lecture with Ambassador Paula Dobriansky on national security challenges in the next decade. Due to a change in Ambassador Dobriansky's travel needs, the lecture has been moved up two days to Monday, February 25. We'll be sending more information out soon, but please do save the new date for this timely event.

Finally, we have some exciting news to share from the office. Shane Smith has joined our staff as a membership assistant. You can read more about Shane below and reach him at ». And our program coordinator, April Diaz, is about to celebrate her one-year anniversary with the IRC. We so appreciate all that April does to organize IRC events, communications, and much more. If you'd like to drop her a line » to congratulate her on this milestone, please feel free.

Thank you for your continued support of the IRC and enthusiasm for international affairs. We look forward to seeing you soon.

Kind regards,

Matthew Hughes, Executive Director
 • 816-423-2632

This week, the World Citizen Blog is a 
reflection on the top five reasons Great Decisions is great ». We welcome blog contributions from IRC members and friends. If you are interested in writing a blog post, please review some frequently asked questions », where you'll also find out how to submit your post.

The board of directors of the International Relations Council relies on active committees to develop strategies and action plans for the work of the organization. Meeting five times a year and charged with ongoing projects, committees include a variety of perspectives and are intentionally comprised of a mix of board members and IRC members who are not part of the board. Joining a committee is an excellent way to become more involved with the IRC, and we welcome the participation of new and seasoned IRC members. For more information on joining a committee, please contact Matthew Hughes, executive director, at »
, or read about committees on the IRC website »Please note that all committee members should be individual members of the IRC or be part of an IRC member organization and be prepared to commit to a year of volunteer service with the IRC.


Shane Smith recently graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in International Studies. Shane has worked with many nonprofit organizations and was an intern for the IRC in the spring of 2018. He continues to volunteer for Camp Kesem, an organization that helps children impacted by a parent’s cancer, by serving on the advisory board. Previously a Bollywood fusion dance team captain, Shane enjoys dancing and exploring other cultures. In addition to dance, he enjoys other hobbies such as reading, lifting, running, and rock climbing.

Shane will be a valuable resource for new and renewing IRC members. Feel free to reach out to him » with questions about your membership or to nominate a member to be spotlighted in the IRC's World Citizen Blog.



Though arguably the most advanced economy in the world, the United States still uses centuries-old numbers to measure trade. These antique numbers mangle understanding of the U.S.-China trade relationship, shrinking America’s true economic size and competitiveness, while swelling China’s. Bad numbers give rise to bad policies that ultimately kill U.S. jobs and cede market share to China. What other tools can the United States employ to counter China’s unfair trade practices? There are several available, yet they remain mostly unused. 

Discuss this topic and many more in a Great Decisions group ». Getting involved is easy, and we’re happy to help! Email April Diaz, IRC program coordinator, at » to get started.


We are excited to announce that there are two new Great Decisions groups in the Kansas City metro, and the groups' leaders are welcoming people to check out their group. Please feel free to reach out to the organizers and join them for their first meetings, coming up soon!

Centered Spirit Group
When: First Thursday, 6 p.m. (beginning February 7, 2019)
Where: Centered Spirit Cultural and Holistic Center » (8131 Wornall Rd, Kansas City, MO 64114)
For More Information: Contact Emilie Jackson »

Johnson County Community College
When: Every other Thursday, 2-3:30 p.m. (January 31, 2019; February 14, 2019; February 28,  2019; March 14, 2019;  March 28, 2019; April 11, 2019; April 25, 2019; and May 9, 2019)
Where: Johnson County Community College, CoLab (OCB 107)
For More Information: Contact Arne Zislin » or see the JCCC group's Great Decisions page »


Registration Open
IRC Book Club: We Wanted Workers: Unraveling the Immigrations Narrative – Tuesday, January 22 – Kauffman Foundation Conference Center
The IRC Book Club gives participants the opportunity to discuss foreign affairs, global topics, authors' perspectives, historical events, and their current local relevance in a respectful, engaging setting. Convened by seasoned Great Decisions leader Jack McLaren, the group meets every six to eight weeks to dig into a different author's work. 
Read more and register »

Registration Open
Megaregions and the Future of Transportation – 
Wednesday, January 23 – BEST Conference Center, KU Edwards Campus
As the population continues to grow, the rise of megaregions places new demands on infrastructure, food supplies, and public services, requiring innovative solutions. The transportation of a growing number of people and goods in and between dense megaregions stands out as a particularly complex issue with local implications. The proposed Missouri Hyperloop route is just one of a number of solutions that deserve attention to help us understand the realities of megaregions and what this will mean for the greater Kansas City area. This program will explore the challenges and opportunities of megaregions and the future of transportation. Audience members are encouraged to bring their questions for what promises to be a fascinating conversation. 
Read more and register »

IRC Member Benefit 
Cover to Cover: Fukuyama To Discuss Identity Politics 
– Thursday, January 24– 1-1:30 p.m. – via conference call
Demand for recognition of one’s identity is a master concept that unifies much of what is going on in world politics today. The universal recognition on which liberal democracy is based has been increasingly challenged by narrower forms of recognition based on nation, religion, sect, race, ethnicity, or gender, which have resulted in anti-immigrant populism, the upsurge of politicized Islam, the fractious “identity liberalism” of college campuses, and the emergence of white nationalism. The demand for identity cannot be transcended; we must begin to shape identity in a way that supports rather than undermines democracy. The IRC is pleased to be able to offer this opportunity as a benefit for IRC members. To check your membership status or register for the call, please contact contact Matthew ».

Registration Open
Global Experience: World Premiere Theatrical Production - Nomad Motel – Sunday, February 3 – Unicorn Theatre
The IRC's Global Experience series asks, "What's your global story? Do you get the chance to share it?" Join the IRC as we watch the World Premiere Production of Nomad Motel, the story of two high school students living in the margins of Los Angeles. One is a “Parachute Kid,” sent by his family in Hong Kong to live alone in the States to get an American education. The play explores the immigrant experience, the barriers to thriving that children experience when their housing and/or family situation is less than stable, and the surprisingly shared experiences of parachute kids and those impacted by homelessness. The play speaks to the human stories that accompany international macrotrends, such as those governing migration between east Asia and the United States, and the unique experiences and obstacles that face the school-aged youths participating in that migration. Please stick around after the play for a “talk back,” which will provide an opportunity for audience members to speak with the cast and artistic team about the production, the script, and any issues that the play might raise. Read more and register »

Registration Open
Academic WorldQuest 2019 – Saturday, February 23 – BEST Conference Center, KU Edwards campus
Join us for this fun and free event, where students, as a team, answer questions on various international topics. The tournament is open to teams of four students in grades 9-12, plus a faculty sponsor, from Kansas City-area high schools. Study materials are provided in advance. 
Read more and register »

Registration Open
Berkley Lecture with Ambassador Paula Dobriansky – Monday, February 25 – Grand Street Cafe
Join us for the 2019 Berkley lecture with Paula Jon Dobriansky, an American foreign policy expert who has served in key roles as a diplomat and policy maker in the administrations of five U.S. presidents, both Democrat and Republican. She is a specialist in the areas of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union and in political-military affairs. Details for this event will be 
posted here » as they become available. Registration will open by the end of 2018.

Save the Date
WorldQuest 2019 – Thursday, April 4 – UMKC's Pierson Auditorium
Spring will soon arrive and, with it, WorldQuest, the IRC's much-anticipated annual trivia night! Join fellow world enthusiasts on Thursday, April 4, for friendly competition and fabulous prizes – all to support a worthy cause. Your ticket covers parking, dinner, drinks, and trivia. Additional contributions (in advance or that evening) are most welcome and will support the IRC's global-education efforts. Registration will open soon »


Does your business or organization have an upcoming event that could be of interest to IRC members? To have your event considered for inclusion in future IRC newsletters, please contact Matthew Hughes »

Die Vermessung der Welt - Film », presented by Shawnee German-American Club 
Saturday, January 12 – 2-5 p.m. – Lutheran High School of Kansas City

Turkic Food Festival & Live Sufi/Turkish Music, presented by Dialgoue Institute 
Saturday, January 12 – 11 a.m-3p.m. – 4215 Shawnee Drive (Kansas City, KS)

Die Vermessung der Welt - Film », presented by Shawnee German-American Club 
Saturday, January 12  – 2-5 p.m.  – Lutheran High School of Kansas City

Know Your World Presentation: Albania & Tanzania », presented by Greater Kansas City People to People 
Sunday, January 13 – 2-4 p.m. – Church of the Resurrection Leawood

The Century of Immigration (Part of Becoming American: A Documentary Film and Discussion Series) », presented by the Kansas City Public Library
Monday, January 14 – 6:30 p.m. – KCPL Central Library

Migrant Education Program Family Engagement, presented by Shawnee Mission School District 
Wednesday, January 23 – 5:30-7 p.m. – Center for Academic Achievement

Sister City Spotlight Series: Arusha, Tanzania », presented by Sister Cities Association of KCMO
Tuesday, January 29 –  5-6:30 p.m. – Mesob Restaurant

Working Effectively Across Cultures », presented by the Asian American Chamber of Commerce
Tuesday, January 29 – 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. – Mazuma Credit Union 

UNA-GKC Annual Meeting and Dinner, presented by the United Nations Association 
Wednesday, January 30 – 6 p.m.  – Grace & Holy trinity Episcopal Cathedral

Tibetan New Year Celebration », presented by Rime Buddhist Center & Institute of Tibetan Studies 
Tuesday, February 5 – 5-8 p.m. – Rime Center

Promise and Prejudice (Part of Becoming American: A Documentary Film and Discussion Series) », presented by the Kansas City Public Library
Monday, February 11 – 6:30 p.m. – KCPL Central Library

Kansas City Japanese Film Festival »
Sunday, February 24 – 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. – Alamo Drafthouse

Between Two Worlds: Identity and Acculturation (Part of Becoming American: A Documentary Film and Discussion Series) », presented by the Kansas City Public Library
Monday, March 11 – 6:30 p.m. – KCPL Central Library

For a complete listing of events, please see the KC Community Calendar »


Public Intellectuals Program (PIP)
Generously funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York, PIP is designed to identify outstanding members of the next generation of American China scholars, enrich their understanding of policymaking processes in both the United States and China, help them establish useful relationships both within academia and with policy practitioners, and nurture their ability to engage with the public at a national, regional, and local level. The program is open to Ph.D. academics in all disciplines; a limited number of slots are available for established professionals and policymakers. Must have demonstrated expertise on China, several years of experience teaching or in a professional field, and be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.  Preference given to candidates between 30 to 45 years old, and to those living in the United States or Greater China. The application period for PIP VI closes Sunday, February 3. For questions regarding application, please email or call 212-645-9677, ext. 12.

World of 7 Billion Video Contest
Back by popular demand, the World of 7 Billion student video contest helps you bring technology and creativity into your middle and high school classes. The contest challenges students to create a short video connecting world population growth to one of three global challenges: preserving biodiversity, sustainable resource use, or human rights. Students can win cash prizes (featuring 80+ new prizes this year!), and participating teachers will receive free curriculum resources. The deadline for submissions is February 28, 2019 – use this lesson plan »to get started now! Full contest guidelines, resources for research, past winners, and more can be found here ».

Do you know of a volunteer opportunity that would allow IRC members to work with individuals from a variety of countries and cultures or that focuses on international topics or global issues? To have the opportunity considered for inclusion in the Volunteer Center or future IRC newsletters, please contact Matthew Hughes ».

These are just a sampling of international volunteer opportunities in Kansas City. Visit the Volunteer Center » for more one-time and ongoing opportunities to support international initiatives.

Global FC Seeks Volunteers for Multiple Opportunities
Global FC » exists to bridge diverse cultures to come together. Using soccer as a vehicle for transformative impact, the nonprofit supports under-served youth and families including refugees in the Kansas City area with the tools to overcome obstacles to success. They are currently seeking volunteers for numerous positions, including: coaches, assistant coaches, team managers, team mentors, mentors, drivers, tutors, as well as general volunteers. To find out more about these incredible opportunities to impact youth in life transformational ways, contact: Mariya Dostzadah Goodbrake at mariya@branch-global or Ella Munthali at

World Affairs Council of Philadelphia: Travel the World 2019
World Affairs Council of Philadelphia has been organizing Travel the World lifelong learning tours for more than 35 years. These trips offer all the highlights of touring plus access to political leaders and local experts who give behind-the-scenes views and briefings that make the trips special and unique. On many tours, experts on global politics accompany the groups. 2019 destinations include Southern Africa, Cuba, Israel, the Arctic, Mongolia, and more. Read more here ».