The idea of Citizen Diplomacy aims to promote mutual understanding across cultures through people-to-people exchanges. Citizen Diplomats are volunteers who help welcome international visitors who may be experiencing the United States for the first time. At CCWA, Citizen Diplomats open up their homes to host a meal or welcome overnight visitors, or share their professional insight.

By welcoming visitors, you have the opportunity to impart Midwest hospitality among emerging leaders and students from around the world.

Sign up today to become Citizen Diplomat volunteer.

We hosted a teen from Mexico, and it was like she was the teenage daughter we never knew we had! I think this is the most rewarding part of hosting – meeting friends and family from another part of the world that you didn’t even know were missing from your life.”
— Marissa Siebert

“Our family’s lives have been enriched by the truly unique opportunity to host international guests. We would highly recommend it!”
— Fritz and Laurene Heintel

FAQ: Hosting Dinners, Homestays, and Professional Meetings

Welcome international visitors to your home for an evening of dinner and conversation with friends and family, open your home to international visitors or students for an overnight stay, or share your expertise and exchange ideas with the visitors in a professional setting.

Click on the different Citizen Diplomat opportunities below to find the right way for you to engage with our exchange programs, or contact Andrew Kovach, Program Officer, at akovach@ccwa.org, for more information about Citizen Diplomacy and CCWA’s International Exchange Programs.

Host a Dinner

Welcome international visitors to your home for an evening of dinner and conversation with friends/family.

CCWA hosts numerous professional visitor groups each year that stay in a downtown Cleveland hotel typically for 3 – 6 days. Home hosted dinners are a great way for them to get to know the hospitality and diversity of our Northeast Ohio community.

No need for an elaborate multi-course meal. Dinner does not need to be expensive and can be done as easily as you’d like. A potluck or a catered meal are also possibilities. Schedule pending, a weekend brunch or lunch may also be arranged.

The more the merrier. You’re welcome to invite family members or friends to help welcome your international guests.

Groups range from 2 – 5 visitors—an interpreter may be included, too.

Who’s coming to dinner? Background information will be provided typically one week in advance. This includes visitor name, profession, and dietary restrictions.

When do I host? Hosting opportunities may be any day of the week or weekend. After you sign up to host, you will receive monthly updates with hosting options and you can select the opportunities that work best with your schedule.

What is the time commitment? The time frame is flexible, however, 2 – 2.5 hours for dinner is typical.

Transportation. Hosts are kindly welcome to assist with transport to and from your home. CCWA can help make other arrangements, as we know this is not always feasible.

Sign me up! We ask first time hosts to fill out a Citizen Diplomat profile form here. A CCWA staff member will also briefly meet you in person at your home prior to hosting.

Welcome Visitors for Home Stay

Open your home to international visitors or students for a short or extended overnight stay (2 nights to 3 weeks).

Homestays are often the most memorable and significant experiences for visiting professionals and students.

Who will be staying? CCWA typically hosts three or four visitor groups annually requiring overnight homestays. Groups may be professional adults or high school students. Homestay host families each welcome 1-2 visitors in their home during the entire length of the program.

Where do the visitors stay? It is a requirement that visitors stay in a room with a door that can be closed. Each visitor must have their own bed. Visitors can share a room with another visitor, provided that they are of the same gender. Youth visitors can share a bedroom with a host sibling of roughly the same age, provided again that they are of the same gender and each has their own bed.

Do I live too far away? Visitors are typically placed in homes within a 35-mile radius of downtown Cleveland.

How long do visitors stay? Exchange programs can last as little as a weekend, or as long as three weeks.

Do I need to provide meals? Hosts will be asked to provide breakfast items for the guest and to include the visitor in dinner plans, as they would any other member of their household. CCWA will provide lunch during program days (Monday-Friday). On weekends, visitors will share in all meals with the family. Visitors should never be expected to pay for food.

What do the visitors do during the day? CCWA arranges a program itinerary on weekdays for visitors to engage in meetings, professional sessions, workshops, and cultural activities. CCWA will handle transportation on weekdays.

Sign me up! We ask first time hosts to fill out a Citizen Diplomat profile form here. A CCWA staff member will also briefly meet you in person at your home prior to hosting.

Host a Professional Meeting

Share your expertise, exchange ideas and provide a presentation about your work.

International visitors travel to Cleveland on a wide variety of professional topics: business and entrepreneurship; local and state government; civil society and NGO management; healthcare; tech innovations; arts and culture; youth engagement; and many others. Our exchange programs connect these visitors with their counterparts in Northeast Ohio and promote two-way exchanges during informal sessions.

Who are the visitors? Participants are specially selected by U.S. embassies and the State Department and are seen as rising leaders who will benefit from a more nuanced understanding of the U.S. They may be entrepreneurs, business leaders, academic researchers, doctors, educators, artists, nonprofit leaders, journalists, law enforcement agents, government officials, politicians, etc.

Do the visitors speak English? Many of our visitors do speak English. State Department-contracted interpreters are included on projects with non-English speaking participants.

How long do meetings last? A typical meeting is 1 – 1.5 hours.

What does a meeting look like? Meetings with visitors touch upon their professional interests while supporting U.S. foreign policy goals through public diplomacy. Sessions are informal in nature and may simply start with a 10 minute overview of the organization and the specific focus of the meeting, provided by CCWA. A long presentation or PowerPoint is not required. Most of the meeting time can be reserved for dialogue and Q&A. In the spirit of exchange, we also encourage speakers to ask visitors about their work and experiences back home.

Where are meetings held? Ground transportation is arranged and we are happy to come to you. CCWA is also able to host the meeting at our office downtown (coffee included!).

Sign me up! If you’re interested in getting involved as a professional resource, please contact Program Officer Andrew Kovach at akovach@ccwa.org for more information.

Become a Volunteer Driver

Assist with home hospitality dinners by offering to transport international visitors to and from their host home. Stay and share a meal with visitors and meet their Citizen Diplomat hosts, who are similarly interested in fostering global exchange!

Sign me up! We ask first time hosts to fill out a Citizen Diplomat profile form here.

The Power of Citizen Diplomacy

Engaging in Citizen Diplomacy is a powerful experience for the visitors and the local Citizen Diplomats alike. Read below about the power of Citizen Diplomacy and get inspired for your own life changing experience as a CCWA Citizen Diplomat!

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