I want to thank Jeff Bahr and compliment him for a fine article he wrote, “Human trafficking a problem both in Central America and Central U.S.,” that was published on Sept. 10. The seriousness of this subject and the need for an international approach in heeding its affects was captured well by Jeff’s interviews with the international visitors as they related what they’ve learned here in the United States and in their visit here to Grand Island.

However, a crucial detail and credit was left out of the article. The visitors were here under the auspices of the United States Department of State’s International Visitors Leadership Program partnering with Cultural Vistas and The Grand Island Area Council for International Visitors (CIV).

The CIV is a 100% volunteer organization where hundreds of detailed hours are spent making hotel and transportation arrangements, collaborating with city and county government agencies, working with local businesses, farmers and families welcoming our international visitors in their homes for dinner. We put together all the fine details that attribute to a well balanced and comprehensive program of a multitude of interests.

When I moved here 26 years ago the warmth and friendliness of the people here in Grand Island was something I had never experienced elsewhere in this country. Today our international visitors continue to say the same thing, often citing that we became their favorite stop among their multi-city visits here in the U.S. When we approach people and agencies we are met with that same warmth and friendliness with a willingness to serve future leaders today.

I want to thank everyone who made this particular program great and I have the confidence that we will continue to welcome the world to the Heartland one handshake at a time. I am proud of our CIV and being a Grand Islander.

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