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Friendship Families Build International Connections

A fun and inspiring way to support the mission of NCWA while building a network of international connections is participation in our Friendship Families program.

Council members volunteer to offer their time and social resources to host international scholars and leaders who visit Southwest Florida to study, teach and participate in programs sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Florida Gulf Coast University and other established organizations.

Fulbright scholars at brunch with Mickey and Mo
Winograd and their house guest are Judit Alejandrina
Casillo Lopez of Guatemala, left; Anna Khairetdinova
of Russia, second from left; Dinesh Kumar of India, 
second from right; and Richen Angmo of India, right.

Recently, our members connected with 23 teachers from 20 countries who co-taught in two Lee
County high schools for six weeks. They visited our area under the Fulbright Teaching Excellence
and Achievement (TEA) program, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State. FGCU is one of four
U.S. universities selected as an official host. Dr. Ally Zhou, a professor of education at FGCU, is
project director.

Serving as Friendship Families, our members hosted small dinners in their homes, took their guests
to the movies, the beach, the Baker Art Museum, Shy Wolf Sanctuary and swamp buggy rides,
watched sunsets over the Gulf, fed them barbecue and tacos, and watched TV together. The activities that are shared is less important than that they offer their guests a taste of American culture and a friendly experience with Americans. Some relationships made in the program are ongoing. Some are not. But all come away saying they are the richer for the experience. 

The program provided the teachers with an opportunity to develop greater expertise in
their subject area
s, enhance their teaching
skills and increase their knowledge of the
U.S. They taught at Dunbar High Sch
and Estero High School.

The visiting scholars were from Argentina, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Colombia, Cote
D'Ivoire, Croatia, Egypt, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Iraq, Kenya, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nigeria, 
Russia, Sri Lanka, Uruguay,
Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

Rinchen Angmo teaches a senior class at Estero
High School about the impact of malaria in India.

Next July, the Mandela Washington Fellows Program for Young African Leaders will bring another 25 leaders 25-35 years old to the FGCU campus for leadership training for six weeks. A photo from last summer's Mandela Washington Fellows Program is below.

NCWA Board member Francisco Figueroa, right, and his wife, Edde, second from left, took two young African leaders to the beach in the summer of 2023.

For more information on how to participate in the Friendship Families initiative, please contact coordinator Judi Palay at or a NCWA Board of Directors member.

What We Do: Our Mission

We educate, inspire and engage our community in international affairs and global issues.

Naples Council on World Affairs

3250 Bonita Beach Rd. #205, Bonita Springs, FL 34134 | 239-649-3942

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