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Serving the GW Community since 1904

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Building bridges from diasporas to homelands

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Regina Park.

Diaspora organizations met Tuesday at the Elliott School of International Affairs to discuss the challenges and positive developments for people who live outside their homeland at the Global Diaspora Media Forum

The International Diaspora Engagement Alliance, a non-profit organization that helps diaspora communities give back to their homelands, sponsored the day-long forum in partnership with GW’s Center for International Business Education and Research and AudioNow, a “call-to-listen” platform.

The forum focused on the disconnect between diaspora communities and their homeland and bridging that disconnect.

Here are the top three takeaways from the event:

1. Leveraging the media

First Secretary and Consul Elmer Cato of the Philippine Embassy diaspora is a challenge by the very nature that people can be dispersed around the globe and there isn’t a central physical area to target those populations.

But that gap can be closed through media outlets and technologies to connect members of a diaspora, said Anne Bennett, the executive director of Hirondelle USA, a group that tries to facilitate peaceful democratization.

“There is an enormous potential for greater partners and investment in independent broadcasting.” Bennett said.

2. Investing at home

Some government programs help members of a country’s diaspora more effectively help their original communities.

The Mexican government’s 3×1 program, for example, match funds raised independently to help expatriates invest in their home communities, Deputy Press Secretary at the Mexican Embassy Vanessa Calva said.

“Help from the government really brings the community together and organizes them,” Calva said.

3. Progress in the future

Diasporas have existed for centuries, but new technologies and organizations are transforming the way diasporas stay connected to their homeland.

Part of that innovation lies in startups, from new, targeted media outlets to programs that connect people across a diaspora, Bennett said.

“These are vibrants startups that have huge followings.” Bennett said. “We really are just at the beginning of that.”

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