WorldChicago is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting citizen diplomacy through programs that connect the Chicago community with the world. WorldChicago facilitates collaboration between people from all walks of life to advance national security, economic development and social justice.
Imagine a world where inner-city teens become the intercultural peace-builders of tomorrow. Imagine a world where Chicago entrepreneurs learn how to compete in the global marketplace – by mentoring and learning from rural entrepreneurs in villages across the globe. Imagine a world where every man, woman, and child identifies as a global citizen, dedicated to promoting social justice and empowerment of the disenfranchised, both here in Chicago and around the world. This is the world of citizen diplomacy.
“In an era of bluster and bombs, citizen diplomacy is a builder of bridges.” – Madeline Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State
Founded as the Hospitality Center of Greater Chicago in 1952, then later the International Visitors Center of Chicago, we became WorldChicago in 2010.
WorldChicago visitors explore their fields of interest through meetings with our extensive network of Chicago-area citizen diplomats, who are leading voices in the public, private, nonprofit, and tech sectors. Recent exchanges have centered on topics such as green technology and climate change, public health, government accountability, combating domestic violence, and preservation of cultural heritage.
Our international visitors also participate in volunteer activities that help enhance and improve the Chicago community, often working alongside American peers. Visitors have volunteered with organizations such as the Alliance for the Great Lakes, Girls in the Game, The Plant, Working Bikes, and the YMCA.
More than 20% of our visitors reside with host families during their stay in Chicago. This is often the highlight of our visitors’ time in Chicago, forging deeper connections and more meaningful cross-cultural exchange. WorldChicago also organizes dinners and social outings for our visitors to engage with Chicago’s diverse, globally-minded citizens.
WorldChicago is an affiliate of Global Ties U.S., a nonprofit membership association with more than fifty years of leadership in citizen diplomacy. Together with more than ninety community partner members and the U.S. Department of State Citizen Diplomacy programs, WorldChicago helps shape international relations “one handshake at a time.”
Learn how you can Get Involved!
Watch WorldChicago staff, Board members, hosts, and members describe what citizen diplomacy means to them.
Secretary John Kerry describes the 75-year history and importance of the citizen diplomacy exchange programs of the U.S. Department of State. Since 1940, the State Department has enabled almost a million people to participate in exchanges that make the world grow a little bit closer and help us understand each other better.
“If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world, and that his heart is no island cut off from other lands, but a continent that joins to them.” — Francis Bacon, Philosopher, Essayist