WorldChicago facilitates professional and personal interactions for international leaders during official visits to Chicago through U.S. Department of State sponsored exchange programs; enhances respect and communication through international exchanges and alliances; and promotes the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois as important centers of business and culture.
“In an era of bluster and bombs, citizen diplomacy is a builder of bridges.” – Madeline Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State
What We Do
WorldChicago is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that arranges citizen diplomacy programs for international professionals, scholars, and youth participating in U.S. Department of State and other short-term exchange programs in Chicago. Founded as the Hospitality Center of Greater Chicago in 1952, then later the International Visitors Center of Chicago, we became WorldChicago in 2010.
WorldChicago offers Chicago-area citizens opportunities to forge professional relationships with visiting international leaders and youth explore their fields of interest through meetings with Chicago’s 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, combatting 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