International Visitor Leadership Program Group from Thailand signs Agreement During Visit

International Visitor Leadership Program Group from Thailand signs Agreement During Visit


What started as a typical International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) visit ended as an extraordinary event. International House (IH) was asked to coordinate the visit of nine park managers from Thailand through the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), a premier professional exchange program coordinated by the U.S. Department of State’s. When IH Program Director Johnelle Causwell arrived at the Knoxville Airport to pick up the group, which included Superintendent Krissada Homsud of the Khao Yai National Park, no one knew that the trip would end with such exciting news. Unbeknownst to the group, officials in the Thai and US governments were finalizing wording for the first Sister Park agreement for both the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and The Khao Yai National Park.

Although not exactly twins, the two parks share a number of similar resources and protected area management and operational concerns. The significant biodiversity of both Khao Yai and Great Smoky Mountains is at the center of their mission and programs. Both parks are the most visited National Parks within their respective countries, which presents similar challenges associated with high visitor use, along with potential impacts due to adjacent land use and development. Both parks are popular for spectacular wildlife viewing, streams and waterfalls, and lush mountain forests.

“We are honored to form this unique partnership with Khao Yai National Park which shares so many similarities with the Smokies,” said Park Superintendent Ditmanson. “There has already been an incredible exchange of information among our staff and Superintendent Homsud and we look forward to continued sharing and learning through this relationship.”

During their visit, the Khao Yai National Park delegation met with GSMNP Park managers, biologists, entomologists, educators, historians, and facility managers offering the opportunity to learn about resources in the field and to cultivate relationships for future information exchange.

Host An International Delegate This Month!


International House will soon be welcoming two high level delegations of international visitors to Charlotte, and we need your help! We are seeking host families to provide a home stay experience for these distinguished guests and show them some wonderful Southern hospitality!

Our first delegation is comprised of a group of six female leaders from Pakistan, Nepal, and Kyrgystan who are legislative officials or work in the area of human rights, women’s rights, and education empowerment. We are looking for home hosts between April 17 – May 8 and would consider families who are able to host either the entire 3 weeks or half of that time

Our second delegation will be with us between April 20 – 25. International House will host five finance leaders from Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan through the Rumsfeld Fellows Open World Program who are in Charlotte to gain insight into the subjects of local community engagement, international relations, and resolving conflicts between investors and governments. We are also seeking host families for these visitors.

What can you expect as a home host? We are looking for individuals and families to:

  • Welcome these guests into your homes.
  • Serve as cultural ambassadors in the evenings and weekends.
  • Assist with transportation on the weekdays to and from International House (1817 Central Avenue) with drop-offs around 9:00am and pick-ups around 5:00pm (carpools can be arranged).
  • Provide breakfast and dinner.

A Home Host Orientation will be arranged prior to your guest’s arrival.

Please let us know if you are interested in learning more about hosting one of these distinguished visitors. Our home hosts usually tell us that they have a wonderful experience with these international guests and develop friendships that last a lifetime! 

For more information, please contact Johnelle Causwell at jcauswell@ihclt.orgor call at (704) 342-2248 office or (561) 543-0740 cell.