And so, the day has arrived for me to leave on the 3 week visit to the US for the IVLP. Even though I had almost 6 months heads-up for the program, it always boils down to the last day of frenetic activity. Had to wrap up correcting answer sheets for my class exam and finish a round of client calls.
Departure: My flight to DC via London was at an ungodly 4am. I so much prefer to have midnight flights as it beautifully ties in with my sleep pattern. But 4am? That’s pits. It messes with you body clock. Groggy eyed, I boarded the British Airways flight heading to London on a long 10 hour flight. Thanks to a faulty headphone, the entertainment system wasn’t tempting me. Caught up on a light sleep and then got some good writing done.
Transit: Had an hour & half layover at Heathrow airport. But its very easy to under-estimate the time it takes to transit to the next flight. The security check was excruciatingly long. Then had to head to Terminal 5 which meant having a long walk and then take the airport-train. All this adds up a good hour. Good thing I didn’t decide to spend time on window shopping. The WiFi at Heathrow was a blessing and just had time to check mails and send out a couple of updates.
London to DC: It was a pleasant surprise to notice that my vehicle of transport was going to be the Airbus A380-800, the World’s largest Passenget aircraft. Its my first ever time on this double-decker and it was true that even though its twice as large as any other aircraft, its engines are 50% quieter. Watched two movies. The Monumental Men (How can I miss a WW2 movie?), and The Hercules. Helped me take care of the 8 hour flight.
Landed: Upon landing, took a cab from Dulles Interntional airport to my hotel in central DC. It was only 5pm but noticed dusk was setting in quick. Ah, the daylight saving time. Checked in at the hotel and was greeted by Stan, the smiling and charming guy who will be our host companion for the entire trip. Was supposed to catch up with the other IVLP invitees and head into town. But old enough and wise enough to give top priority to sleep. Golden tip for enjoying any travel to a new place. Slept right through dinner but so felt good to sleep horizontally.
Can’t wait to meet the rest of the IVLP invitees in the morning. And oh yes, breakfast. Already starving.
When I got invited for the IVLP program, I was very happy but clearly I didn’t realize how prestigious this program is until I stumbled upon this Wikipedia page. Amazed to see the kind of World leaders who have participated in the program. Like BBC News Magazine said, this is a powerful ‘Leadership spotting’ program.
Ofcourse, this page only lists the political leaders but the program also encompasses from different domains as well. The International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) is a professional exchange program funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The mission of IVLP is to offer current and emerging international leaders the opportunity to experience the richness and diversity of American political, economic, social and cultural life. This is done through carefully designed exchange programs that reflect participants’ professional interests and the public diplomacy objectives of the United States government.
I leave for the US tonight and look forward to three weeks of learning and meeting leaders from different departments. The program takes us to five cities, Washington DC, Harrisburg, Pittsburg, San Franscisco and New York City. If you are in any of the five cities, I look forward to catching up with you. I can be reached on my email Kiruba@Kiruba.com.