by Oral Miller

Friends of ACB from around the world have visited ACB national conventions for years, but due to the frantic pace of convention week many conventioneers have not been able to meet them, even in passing. Efforts were made to improve the situation a number of years ago through such steps as the scheduling of International Conversations, which were informal meetings sandwiched between larger convention functions in the late afternoon, and then Marvelena Quesada Gray in her capacity then as ACB's first lady invited international guests to make brief introductory statements in their own languages during the opening convention sessions. With the re-activation of the international relations committee (chaired now by Sandra Sermons), interest has increased enormously in scheduling a cordial and welcoming reception to recognize and introduce our international guests, hear their "voices from around the world" and learn more about them and their nations. This year's Voices from Around the World Reception on Wednesday evening, July 8, will be a great opportunity to meet most of the truly outstanding international guests attending the 2009 ACB national convention. Note that I did not refer to all of our international guests because last-minute delays in such functions as obtaining visas to enter the USA as well as transportation problems often alter travel plans at the last minute, not to mention the fact that we do not always know specifically in advance about the plans of international guests.

This year's Voices from Around the World reception, the convention banquet and other activities will feature guests from, among other nations, South Africa, Australia and Vietnam. President and Mrs. Pomerantz will introduce with pleasure Ms. Shakila Maharaj, a noted organizational psychologist from South Africa, and World Blind Union president Maryann Diamond from Australia, who will be with us during the latter part of convention week. As for late-breaking news, the upcoming convention will be visited by two blind educators of the blind from Vietnam: the director of a center for the blind in Ho Chi Minh City and a teacher of Braille at a school for the blind in another city. Their desire to attend the convention and their need for specific assistance was brought to our attention by an exceptionally articulate blind Vietnamese student who is working as an interpreter and attending college in the USA. These educators are being assisted by the Eunice Fiorito Eyes for the World Foundation.

Thus far I have mentioned only visitors we know to be planning to attend the upcoming convention. I am confident that many more will be identified through the registration process. In view of such international interest you will not be surprised to learn that the international relations committee is beginning to explore the possibility of organizing a cultural exchange visit by an ACB delegation to another nation sometime in the future.

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