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  • Writer's pictureCadence Barker

The Community Impact of International Exchange: An Interview with Tasha Tatara

Tasha Tatara, Dual Director of Sales for Hotel Chauncey and Hotel Vetro

In 2023, Global Ties U.S. posted its first-ever Community Impact Study, detailing how the local communities who engage with international delegations are impacted by the experience, primarily in their ability to ‘operate more effectively in an international environment.’ It revealed that local communities benefit from international exchange in four primary categories of impact: global knowledge and cultural competence, civic engagement and community inclusion, economic impacts and workforce development, and international connectivity. With a second iteration of the survey coming out in 2024, we spoke with Tasha Tatara, Dual Director of Sales for Hotel Chauncey and Hotel Vetro, to reveal some of the community impacts specific to eastern Iowa.  

 

Many of our international delegations are housed at Hotel Chauncey for the duration of their stay in eastern Iowa, and Tasha has been responsible for much of the related coordination for almost seven years. Her tasks include, but are not limited to, organizing their reservations, getting them in-house, and ensuring the front desk is equipped to execute the necessary responsibilities. The hotel staff help the delegations with logistics, but also get to interact with them more casually, speaking with them as they go in and out throughout the day and learning about their backgrounds, the work they do, and their experience in eastern Iowa.  

 

Hotel Chauncey via Booking.com

The 2023 Community Impact Study showed that participants felt more at ease with cross-cultural interactions because of their experience with the IVLP (International Visitor Leadership Program), and eastern Iowa is no exception. Tasha emphasizes that, after having worked with different delegations for several years, one of the biggest changes she has witnessed is the community’s ease of interaction with international visitors, especially when delegations visit from similar regions. Continued interactions result in some background knowledge about various parts of the world, which helps lead to having more individual-specific conversations. ‘It makes it easier to have the confidence to know that they’re just as curious as you are,’ Tasha says, ‘you’re just asking questions and learning about cultural differences, which is kind of fun to understand’. She notes that the breakfast crew at Spare Me, in particular, have had some amazing interactions with the delegations because they get to speak to them every morning, allowing the staff to know the delegations more personally.  

 

Hotel Vetro via Booking.com

International exchange also helps strengthen community inclusion, whether that means gaining a better understanding of our community’s needs or having a greater pride or appreciation for it. Tasha highlights that hosting international delegations has helped her connect with the eastern Iowa community. In her opinion, the biggest impact is ‘the recognition that a small town in Iowa has all of these cultural differences in it, and it thrives, and it’s a really great place to be.’ 

 

Tasha says she hopes to see more volunteers hosting visitors in their homes, having dinners, and making personal connections. ‘Even when traveling myself,’ she remarks, ‘the best part is when you can connect with somebody local.’  

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