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Cultural, Language & Activity Programs

Each of IWA’s 18 Culture, Language and Activity Programs, offers a monthly educational and enriching program promoting cross-cultural dialogue and friendship. Meetings are held both mornings and evenings, at the home of an IWA member, the IWA office, or at another location. On occasion, groups may plan joint meetings. Most meetings are free of charge and all are open to every IWA member. Meetings are described in detail in the IWA calendar, published each month for the following three months.

Presenters are experts from academic, business, governmental, or non- governmental organizations. IWA members are sometimes presenters, sharing their expertise in many fields. The presentations spark remarkable discussions, as members from diverse cultures share their insights and develop friendships through mutual understanding.

Culture Programs

IWA Culture Programs host programs on a particular culture or region, including IWA’s home, Chicago. Topics may include issues of the day, such as health, current events, or finance, as well as history, literature, and the arts.

The Arabic Culture Program includes the Middle East and Arabic-speaking countries. Recent programs have included: “Uprising Against Ghadafi,” “Why Local Issues Matter in the Arab Spring,“ and “Back Home in Jerusalem after 25 Years.”

The Asian Culture Program recently hosted a tour of the Japanese Kimono exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago as well as a talk on the Genghis Khan Expedition and a showing and discussion of “Poetry,” a South Korean film.

The English-Speaking World Program presents meetings about areas where English is spoken, including the UK, North America, Africa, India, Australia, and The Philippines. Programs have included “Diwali, the Indian Festival of Lights,” a joint meeting with the Asian group; “Heart Attacks in Women,” a joint program with the Asian and Spanish groups; “Ecotourism in South Africa;” and “Social Media for Dummies.”

The European Culture Program brings the multi-faceted cultures of Europe together. A sampling of recent programs includes “How Women are Portrayed in the Italian Media,” “How the European Economy Affects Investment Choices,” and “Shoveling Against the Tide: the US Foreign Assistance Programs in Post-conflict Iraq.”

The Film Discussion Program highlights overlooked and/or important movies from all over the world, including “Cache,” an Austrian/French film; “A Separation,” from Iran, voted the best foreign language film of 2012; and “I Am Love,” about a Russian matriarch married into a wealthy Milanese family.

The Hellenic Culture Program focuses on the rich history and culture of Greece. A meeting discussing The Iliad was held jointly with the Literature Group and continued with the Performing Arts Group at the Court Theater production of The Iliad the following month. “The Parthenon and How Innovative Was It?” was a recent presentation at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Insider Chicago is a program that takes members and their guests to interesting sites in Chicago. The $10 fee to attend these programs is donated to our philanthropic efforts at Swift School. Recent tours have included “Lincoln Park Zoo’s Contribution to Chicago and the World” as well as visits to Millennium Park, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Graceland Cemetery, and the Union League Club of Chicago’s art collection.

The International Gourmet Program prepares abundant internationally-themed feasts three times a year for IWA members who pay a small charge to attend. Recent cuisines have included Italian, Scandinavian, and Mediterranean.

The Literature Program is IWA’s book club. Titles chosen reflect the international nature of the groupand have included offerings like The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar, Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson, and The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht.

The Turkish Program is a cultural rather than a language group, as all meetings are in English. Recent programs have included “Principles of Turkish Foreign Policy in a Global Context” presented by the Turkish Consul-General; “Travels of Evilya Celebi, the Ottoman Empire’s Marco Polo;” and “Turkish Cuisine – Healthy, Delicious, Divine.”

The Modern Professional Program Meetings are held in the evenings to accommodate members’ work schedules. Programs reflect the group’s interests, such as “Empowering Women – Proven Points for Success in Business and International Life,” “Russian Icon Painting and Beyond,” and “Finance 101: What Every Woman Should Know About Establishing a Financial Identity.”


The Performing Arts Program: Participants attend a theater performance monthly and then meet up with other members to discuss, interpret and critique.  

Language Programs

Language Program meetings are open to members who speak the language or who are students of the language; all are welcome regardless of proficiency. Each language group has at least one meeting a year in English, although most meetings are conducted in the group’s native tongue. Topics include literature and films, politics, and current events of the country or countries involved; human rights issues; and customs and culture.

Recent programs include:

The French Language Program : “French and Japanese Prints,” an exhibit at the Smart Museum; “Cajuns, Canada and Cooking,” the story of the Acadians (Cajuns) who fled persecution in Canada and eventually migrated to Louisiana; and “ Fête de Noël ,” a traditional French Christmas party.

The German Language Program: “The Road to Democracy in Germany,” a joint meeting with the European group; the viewing and discussion of a film about Anna Mahler; and “Tales About Relocations from Germany to Holland.”

The Polish Language Program: “Women of the Arab World from Palestine to Kuwait to Qatar” waspresented as a joint meeting with the Arabic group; “Poland in the Heart of the Jews and the Jews in the Heart of Poland;” and “Chicago’s Polish Downtown.”

The Spanish Language Program: A book discussion of El Albergue de las Mujeres Tristes by Marcela Serrano, a visit and lunch at La Unica Spanish Market, and a lively holiday party.

Activity Programs

The Activity Programs all welcome new players. The Bridge and Beginner Bridge Group maintains that “playing bridge, socializing and snacking – what could be better?”  The Golf Program welcomes newcomers to join them in season.




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