Rachel shares information about IRIS at the Earth Day celebration

Last week, Program Assistant Rachel Cramer attended an Earth Day event at Iowa State University. The event acted as a showcase of

sustainability-related community and student organizations and was hosted by Iowa State University Live Green and the student group, The Green Umbrella. The event allowed students, faculty, and staff to learn more about the sustainable efforts happening their community.


Why Did IRIS Attend?

It’s easy to wonder why IRIS attended an Earth Day event, because isn’t sustainability all about the environment? Sustainability is actually made up of three different areas including social sustainability, financial sustainable, and environmental sustainability. The IRIS program does a lot to support each kind of sustainability.

Sustainability Venn Diagram
Sustainability Venn Diagram

The main missions of IRIS are all related to social sustainability. Social sustainability focuses on building communities so they are diverse and in which every community member is able to live and grow. Communities that are socially sustainable allow all members, including those with financial disadvantages, to have equal opportunities and a good quality of life.


IRIS seeks to build communities both in the United States and in the home communities of every student. Students learn how they can be agents for community change while being hosted, and are able to make a positive impact while volunteering. In turn, these students are also able to grow their communities in their home countries by utilizing the skills they have learned to organize projects.



IRIS also encourages diversity and understanding in Iowa. The population in Iowa is about 93% Caucasian. Many smaller communities in Iowa are unable to experience the cultural richness that diversity provides. Through the exchange programs, communities are able to learn more about other cultures and experience diversity.


IRIS programs also assist in environmental sustainability in the home countries of the students. IRIS alumni in Tanzania are currently working on a project that utilizes old tires and glass bottles for a beautification project in Zanzibar.  The recycled tires and glass bottles will gain a new life as landscaping implements at a community garden.


You can help your community be socially sustainable by hosting an IRIS student. For more information about how you can make a positive difference in your community and to answer any questions about IRIS please contact Kim at 515.292.7103 or kim@iris-center.org.

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