Central Mission of the Organization:
IRIS is a non-profit, non-religious organization founded in 1993 and located in Ames, Iowa. Its mission is to promote international education, development, and peace through rural initiatives.
History of the Organization:
The organization was originally called the International Center for Community Journalism, a combination of Anderson’s two enthusiasms. Journalists were brought to Iowa where they stayed at host homes and interned at newspapers across central Iowa and even in Muscatine and Dubuque. Several stayed in Newton and interned at the Newton Daily News. One of them, Alexander Zhabskiy frm Volgodonsk, Russia, returned home to create a sister-newspaper relationship between the Volgodonsk Weekly and the Daily News. Articles continue to be traded between the two publications, one of the only efforts of its kind in the nation.
Anderson and IRIS were also a key stimulus in creating OPEN (Organization Promoting Everlasting Neighbors), Newton’s sister-city organization, that maintains close ties with sister-city, Smila, Ukraine. It has also assisted in establishing similar sister-city relations for Oskaloosa and Adel, as well as funding support for these efforts in Marshalltown, Muscatine, Cedar Rapids, Waverly, Adel and Oskaloosa. These initiatives ultimately led to a sister state relationship between Iowa and the Cherkassy region in Ukraine.
Anderson broadened the scope of IRIS to now include a number of professions and field, changing the name to Iowa Resources for International Service. He also created a for-profit organization called Global Ventures, with emphasis on teaching English and American culture to business leaders from such Asian countries as Japan, South Korea and Thailand.
Almost 250 participants have since traveled to Iowa from Armenia, Bulgaria, China, Georgia, Indonesia, Japan, Mongolia, Philippines, Russia, Thailand and Ukraine. Two journalists from Bulgaria and Thailand wrote books related to their experiences from Iowa newspapers. The Thai book, said Anderson, was the first of its kind in that country to discuss and develop a code of ethics for journalists in Thailand.
International Issues and Focus:
International exchanges involving students and professionals.
Events and Programs Sponsored:
Women in Northern Nigeris Project.
Youth Exchange and Study Program
South African Youth Ambassadors In Action
Bulgarian Library Exchange
Government and Civil Society