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International Groups

Iowa International Center
Patricia Grote
Executive Director
319 7th Sreet, Suite 200
Des Moines, IA 50309
(515) 282-8269

"Welcoming the World to Iowa"

Since 1938, the Iowa International Center has been working to fulfill its mission to build cultural respect at home and abroad one person at a time. Throughout the organization's history, the many volunteers who provided leadership and time to the organization always believed the Iowa International Center should be dedicated to international understanding between Iowans and the rest of the world. To this end  we currently administers a variety of programs which aim to connect Iowans with people, ideas and cultures from around the world.

Interpretation & Translation Services:

Interpretation and translation services at the Iowa International Center are provided by experienced language experts in over 50 languages, serving medical, judicial and governmental services  as well as  Individuals and corporations, with 90+%  being natives of their country, helping those they serve to overcome both linguistic and cultural barriers. Translation services for critical documents are also available. 

Our Free 24/7 Emergency Interpretation Hotline, sponsored by Prairie Meadows, is available in 220 languages and is offered free of charge in emergency situations for law enforcement, health and social services to assist non-English speakers in life-threatening situations.

International Visitor Programs

Through the Sehgal Foundation International Visitors Center, we welcome more than 150 international emerging global leaders to central Iowa each year for professional exchange programs that promote economic growth here and abroad, as well as cultural understanding and a strong sense of citizen diplomacy in our community.

Community Connections Program:  Sponsored by USAID, Community Connections brings groups of people primarily from the former Soviet Union to Iowa to improve their professional skills but also to gain an understanding of the United States and its people.  Designed to promote public diplomacy and allow visitors to personally connect with Iowans, participants stay with local families throughout their 3-week program.

International Visitor Leadership Program:

Iowa International Center joined the National Council for International Visitor (NCIV) network in 1976 and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. The purpose of these visits is for international leaders to learn about Iowa, its policies and procedures in business and government, and to enrich the lives of Iowans. These meetings have provided the starting point for many of lasting personal and institutional ties between Iowa and other countries around the globe. Visitors represent a wide variety of fields including government, business and finance, education, law and civic education, communications and the media, foreign relations, arts and culture, and community issues. Typically, visitors spend three to four days in Iowa, meeting with six to ten Iowa colleagues.

Educational Programs and Cultural Celebrations:

Passport to Prosperity: An annual signature gala which honors the achievements of selected Iowa immigrants and refugees.  The 2015 event will take place at the Olmsted Center on the Drake University Campus on Saturday, September 26.

Iowa International Center International Dialogue Series, sponsored by DuPont Pioneer: Speakers on international topics provide insights into key global issues and topics that impact the international community in Iowa.  These free programs are held the first Tuesday of each month at the Des Moines Public Library, Central Branch on Grand Ave.  Additional program support is provided by Drake University, the Des Moines Public Library and the Greater Des Moines Partnership. 

Multilingual Resources and Programs for New Iowans

Welcome to Iowa Website: 
This website is a critical resource for non-English speaking Iowans, including immigrants, refugees, new visitors as well as service providers – connecting them with the resources necessary to live, work and raise a family in Iowa. Utilizing Google Translate, this information is available in 80 languages. For more information, please visit

Welcome to Iowa Printed Guide: 
Printed in eight languages, the Welcome to Iowa Guide is intended to connect newcomers to the resources they need to make a smooth transition. Iowa’s first multilingual international guide was distributed across the state, providing a valuable resource to global visitors and immigrants looking to live, work and raise a family in the state. In addition to basic emergency services and general needs, the 46-page guide includes information regarding employment opportunities, educational services and medical services.  An updated PDF version of the guide will soon be available online at

 Accessible ESL (English as a Second Language) Classes:
The Iowa International Center currently offers Accessible ESL Classes that provide free English educational instruction for refugees and immigrants who would otherwise not have access to this important learning opportunity.  Barriers of cost, transportation and childcare often limit new Iowans with no English skills from participating in traditional class offerings in our community.  Our professional instructors at Deer Ridge Apartments and Zion Lutheran Church in Des Moines have seen English assessment scores grow more than 100% in many students during their time in our classes. The program is supported through private and corporation donations to the Iowa International Center's Ray Resource Initiative.  

For more information on the Iowa International Center, please visit