Naperville City Councilman Ian Holzhauer gains new perspective after trip to India

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Earlier this year, Naperville City Councilman Ian Holzhauer went on the trip of a lifetime.

The Naperville native traveled to India from Oct. 25 to Nov. 7 with six delegates from across the country chosen by the American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL). The group picks elected officials aged 41 and under to go on an exchange trip to a foreign country.

Holzhauer first learned about this opportunity from the ACYPL at his 15th-year Georgetown Law School reunion last year.

“I meet someone, and she’s like, ‘What do you do?’ I said I’m a Naperville City Councilman, I wasn’t expecting a reaction,” said Holzhauer. “She said, ‘My gosh, it’s a really well-regarded city, 150,000 people… well if you’re interested, (I) could supply (you) a nomination… This year, one of the trips was to send seven Americans to India, and I was fortunate enough to be one of those people.”

Holzhauer visits historical landmarks in India

After a briefing in Washington, D.C. from the U.S. State Department and the Indian Embassy, Holzhauer and the rest of the delegates were off to India.

On the first day of the trip, Holzhauer visited a famous Indian landmark which he considered, “one of the most impressive things he’d ever seen.”

“It’s truly stunning,” said Holzhauer. “One of things that struck me at the Taj Mahal was how much pride people in India took in it. The vast majority of people we saw, they were in saris, they were really dressed up like they were going to a special place. So that just showed us how much pride and patriotism there is in India. People really value those cultural treasures they have.”

Bond between Naperville and India

The group also visited the Red Fort in the capital, Delhi, and Bhubaneswar, a tropical city near the Indian Ocean. While there, Holzhuaer was able to build on Naperville’s deep connection with India.

“I got to present to the President of India’s Chamber (of Commerce) – 250,000 members,” said Holzhauer. “And even more special, the DuPage Forest Preserve, we worked together to rename a bridge at Springbrook Prairie the Bridge to India. I presented a picture of Springbrook Prairie to the gentlemen in charge of their chamber, and that was a really special moment. I invited him to come out here next time he’s here in the U.S.”

Holzhauer and the other delegates also met several members of the Indian parliament, government ministers, and regional officials.

“One of the big takeaways I had from the whole was how much we have in common,” said Holzhauer. “We’re both former British colonies, our legal systems are based around the same ideas, our Constitutions, our election system, a lot of it really tracks closely. There’s a lot of commonalities between our democracies.” 

Now back in Naperville, Holzhauer is excited to share all that he’s learned in India with the city he represents.

“It’s so different now when I talk to a constituent that was born in India, of which we have many,” said Holzhauer. “To be able to say, ‘Hey, I was there,’ when you talk about going to New Delhi (or) Jaipur, I know what you’re talking about. (I) know what it looks, tastes, smells like, and I am so much richer for having had that experience.”

Photo & video courtesy: Ian Holzhauer

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