A smiling man and college-aged woman stand shoulder to shoulder in a classroom.
A smiling man and college-aged woman stand shoulder to shoulder in a classroom.
Dr. Maurice Mongkuo (left) stands with one of his students while serving as a Fulbright Specialist at Altai State University.

Siberia was not where Maurice Mongkuo had initially imagined he would be going when he applied to the Fulbright Specialist Program.

When he was matched to a project to provide lectures and workshops at Altai State University (ASU), a public institution in Western Siberia, Mongkuo acknowledges he did not know much about the region, except for the long and complex political relationship between Washington and Moscow.

“I had no idea what to expect,” says Dr. Mongkuo, a Professor of Public Administration at Fayetteville State University (FSU), a historically black university in North Carolina. …


Three smiling women stand shoulder to shoulder.
Three smiling women stand shoulder to shoulder.
Dr. Mega Subramaniam (center), stands together with two of her Kyrgyz colleagues.

Mega Subramaniam is on a mission to engage underserved youth through libraries and digital learning. The associate professor at the University of Maryland in College Park is passionate about helping librarians use design thinking techniques and digital technologies to re-envision how libraries can engage and serve youth patrons in the 21st century.

In the Spring of 2019, Subramaniam took her expertise to the Kyrgyz Republic as a Fulbright Specialist in order to train librarians from a wide range of educational and professional backgrounds how to better engage with youth.

“In an increasingly divided world of haves and have-nots, libraries play a critical role in leveling the playing field for youth learning,” she says. …


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Developing soft skills, such as those related to communication, decision-making, and social interaction, is a top priority for youth workforce and entrepreneurship programs around the world. However, measuring participants’ progress in these areas can be challenging. To help take the guesswork out of this process, World Learning has developed a new, free tool that can be used to track and assess changes in soft skills both at the individual and group level.

Now available to download in English and French, with Arabic versions under development for several countries, the WorkLinks Skills and Values Assessment (WLSVA) is designed to measure a range of soft skills and civic values. …


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LEAD Mongolia alumna Enkhbayar Tumurbaatar works as an election observer in June 2020.

By Meghan Burland, Chief of Party, Leaders Advancing Democracy (LEAD) Mongolia

Free and fair elections are often considered a hallmark of democracy. Mongolia was no exception to this on June 24, 2020, when 73 percent of registered voters turned out to vote for the 76 members of the State Great Khural, Mongolia’s unicameral parliament, demonstrating their steadfast commitment to citizen participation in spite of COVID-19 social distancing restrictions and severe weather across the country.

Youth played a significant role in the election, with youth voter turnout at 62 percent for voters aged 18 to 25, an increase from the 2016 youth voter turnout of 50.8 percent. This year’s election also featured an unprecedented number of young candidates running for office as well as youth-led nonpartisan citizen election monitoring efforts. …


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The “Tuna Diplomacy” cohort in Oregon, June 2019.

September 4, 2020 — At a time when many around the world are disconnected from their family, friends, and larger community because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of high school students from the Freely Associated States of Micronesia and the United States are bridging the Pacific Ocean through their shared dedication to ocean conservation.

Only a year ago, these students were strangers. Today, they are jointly seeing through a plan to get youth in their communities involved in ocean conservation and climate advocacy through an international network of environmental clubs.

This story begins, in part, in June 2019 when a group of 20 students from the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, and the United States — along with three adult mentors — came together to participate in an exchange in Portland, Oregon, focused on ocean sustainability and partnerships through the On-Demand Youth Leadership Program. …


This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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Djamila Azzouz was a facilitator for The Experiment Digital programs in 2019 and 2020.

Djamila Azzouz is a 22-year-old Algerian student who worked as a facilitator for World Learning’s eight-week The Experiment Digital program in 2019 and 2020. The program is a virtual exchange designed to connect hundreds of young people across the U.S. with peers in Iraq, Algeria, Yemen, and other countries in the Middle East and North Africa Region. Trained facilitators play an essential role in the exchange, fostering safe and intimate group conversations between participants — both in virtual ‘neighborhoods’, groups of 30–35 participants and ‘families’, small groups of 6–8 participants.

Azzouz is currently working on a master’s degree in Anglo Saxon literature and civilization and majoring in media studies at Abou EL Kacem Saâdallah University — also known as Algiers 2 — located in Algiers, the capital of Algeria. She is an alumna of World Learning’s Maharat Mentorship program, an eight-month training program designed to help young Algerian women develop leadership and professional skills. …


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Sawsan Jan (bottom left) with some of her Global UGRAD classmates.

Sawsan Jan had always wanted to study abroad in the United States. While studying architecture at Dar Al-Hekma University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, she heard about a program that would allow her to study in the U.S. for a semester and knew she had to take advantage of the opportunity.

“It was very overwhelming to give something a chance,” she says of the application process.

However, taking that chance paid off as Jan was accepted into the Global Undergraduate Exchange Program (Global UGRAD), which brings outstanding students from around the world to the U.S. for one semester of study. …


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Bassam Fotouh (right) teaches students at The STEM Hub Egypt.

Update: The team from the University of Science and Technology at Zewail City placed third in Shell’s 2020 international Imagine the Future competition.

The STEM Hub Egypt is a learning center equipping the country’s young scientists, innovators, and entrepreneurs with the necessary skills to lead the North African country into a new era of technical innovation.

It’s a project of World Learning, focused on exploration and discovery in what’s known as STEM fields — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

One of the center’s workshop facilitators and content creators, Bassam Fotouh, is part of a team of university students who spent almost a year envisioning various scenarios for Egypt in the year 2050. …


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Enabled by modern technology’s incredible capacity to connect people, virtual exchange engages participants from across the world to learn together and develop intercultural understanding. The NextGen Coders Network (NGCN) is one such virtual exchange program, bringing students and young professionals from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and the US together online to develop their programming abilities. Over a ten-week virtual “Hackathon,” participants complete independent learning modules while simultaneously working with their groupmates to produce a final website or application to tackle global challenges.

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Virtual exchanges like NGCN can play a vital role in enabling participants to develop skills critical to succeeding in the modern workforce, such as project management, group collaboration, and cross-cultural communication. In NGCN’s first year, more than 100 participants successfully graduated from the program. These students and young professionals completed projects on a wide array of topics, including refugee camps, addiction, sports diplomacy, mental health, travel, web design, and public health. …


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World Learning alumni around the globe are contributing to the COVID-19 response efforts. Many of them are using experience, knowledge, and resources they gained on their exchange program to stem the spread of the virus and support their local communities as they grapple with the impacts of the pandemic.

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Tawhida Shiropa, IVLP alumna

Tawhida Shiropa is the founder and CEO of Moner Bondhu, a social enterprise in Dhaka focused on mental healthcare. She was previously the features senior sub-editor for Prothom Alo, one of the largest daily newspapers in Bangladesh. …

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World Learning

World Learning empowers people, communities, and institutions to create a more peaceful and just world.

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