From Inspiration to Impact: Stories of International Education and Exchange
International Education Week, occurring November 15–19, is a time to remember the value that international education and exchange holds for students worldwide. At World Learning and School for International Training (SIT), international education and exchange are at the core of our mission to create a more just and peaceful world. As our students and program participants immerse themselves in different cultures, exchange ideas, and absorb new perspectives — whether in person or virtually — they take us all one step closer to a more just and peaceful world.
To celebrate International Education Week, we’re looking back at stories of how international education and exchange have impacted program participants across World Learning.
Following the release of a Joint Statement of Principles in Support of International Education from the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Education, World Learning Inc. CEO Carol Jenkins says, “Ultimately, international education and exchange cut to the core of what makes us human: to learn about and from one another, and to work together to solve the world’s most pressing issues. To learn, and to experience life itself, is to strive for a more peaceful and just world for all.”
The International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) equips participants with new knowledge and connections through international learning experiences and exciting projects. Recent IVLP alumni went on to forge new paths with real impact, including establishing the first transgender shelter in Singapore, leading the construction of new wheelchair-accessible ramps in eastern Ukraine, and more.
There are few global issues as urgent as climate change, a fact known all too well by a group of 20 students from Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Palau, and the U.S., who participated in the On-Demand Youth Leadership Program focused on ocean sustainability in June 2019. Read about how these students came together for their final project, developing International Teens Upholding Nature Association — or ITUNA — to support local clubs that focus on the environmental needs of participating communities.
International education is a journey unique to each individual who crosses borders and gains new perspective. Take Sawsan Jan, a student studying architecture in Saudi Arabia who would go to the U.S. through the Global Undergraduate Exchange Program (Global UGRAD). Through her time at Keene State College in New Hampshire, she was able to study architecture in new ways and form long-lasting connections with her peers. “The more we experience, the more we realize how little we have experienced and how there’s this great room to keep on exploring and knowing more,” she says.
Siberia was not where the late Dr. Maurice Mongkuo had initially imagined he would be going when he applied to the Fulbright Specialist Program. A professor of public administration at Fayetteville State University, a historically black university in North Carolina, Dr. Mongkuo accepted the invitation anyway. As he lectured undergraduate and graduate students on U.S. public administration, he recalled how his experience was deeply enriching on personal and cultural levels while enabling him to see himself in a whole new way. Dr. Mongkuo died in 2021. What better time than International Education Week to honor his memory.