Looking at our organization and the world through a DEIA+ lens

Why is it important to World Learning to have a dedicated DEIA+ officer?

Our core values — community, social inclusion and justice, intercultural understanding, and sustainability — are a window into our culture and organizational behavior. They are deeply ingrained principles that drive decision-making and are reflected in how we do our work and fulfill our mission.

Not only should our people be reflective of the communities in which we live and work, but we must also make sure our people, who are the practitioners, have the competencies and skills to design and implement inclusive programming.

What is your role in the organization?

As a member of the senior team, my role as the Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer is to advance strategic DEIA+ efforts across the global community of staff, students, and faculty that makes up World Learning. In practice, that means ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion are woven into our culture, policies, processes, and programs.

How does your role tie into World Learning’s exchange program design/implementation?

Inclusive and equitable policies are at the heart of what World Learning does, and the organization has the privilege to administer some of the U.S. Department of State’s programs including the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), Youth Ambassadors, and the Professional Fellows Program. In my role, I partner closely with our Global Programs Community of Practice to share knowledge and best practices and ensure that DEIA+ principles are incorporated into our programs. That could mean designing materials and training sessions that are accessible to the widest range of participants or partnering with organizations to reach populations that historically have not been included in exchange programs.

Working for an organization steeped in experiential learning, I am excited about the opportunities that World Learning has to share and develop tools for more inclusive programming in international exchange.

What should international exchange professionals keep in mind as they apply a DEIA+ lens to programming?

The United States is one of the most diverse countries in the world, and our exchange practitioners must reflect the diversity of lived experiences that embodies it. When it comes to designing inclusive programming, we need to ask: Who is not participating in our programs and why? What does it mean to be inclusive and equitable when we engage with local organizations, communities, or host families? Despite the intense hardships of the pandemic, it highlighted that we have the power to innovate and to explore how we design our programs in a more inclusive way. World Learning and many others adapted and used online technology to conduct orientations, connect and support grantees, and deliver learning opportunities. What other new and innovative approaches are out there? Working for an organization steeped in experiential learning, I am excited about the opportunities that World Learning has to share and develop tools for more inclusive programming in international exchange.

Can you speak to the importance of diversifying the pool of exchange participants from abroad, as well as their interactions with U.S. citizens in host communities?

When people have the chance to truly engage with one another, to actively listen to another perspective — whether it is over a meal, during a classroom or site visit, or in a virtual setting — that experience stays with a person in a profound way. Exchanges change lives. Lifelong professional, academic, and personal networks are created. By widening the pool of exchange participants from abroad and broadening interactions with the various lived experiences and initiatives of local U.S. communities, new connections and networks are sparked and lead to creative and innovative solutions. These solutions advance peace and prosperity around the world.

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World Learning

World Learning

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