Global Ties that Bind: World Learning Mothers and Daughters

In recognition of Mother’s Day May 8, World Learning is highlighting mothers and daughters from three families whose lives have been transformed by World Learning programs. Their stories span three generations and demonstrate the ongoing importance of World Learning’s work in cultivating young leaders to create a more peaceful and just world.

The Boyce Family

Amelia and Johanna on campus last summer. Here they pose in front of portrait of Johanna's father, Gordon Boyce.

Joan Boyce and her husband, Gordon, were group leaders for an Experiment in International Living program to England in 1948. They quickly became so committed to The Experiment’s mission to change the world one friendship at a time that Gordon became president of The Experiment in 1950. Their daughter Johanna grew up on The Experiment campus immersed in cross-cultural experiences, and later went on her own Experiment experience to France.

Last year, Johanna’s daughter Amelia participated in a youth leadership program at SIT. Amelia says her time on campus was “one of the most influential experiences in my life.” As a result, she now plans to major in peace and justice studies in college.

Joan Boyce said, “I am so pleased that my granddaughter is focusing on and continuing work that I did all my life – furthering the cause of peace in the world.”

The Hulnick Family

Elisa and Janet sharing stories from their Experiment experiences in Mexico.

Janet Hulnick says participating in an Experiment program wasn’t a choice, it was an expectation. Janet’s mother, Barbara, had been involved with The Experiment for years and when Janet and her sister Betsy were old enough, their mother simply told them: “You’re going on The Experiment.”

Betsy went to Italy, returned there in college, and went on to work in the Foreign Service. Janet went to Mexico, which inspired her to study Spanish in college. Interested in public health and wanting to work in a cross-cultural environment, Janet enrolled at what is now SIT Graduate Institute. She completed her studies and in 1988 led an Experiment group to Mexico. Afterwards, she began working at World Learning and is currently the Director of International Student and Scholar Services at SIT.

Elisa (center) in traditional dress during her homestay in Mexico.

Janet encouraged her own daughter Elisa to participate in an Experiment program in 2009. Like her mother, Elisa went to Mexico.

“When she mentioned she went to see the ballet folklorico or the ruins, I could really share in her excitement,” said Janet Hulnick.

The Fantini Family

Beatriz Fantini served as an SIT academic director in Italy in the late 1960s. The hands-on, practical curriculum that SIT offered convinced her to later enroll in SIT’s Masters in Teaching program.

“The program changed my view on the role of a teacher. It introduced the teacher as a facilitator of learning, which is very different from the concept of teacher in Latin America,” she said. 

Carla and Beatriz have worked for World Learning for a combined total of 55 years.

Beatriz’s daughter Carla says she doesn’t remember ever questioning whether or not she would go on an Experiment program. The only question was where. She chose Italy.

Beatriz wasn’t the only World Learning influence in Carla’s life. Her grandmother, Alina, worked for The Experiment in Bolivia, and her father, Alvino, was a faculty member of the SIT Graduate Institute. Carla who now also works at World Learning as a Spanish Instructor and the Executive Assistant to the President, was influenced by her parents’ teaching careers and spent time teaching English in Japan. She later led Experiment groups to Chile, Italy, Japan, and Mexico.

“I’ve always said I had Experiment blood. I don’t remember a time when it wasn’t part of my vocabulary and my life. Every time I left, I always found myself returning [to World Learning]. It’s a place that encourages exploration and understanding of others,” Carla says.

Beatriz also continues to work for World Learning because she believes in the mission and enjoys working with program participants from all over the world.

“I also love having my daughter work at the same place I do. It’s a luxury few get to enjoy,” she says.

For these mothers and daughters, cross-cultural understanding and international exchange is a way of life and a family value that brings them closer together. 

We’d love to hear about your family connection to World Learning. Share your story about how our program has helped bring your family closer together.

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3 Responses to Global Ties that Bind: World Learning Mothers and Daughters

  1. Rachel Glickman says:

    Great stories! Some I knew, and some I didn’t. I hope my own two daughters grow up to be Experimenters too as World Learning programs have always been a big part of my life. In fact, my love for cross-cultural experiences dates back to my time studying abroad with SIT in Cameroon. Now I’ve taken my family to Mexico for two years where my daughters are becoming bilingual and more culturally competent citizens. We too keep our roots in VT and hope to return to World Learning some day. Thanks for a great Mother’s Day feature!

  2. Laura says:

    I’ll never forget taking my mother to the Great Wall of China, her first trip out of North America when she was 55 years old. She told me that she never thought she would be in China, the place she had read about as a girl growing up on a farm in the Midwest. We were there that day because of the sacrifices she made in her life and her constant encouragement to “go do things that women in my generation were never allowed to do.” Since our visit to China, we’ve made a point to travel together and get to know people in places like Syria, Egypt and Jordan. We’re both so thankful now for having experienced these distant places together.

  3. alejandra says:

    These such great stories! Thanks for sharing…especially as I think about my mom and her pushing my sisters and I to return to Central America every summer…so we wouldn’t forget our language and where we come from. Little did she know I’d return for 4 years to work in remote villages and in the midst of post-earthquake reconstruction! Not the ideal scenario she’d envisioned…but thanks, mom!

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