Category Archives: Education

Spotlight: Leah Bitat

In April, we are launching a new series of stories highlighting the achievements of our staff called World Learning Voices. Our first spotlight is on Leah Bitat, field director in Algeria. We hope to use this series to (re) introduce donors, journalists and general public to the inspiring people who work here. Leah Bitat is currently the World Learning Field Director in Algeria, and has spent her career applying the values and practices behind inclusive education to institutions across the United States and internationally. We caught up with her after she conducted a Universal Design for Learning workshop at the World Learning offices on March 16th. Tell us a little bit about your background and what brought you to World Learning in Algeria. I’m from Alaska, and I was an educational advocate for kids with disabilities. My first job was … Continue reading

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Teaching for the Future: STEM Education in Egypt

In Egypt, World Learning is working to harness the potential of the country’s youth through innovative science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. Vice President of Communications Kimberly Abbott speaks to Donald Steinberg, World Learning president & CEO, and Rebecca Spotts, senior education specialist, about the experiential and problem-oriented curriculum World Learning is developing for Egypt’s pilot STEM schools. Donald Steinberg is president and CEO of World Learning. Prior to World Learning, Steinberg served as deputy administrator at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). In his previous work with the United States government, Steinberg served as director of the U.S. Department of State’s Joint Policy Council, White House deputy press secretary, National Security Council senior director for African Affairs, special Haiti coordinator, U.S. Ambassador to Angola, and the president’s special representative for Humanitarian Demining. He was also deputy … Continue reading

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Building a Culture of Literacy in Pakistan

Pakistan has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the world. In this interview with Vice President of Communications Kimberly Abbott, Dr. Meredith McCormac explains how World Learning is working on the ground to help build a culture of literacy in Pakistan. Dr. Meredith McCormac, World Learning’s country representative in Pakistan, is an international educationist with 10 years’ experience working globally on programs to improve educational access and quality. Meredith was awarded her Ph.D. in International Education Policy from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2012, after completing her dissertation work in Ethiopia on a U.S. Department of State Fulbright research grant. Meredith has worked with World Learning since 2010 in various capacities and countries including Pakistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Zambia, Liberia, Burma, Algeria, Peru, and the U.S.

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Development + Tech: A Perfect Union

Most people think of risks in terms of the potential costs of change. However Alex Dehgan, former chief scientist for the U.S. Agency for International Development, says when we do that we’re failing to ask the opposite, often more important, questions. What happens if we don’t take risks? How many lives will we fail to save? How many people will not be educated? “It takes risks, it actually takes change, to be able to save lives, to end AIDS, to train people, to address these big development challenges,” Dehgan said in his opening speech at the inaugural Lewy Global Development Technology Forum. Almost 100 people participated in the November 4 event in Washington, DC, which provided a hands-on exploration of how emerging technology can be used realistically and effectively to address the development and educational challenges facing our world today. … Continue reading

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Dalai Lama Holds Private Audience for SIT Students

Students studying Tibetan and Himalayan history and religion got the experience of a lifetime last week when they had a private audience with the Dalai Lama. The twenty students participating in SIT Study Abroad’s Nepal: Tibetan and Himalayan Peoples program, met with His Holiness during an educational excursion to Dharamsala, India, and discussed the importance of finding happiness within, employing secular ethics, and practicing compassion toward others. Explaining that he thinks of himself as “one being out of seven billion human beings,” the Dalai Lama said people are all essentially the same and want a “happy life and no more suffering.” However, he underscored that happiness can only come from within. “The ultimate source of happiness is not on money, not power, but within ourselves,” His Holiness said. He told the students that it is everyone’s responsibility to teach the next generation and … Continue reading

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The time for global STEM is now

World Learning President and CEO Donald Steinberg and Yahoo! Chairman Maynard Webb last night participated in a fireside chat on the role of technology in STEM innovation. The event was hosted by the New York Academy of Sciences, which recently launched the Global STEM Alliance to improve access to STEM education worldwide. Steinberg and Webb addressed a number of pressing issues in STEM including reforming education models, empowering people through technology, and making the field more inclusive. The two agreed that current educational models focus too heavily on rote memorization of facts and information. Steinberg said this leaves the world “ill-prepared” to deal with future economic, political, and social systems, which have become more innovative, democratic, and collaborative. He added that this occurs both in the classroom and in the workplace, where employees are often told to continue applying old … Continue reading

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Class is in Session

It’s fall, the weather is cooling down, leaves will start turning soon, and students are back in class. This semester more than 1,400 students are going back to school through World Learning programs. Students on SIT Study Abroad programs immerse themselves in other cultures and conduct original research in more than 30 countries. At SIT Graduate Institute in Vermont and Washington, DC, master’s degree candidates will prepare to be effective leaders, professionals, and citizens in intercultural and international environments. Through the Undergraduate Exchange Program (UGRAD), sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, college students from dozens of countries will spend a semester or a year at colleges and universities across the United States. High school students from Eurasia and from countries with significant Muslim populations will also spend a year in the United States through the State Department’s Future Leaders … Continue reading

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The Fantinis Celebrate 50 Years with a New SIT Scholarship

In 1954, Alvino Fantini received a scholarship to attend The Experiment in International Living in Mexico. “I was transformed totally,” he said. “All I wanted to do was come back.” Fantini did come back to The Experiment in 1963 to lead Experiment groups of his own. By that time, he had met his future wife, Bea, and the two soon settled in the Brattleboro area. Alvino became a language coordinator for the Peace Corps, which sent all of its volunteers to The Experiment for language training and orientation at the time. Bea, a native of Bolivia, graded Spanish tests for college-aged Experimenters taking six-credit language courses. The Experiment’s work with the Peace Corps led to the founding of SIT (then School for International Training) in 1964. Though SIT sought higher education accreditation, and the language training programs were taking off, … Continue reading

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Bringing Passion to Experience

This post originally appeared on the United States Council on Disabilities blog and is reposted here with permission. Read the original post. By Maegan Shanks Maegan Shanks is one of eight participants in the 2014 Youth in International Development and Affairs (YIDA) internship program.  She and other YIDA interns will be writing a series of blog posts about their experiences with the YIDA program this summer, to be posted at this blog.  USICD coordinates the YIDA internship program, which brings a cohort of students and recent graduates with disabilities to Washington, DC, each summer to complete internships at various international organizations in the Washington, DC, area. Maegan Shanks is completing her internship at World Learning. Learn more about the YIDA internship program at Read Maegan Shanks’ biography, and the biography of other YIDA interns in the summer 2014 program, at The views and opinions expressed at this blog … Continue reading

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Bringing it All Back Home, to Darfur

Mastora Bakhiet has not lived in the Darfur region of Sudan for nearly 20 years, but her thoughts are never far from the conflict there. Since 2007, Bakhiet, an alumna of SIT Graduate Institute’s Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation program, has directed Darfur Women Network, which provides relief and development support to Sudanese refugees. Though Darfur Women Network is a small, volunteer-run organization primarily managed by Sudanese-Americans living in the United States, Bakhiet believes they provide opportunities for refugees other larger organizations have overlooked. “There are so many organizations working on political advocacy for Darfur,” said Bakhiet, “but Darfur Women Network works directly with refugees and displaced people in Darfur.” By working directly with refugees, the network is able to provide the most important resources and services quickly. To do this, Bakhiet and her fellow volunteers leverage their personal connections with … Continue reading

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