Category Archives: Field Notes

Seeds of Change

Gretchen Powers is a photographer, documentary filmmaker, and alumna of SIT Nepal: Development and Social Change. During her independent study project, Powers filmed “Seeds of Change,” a documentary about apple growers in the Kali Gandaki River Valley of Nepal. Purna’s brown weathered hand offered me a bright yellow apple.  Kept for five months in cold storage below her guesthouse in the foothills of the Himalayas, the apple still felt firm and tasted completely fresh.  It was a little drier and had a tougher skin than the apples that I grew up with back in Vermont, but it was an apple just the same.  Purna had just finished an on-camera interview with me for a short documentary film I was working on, sharing her story of the changes that were occurring due to the new bi-pass road that had been constructed … Continue reading

Posted in Asia, Environment, Field Notes, Film, Photography, SIT Study Abroad, Sustainability, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

[Video] Window on Oaxaca

In January of each year, SIT Graduate Institute offers optional field courses in different locations around the world. These intensive field courses provide students with experiential learning opportunities in the US and abroad through interaction with practitioners in the field, organization and project site visits, and professional networking. This year, in addition to courses in India, Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados, eight students traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico, the ideal location for a two-week intercultural communication course. “It’s a very vibrant community, that speaks to the kind of work that we’re doing here in terms of social justice and caring about people from other cultures,” said Karen Blanchard, who lead the course. Watch our documentary of the course below.

Posted in Advocacy, Education, Field Notes, International Education, SIT Graduate Institute, Women and Girls | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Experiment in Focus: An Echoing Impact

Connie Xu was an Experimenter to Switzerland last summer. My favorite place in Switzerland was the Motel des Sports, the charming four-star hotel we called home during our stay in Martigny. Apart from its comfortable lodgings and decadent dinners, what fascinated me most about the motel was its location: directly across a soccer field and beach volleyball court, and a few blocks away from an abandoned Roman amphitheater. Whenever I think of the word “amphitheater,” I picture the Colosseum, bathing in all its former glory in spite of its deteriorated facade. Since I had never visited an amphitheater before, I roiled over in excitement when our leader Lynn decided to take us there after our last group dinner. I had no idea what to expect, but I imagined the amphitheater to be an exact replica of the Colosseum – the … Continue reading

Posted in Experiment in International Living, Field Notes, Homestay, International Education, The Experiment in Focus, Theatre, Uncategorized, Youth | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

iPACE in Burma Goes on the Road with First-Ever ‘Mobile Trainings’

Between November 9 and 23, World Learning’s Institute for Political and Civic Engagement (iPACE) in Burma (Myanmar) launched short-term, “mobile trainings” outside Yangon for the first time since the institute’s establishment one year ago. The short-term courses were implemented in partnership with local non-governmental organization, Environmental Conservation and Community Development Society (ECODS) based in Chin State in northern Burma.  ECODS led the efforts through a grant from the U.S. Embassy’s Small Grants Program and with support from iPACE. This is the first time iPACE has offered its courses outside Yangon—a critical first step in addressing an increasing demand for civic education as the country progresses towards democratic transition. iPACE course instructors, Thu Ryain Shwe and Pau Sian Lian traveled to Chin State, working side-by-side with ECODS to introduce the institute’s Federalism and Strategic Planning for Change courses.  iPACE also offered … Continue reading

Posted in Advocacy, Burma, Civil Society/Institutional Strengthening, Field Notes, Global Citizenship, IPACE, Myanmar | Leave a comment

USAID Officials Attend Cisco Networking Academy Graduation

Participants in the Cisco Networking Academy at CBTIS99 high school in Monterrey, Mexico, had some special guests at their graduation ceremony earlier this summer, a delegation from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) that included Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean Elizabeth Hogan, Mexico Mission Director Tom Delaney, and other staff. The graduation honored 83 participants who completed the first round of Cisco’s information communication technology (ICT) and entrepreneurship training at CBTIS99. The school is one of four public high schools in the northern border region of Mexico participating in the pilot USAID/Mexico: Technology and Entrepreneurship Skills Development Program Associate Award, which establishes Cisco Networking Academies to provide training for high school students, their immediate families, and other members of the community. The program aims to build the ICT and entrepreneurship skills base in northern … Continue reading

Posted in Education, Event, Field Notes, Global Citizenship, International Development, USAID | Leave a comment

Creating One Sustainable Path to Food Security in Nepal

Judson Peck is a 2009 alumnus of SIT Study Abroad Nepal: Development and Social Change and a recent recipient of the Alice Rowan Swanson Fellowship. Waking in the freezing Himalayan dawn to climb to a barren 12,000-foot airstrip, I waited hours for the only cargo helicopter in Nepal. Frustrated and discouraged after three days of waiting in the freezing cold while yaks grazed, I learned that the helicopter was dropping food aid in western Nepal instead. Ironically, I was waiting for materials to build greenhouses, which would enable families to grow their own food, rather than depend on foreign aid. The goal of my Alice Rowan Swanson Fellowship was to design and build an inexpensive greenhouse prototype to provide economically accessible technology to the local people and create one sustainable path to food security. Greenhouses capture solar energy and extend … Continue reading

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School-Community Partnerships for a Better Tomorrow

Nearly one million children in Ethiopia are affected by the AIDS epidemic. Through the School-Community Partnership Serving HIV-Affected Orphans and Vulnerable Children (SCOPSO) program, World Learning has provided comprehensive care and support for at least 52,000 children in need across the country. Sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the US Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the program also empowers schools and communities to improve the wellbeing of children affected by HIV/AIDS and lessen the local impact of the AIDS epidemic. World Learning is in the process of completing a documentary about the program, which showcases some of the students who benefit from the program and hard-working staff who make it possible. We’ll be posting the new video soon. In the meantime get an overview of the SCOPSO program by watching this short video … Continue reading

Posted in Africa, Education, Ethiopia, Field Notes, Film, HIV/AIDS, International Development, NGOs, Video, Youth | 1 Comment

Scene and Heard: A Mongolian Singer and Herder

On Fridays we add another chapter to our “Scene and Heard” series, where we invite World Learning participants, students, staff and alumni to share stories in new and different ways. Dimitri Staszewski is a recording engineer and student on the  SIT Study Abroad Mongolia: Geopolitics and the Environment program this semester. Staszewski sent this field recording of a song by a man named Tseveng who lives in the host community where Staszewski and his SIT group stayed this semester. Read more about the recording below the video, or learn more about Staszewski’s experience in Mongolia and subscribe to his blog at During a 12-day-stay with a nomadic family in Mongolia, I was introduced to Tseveng, a member the same community of herders that I was staying with. He is known in the community for singing traditional Mongolian folk songs. … Continue reading

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Empowering At-Risk Youth in Jamaica

Blanka Homolova, director of HIV/AIDS programs at World Learning, recently traveled to Jamaica to visit the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Grants Solicitation and Management Program (C-GSM), which focuses on strengthening the capacity of local organizations working with populations at most risk for HIV. As a part of the C-GSM program, World Learning manages small grants on behalf of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Children First is one of these beneficiary organizations and promotes HIV prevention and empowerment in vulnerable communities through work with at-risk youth and health care and support workers. The organization implements remedial education and vocational and skills training in Spanish Town to improve employment opportunities for populations vulnerable to contracting HIV due to their socioeconomic circumstances. Blanka visited one of the programs, which trains young people in cosmetology and barbering, and shared these photos.

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The Experiment in Focus: Tanzania

Zachary Halaschak spent his summer traveling with the Experiment to Tanzania. Like many Experimenters, Halaschak was most nervous about living with a Tanzanian family that spoke no English. Yet during his first night in the village of Stahabu, his Tanzanian host parents gave up their bed so that Halaschak would feel more at home. “This was just the first of many, many selfless acts of kindness I was shown while in Tanzania,” said Halaschak. In a matter of days, Halaschak not only felt like a member of the family, but a member of the community. Learn more about Halaschak’s homestay experiences in Stahabu, and in a Maasai village north of Arusha in the video below.

Posted in Experiment in International Living, Field Notes, The Experiment in Focus, Video | Leave a comment