Category Archives: Uncategorized

Having Faith in Faith

By Tara Sonenshine, Executive Director of World Learning’s Global Advisory Council This blog was originally posted on the Huffington Post. Faith is a noun, according to Webster’s dictionary. It means “a strong belief in God or the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.” But faith, according to the same dictionary, is not just a religious term. It also means “complete trust or confidence in someone or something.” Faith is a renewal of spirit in people, practices and institutions, and sadly, that has been on a downward trajectory in America for many decades. According to a recent Pew poll, millennials (folks between 18-years-old and 33-years-old) are “unmoored from institutions.” They are political independents (50 percent) with no religious affiliation (29 percent). Pew points out that these statistics “are at or near the highest levels of political … Continue reading

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SIT’s English Language Teacher Training & Professional Development Institute Returns Online

What do teachers want? Or, more importantly, what do they need? World Learning’s new online program for English language teachers attempts to answer that question, while giving teachers the tools they need to help their students learn. Designed with input from classroom teachers around the world, the Language Teacher Training & Professional Development Institute (TTI) will offer three six-week courses this coming February and March. The courses are intended to help teachers meet such common challenges as teaching grammar, working with young learners, and promoting learner literacy. For those who can’t make the February date, the same three courses will also be offered in May and October. Although its online-only presence is new, TTI was originally offered as a face-to-face program on SIT’s campus in Vermont, with some online courses. The new version responds to frequent requests for online offerings … Continue reading

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The Power of Collaboration in Southeast Asia

Nearly two-thirds of Southeast Asia’s population is under the age of 35. The region is undergoing rapid economic, political, and social change, and this next generation will need strong leadership skills to navigate the challenges associated with these changes and shape their countries’ futures. In 2013 President Barack Obama launched the Youth Southeast Asian Leadership Initiative (YSEALI) to support the region’s best young leaders. As part of these efforts World Learning organized the YSEALI Generation: Power of Collaboration conference in Myanmar (Burma) for 20 young leaders from 10 Southeast Asian countries in November. The three-day conference exposed participants to Myanmar’s unique development environment, where young people seek to take on greater leadership roles in their countries’ democratic transition. It included panel discussions, workshops, and meetings with members of civil society, technology start-ups, and government officials. The conference culminated in a … Continue reading

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From Mongolia to Senegal

In the post below, SIT Study Abroad alum Jedediah Fix (a graduate of Macalester College) describes his experiences on SIT’s program in Mongolia and his later work in Senegal with the Peace Corps and then the World Bank. SIT Study Abroad is a program of World Learning. This post was originally published on the SIT Study Abroad blog. By Jedediah Fix I arrived in Mongolia wearing sandals. It was February 2004 and I was a junior in college, eager for my first experience abroad. I was full of energy, curiosity, and the angst of being on the edge of something — but not knowing exactly what. Looking back on it, I was also predictably naïve. And not only in the sense that I brought sandals to a country where the temperature was regularly dropping to minus 30 degrees. SIT staff … Continue reading

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IT Training Program Helps Students Escape the Cycle of Crime and Poverty in Mexico

Monterrey is on the front lines of Mexico’s drug war, wracked by drugs and violence. Gangs prey on young people without many other economic opportunities and recruit them to traffic drugs. Luis Fernandez was heading down a dark path after he became involved with a local gang and started abusing drugs. However, he was able to turn his life around with the knowledge and skills he gained through World Learning’s IT and entrepreneurship training program, implemented in partnership with Cisco and USAID. Read the rest of his inspiring story. 

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Narratives: Phillip Dierking’s experience as a teacher training in Togo

World Learning recently began a series of talks called Narratives, which provides a forum for staff to share their experiences in international development. We’ll be chronicling some of their stories here on the NOW blog as well. Check back to learn more about the World Learning staff and their work. Phillip (Phil) Dierking is a Program Associate at World Learning. Philip Dierking’s journey as a teacher trainer in Africa began many years ago in his native Alaska. During his a high school years Habib Koite, a Malian singer, visited Phil’s hometown of Juneau. In Phil’s own words: “I don’t know who convinced him to go all the way to Alaska, but I am glad someone did.” It’s not hard to imagine how fascinating it must have been to see all these foreign instruments, music, dances, and culture that are so … Continue reading

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World Learning celebrates International Literacy Day

Today, September 8, is the International Literacy Day. According to UNESCO, “Literacy is a human right and the basis for lifelong learning. It empowers individuals, families and communities, and improves their quality of life. Because of its multiplier effect, literacy helps eradicate poverty, reduce child mortality, curb population growth, achieve gender equality and ensure sustainable development, peace and democracy.” This year’s theme for the International Literacy Day is “Literacy and Sustainable Development.” As an organization whose mission is to empower communities and individuals, we believe that literacy for all human beings is crucial to create a more prosperous, peaceful, and interconnected world in which sustainable development would not be a goal but a new norm. With over 16 percent of the world’s population still unable to read and write, there’s still a long road ahead to achieve this goal. In … Continue reading

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Connections Matter in Mexico’s Northern Border Region

This blog was originally published on Huffington Post Impact X: Read the original post. By Indre Biskis Monterrey, Mexico is a city split by a large river, but that is not the only divide. Deep economic and social gaps separate rich from poor, educated from uneducated, legal from illegal. The population was further split when a highway was constructed right through its city center, solidifying the already significant schism. Monterrey, the capital of the Nuevo Leon region, is a business-industrial city with a population over 1 million. In 2005, it was ranked as the safest city in Latin America and Mexico. However, since 2008, the city started experiencing violence related to turf battles between warring drug cartels, degrading a city with great economic potential to one full of fear. Drug use and high murder rates continue to steal the lives … Continue reading

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From Europe to the New World and back home again: A journey of an IVLP visitor in the US

By Liliana D. Cazacu, IVLP Participant A long time ago, I learned that people get a better understanding of their culture and country while traveling. My experience visiting and working in Europe taught me a great deal about my home country, Romania. But the time spent in the US during my IVLP trip, made me think more of the European Union, in a broader sense, as home. During my visit to US, I had three intense weeks and my advice to all future IVLP participants is to rest well before they go. Participants will need the energy as much as tennis champion Simona Halep needs her racquet. The journey led my colleagues, from another 14 countries, and I through a whirlwind of events, meetings, and cultural experiences. I found out that the American people are friendly and relaxed, not only … Continue reading

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The former homeless child who now helps run the organization that offered him a fresh start

At the age of 12, António da Silva was living on the streets of the city of Huambo in Angola. He was one of the countless numbers of children left without homes, families, or education after 25 years of civil war. It was an organization called OKUTIUKA that finally provided him with a home that he had needed for so many years, and the chance of a fresh start in life that he would not otherwise have had. Now at the age 26, António works for OKUTIUKA as its financial administrator. OKUTIUKA was founded by Huambo resident, Sónia Ferreira, who could not bear to see the daily misery of children living on the streets. By her efforts and determination, Sónia transformed a derelict factory into a welcome center for homeless children, which she named OKUTIUKA. Over the years she has … Continue reading

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