World Learning

Publication Date

Winter 2003


World Learning first entered the intercultural field as a nongovernmental organization in the early 1930s under the name The Experiment in International Living (EIL). The Experiment, as it was known for many years, engaged primarily in intercultural educational exchange programs. By the 1950s, however, EIL initiated its first academic mobility programs in cooperation with various universities at a time when most did not yet conduct their own overseas programs. In the 1960s, the development of an academic unit, the School for International Training (SIT), helped expand the organization’s education efforts to include students enrolled in various degree-granting programs, further extending World Learning’s network of institutional affiliates and educational opportunities around the world. In that same decade, World Learning also actively entered the field of international development as a natural evolution of its originally stated purposes based on a vision of world harmony. Today, World Learning is both an educational institution and an international nongovernmental organization (NGO), unique in its ability to bring together both theory and practice in all areas. Through its Projects in International Development and Training (PIDT) division in Washington, D.C., World Learning conducts projects in six areas of competence: democracy and governance, education, training and exchange, institutional capacity building, societies in transition, and women’s leadership. In all of these efforts, the focus is on strengthening the capacity of local populations to manage themselves, to design programs that address the needs of their constituencies, to advocate on behalf of their issues and interests, and to ensure sustainability. In other words, all projects are designed to result in meaningful and durable impact in the development of families, communities, and nations. This issue addresses one such effort, sponsored a PIDT project in Guatemala known as PAEBI (Proyecto Acceso a la Educación Bilingüe Intercultural) or Project Access to Bilingual Intercultural Education. As an important educational dimension of this effort, PAEBI, with funding support from USAID, held a Hemispheric Conference on Indigenous Education in Guatemala City in July 2001. Over 700 individuals, mostly indigenous educators and practitioners from all over the Americas — from Canada to Chile — attended this important event to exchange ideas and experiences in hopes of improving bilingual intercultural programs for minority ethnic and linguistic groups in their own countries. ix The articles in this special issue of the SIT Occasional Papers Series — the first to be published in a language other than English — were chosen to represent the wide array of issues discussed at the Feria Hemisférica. First, Julio Ramírez, PAEBI Project Director, provides some context to the Conference with an overview of the Project itself. José Ángel Zapeta, Feria Coordinator, follows with an overview of the Conference itself — its purposes, plan, and implementation. The articles that follow were adapted from “ponencias” or presentations at the Conference and are divided into three sections — the State of Indigenous Education in the Americas, Culture and Curriculum, and the Future of Indigenous Peoples. However, to give the reader a more complete idea of the richness of Feria presentations, abstracts of other “ponencias” are included in a fourth section. The fifth and final section, “Other Items of Interest,” provides the reader with various related items. These include information about the authors, selected publications on Bilingual Intercultural Education, information about the parent organization World Learning and its worldwide activities, publications about World Learning, and relevant Website information. For educators, administrators, and students interested in bilingual intercultural education, the education of indigenous peoples (and other minority groups) in the Americas, and the power and potential of appropriate quality educational experiences for all people everywhere, we offer this issue in the hope that it will provide useful insights of relevance to their own work. It is in the spirit of learning from what we do and sharing what we learn that we present this special focus issue.