World Learning

Publication Date

Spring 2000


This first issue of The SIT Occasional Papers Series hardly resembles most publications of its type. Describing our institution, an idea proposed by Tidiane Gadio, a member of the original Editorial Board, turned out to be a far weightier task than expected. Nonetheless, it proved to be an interesting way to help staff and faculty from the various departments of World Learning, as well as our constituencies, gain a comprehensive view of this fascinating organization, to learn about all of its parts, and to tell our story like it has never been told before — to ourselves and to others. World Learning is a difficult organization to grasp, due to its many divisions, as well as its continually changing nature. In fact, a defining characteristic of the institution has always been its ability to adapt readily in response to changing conditions and needs throughout the world. For me, as an Experimenter to Mexico in 1954, a frequent leader of both summer abroad and college semester abroad programs, and an employee of the institution for more than 35 years, pulling this issue together gave special satisfaction. It not only brought together all of the components of the institution I love, but it allowed me to learn more about its current array of fascinating activities. Even more importantly, I felt a renewed sense of awe of its vision and mission, reflected so well throughout all of the articles assembled here (written collaboratively by 28 staff members). I hope the same will prove true for those who read this issue. World Learning is truly a one-of-a-kind institution. This becomes clear as one reads about its activities and the principles on which they are based. That other institutions have imitated programs and activities initiated by World Learning is a testament to their value and effectiveness. World Learning will continue to innovate and provide transformational experiences as long as it is responsive to the world’s ever-changing needs in its own creative, dynamic, and interculturally sensitive way, keeping true to its mission. It is important, then, to reaffirm what is most distinctive about World Learning, and to continue to build upon these unique qualities. The path into the future is directly linked with the past because of these shared qualities and values. Importantly, World Learning continues to form part of the Federation of The Experiment in International Living. This worldwide connection ensures the possibility of working collaboratively with partners around the globe, so that our activities abroad always take place on the host culture’s terms. It is through this provocative intercultural contact and collaboration of differing perspectives and experiences that significant life-changing results are produced. In the process, we all learn more about ourselves and about others, promoting the development of intercultural competencies so necessary in the world today.