The past year brought a welcome opportunity to celebrate our 90th anniversary and reflect on the vision that built The Experiment in International Living and later created World Learning and School for International Training (SIT).
But it was not a time to rest.
In 1932, confronting a world scarred by conflict, rising authoritarianism, and a devastating economic depression, our founder Dr. Donald Watt was inspired to launch an “experiment in international living.”
In 2022, we faced another set of critical global issues. Conflict, economic uncertainty, extremism, health and climate crises all were stark reminders of the important role our institution continues to play in strengthening changemakers, communities, and systems capable of responding to these challenges. Today, with nine decades of experience, we have the rock-solid foundation we need to build forward toward a brighter future.
Our core values—community, social inclusion and justice, intercultural understanding, and sustainability—are a window into our culture and organizational behavior. They are deeply ingrained principles that drive decision-making and are reflected in how we do our work and fulfill our mission. Our milestone of 90 years was an opportunity to reflect on how far we have come and where we need to build moving forward. This year, we welcomed a new chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer who will further strengthen our ongoing commitment in this area across our global programs and operations.
This summer, there was an inspiring spirit of collaboration and community as we gathered on our Vermont campus to honor new SIT master’s degree graduates and to celebrate our 61-year history with Peace Corps as one of the first institutions in the country to train outbound Peace Corps volunteers. U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, Peace Corps CEO Carol Spahn, and a representative from U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy’s office were among the speakers who highlighted World Learning and SIT at its absolute best.
This same spirit was there as we welcomed more than 100 Afghan refugees to our SIT university campus this year as part of a landmark resettlement effort. Arriving after a wrenching emergency evacuation from their homeland, the Afghans found a safe place to get to know one another and begin to create a community. Building on our historic work with Hungarian refugees in 1956 and south Asian refugees in 1978, we joined with the Ethiopian Community Development Council and Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (organizations both staffed by SIT alumni), to offer these new Vermonters temporary housing and English and cultural orientation classes to build the skills they need to face the challenges of life in a new country.
This pilot collaboration is rapidly becoming a national model for refugee resettlement. A U.S. Department of State delegation of immigration professionals from Central and South America, part of World Learning’s International Visitors Leadership Program, even traveled to Vermont to learn more about it.
Our work with refugees is an example of the way World Learning and SIT continue to forge innovative responses to the world’s most critical global issues. At the same time, we remain true to Dr. Watt’s founding principles—to learn to live together by living together; to go to learn, not to teach—which inspire us to build forward with creativity, humility, and inclusion.
This report highlights some of the work we do every day to build knowledge, skills, capacity, and community—fulfilling the vision that took shape 90 years ago. It has been an honor and a privilege for us to be part of our mission to create a more sustainable, peaceful, and just world. But it would not be possible without you.
Thank you for your support and for your continued partnership as we build forward, stronger together.
CEO, World Learning Inc.
Dr. Sophia Howlett
President, School for International Training
Board Chair, World Learning Inc.
World Learning CEO Carol Jenkins speaks about what keeps World Learning “moving and advancing over 90 years.”
SIT President Dr. Sophia Howlett talks about our shared history with the Peace Corps and how SIT puts theory into practice.