Exploring Displacement and Colonization Through Cultural Exchange

“This piece is not for you. This is an unapologetic grasp for identity.”

So begins a new multimedia artistic work born out of an international exchange program called Digital Natives, which brought together a group of young Native American artists and those from African migrant communities in Belgium.

Last month, the eight artists gathered on a Native American reservation in New Mexico where, through workshops with artist-mentors, they explored how their displacement affects their cultures and identities. Those workshops culminated in the creative work titled Feeling Everything All at Once, which expresses their multiculturalism as well as the generational trauma they’ve inherited from their ancestors who were colonized and forced from their homes.

“We didn’t want to make a video that was talking about the past the whole time,” says Oriana Mangala Ikomo Wanga, a 21-year-old musician. Her parents came to Belgium from the country’s former colony, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, where they experienced traumas of which they still cannot speak. Ikomo Wanga believes it’s important for her generation to talk about those traumas, but she says, “We really wanted to make something contemporary that talks about how we feel now.”

The Digital Natives group exploring the National Mall in Washington, DC.

Digital Natives is part of Communities Connecting Heritage (CCH), a program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. government and administered by World Learning. CCH engages underserved communities, empowers youth, and builds global partnerships through exchange projects exploring cultural heritage topics. Participating organizations and individuals partner up and submit proposals; selected partnerships receive funding and undergo a World Learning training course designed to help them manage the exchange.

For this exchange, CCH brought together Soul of Nations, an organization established to uplift displaced Indigenous communities throughout the Americas, and BOZAR, a distinguished international cultural center based in Brussels, Belgium. The organizations recruited Native American participants from the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and young people from African migrant communities in Brussels.

“It’s important to connect minority communities with other minority communities or Indigenous communities because they’re undervalued, underheard, and underserved,” says Soul of Nations Executive Director Ernest Hill. “[This exchange is] an alliance built on peace and unity.”

Digital Natives participant Gregory Ballenger shared a work of art that he created for the Congressional Exhibition Project. The piece represents his exploration as an Indigenous person and his decision to decolonize himself.

The exchange started virtually. In their first Skype session in October, each of the U.S. and Belgian participants shared an object with cultural, personal, or artistic significance. Gregory Ballenger, a student from IAIA, shared a traditional rug that he wove with his mother, a Navajo fashion designer. As Ballenger explained to his peers, his family had encouraged him to leave the reservation and pursue other opportunities. But being part of his colonizers’ culture made Ballenger realize he identifies more with the values of his own. Weaving the rug was an opportunity to reconnect with his roots.

“I look at that rug as a constant reminder of … how difficult it is to be a young Indigenous person who has been disconnected from his culture,” he says. “Weaving is not a man’s art — I shouldn’t be weaving in the first place, culturally — but that is one of the only ways that I have access to traditional art.”

After their virtual introduction, the students met in person on a reservation near Santa Fe, where they took part in workshops with professional artists, created a print together using their own inked fingertips, and, through group discussions, shared their experiences with feeling displaced, alienated, and silenced by colonialism.

“We started to notice similarities and holes in our understanding of ourselves and how the lines of our identity become very, very muddy in the 21st century because we’re displaced from our original ancestral lands where we’ve lost languages, we’ve lost cultural teachings,” Ballenger says.

Ikomo Wanga agrees. This exchange program taught her that colonization looks similar no matter where it is carried out. She also noticed connections between African and Native American cultures, from the colors they use in their artwork to the importance of rhythm and music. “It was super mind-opening,” she says.

Those discussions fueled the multimedia project, which the group emphasizes is a personal account of the complexities they face as 21st-century displaced people — it is not meant to speak for their entire communities. In it, they assert their rights to their language and their lands, while describing the grief and uncertainty that comes with trying to bridge their native culture with that of their colonizers.

U.S. Senator Tom Udall from New Mexico.

The artwork has already received recognition. On November 14, it was screened at a reception in Washington, DC, hosted by U.S. Senator Tom Udall from New Mexico as part of the Congressional Exhibition Project showcasing emerging Native American contemporary artists. It will premiere internationally in May when the U.S. students travel to Brussels to take part of BOZAR’s Next Generation, Please! festival. In the meantime, the exchange program will continue through virtual discussions and workshops.

Ikomo Wanga hopes the multimedia project will build awareness about the experience of being displaced from one’s culture and homeland.

“I would like to make people aware of what is happening still and that the past is not in the past,” she says. “It still has repercussions on us now.”

Communities Connecting Heritage Program Kicks Off Its Second Year

A man in colorful traditional Indian dress speaks while holding an instrument as two women look on.After the Communities Connecting Heritage (CCH) exchange program’s successful first year, World Learning is pleased to announce the five new cultural heritage projects that will receive funding in its second cycle. CCH, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by World Learning, empowers youth to protect the cultural heritage of underserved communities around the world.

“Exchanges that connect and engage people from different communities are more valuable than ever,” said Christina Thomas, World Learning’s divisional vice president for youth exchange. “The Communities Connecting Heritage program offers an opportunity to do this in unique and creative ways, both at home in the U.S. and abroad. World Learning is thrilled to implement the second iteration of these cultural heritage projects and to be a part of this exciting and diverse community.”

Through virtual and in-person exchanges and exhibitions, the program supports new partnerships between U.S. and international cultural organizations and the communities they serve. CCH specifically helps these communities preserve their tangible and intangible cultural heritage, reinforce positive narratives, and advance cultural heritage through community outreach and public education.

The projects will be carried out among five U.S. organizations and five international organizations. Each organization was matched with an overseas counterpart during initial training and has been collaborating to develop engaging cultural heritage projects. The following five projects will be implemented in the next 12 months:

  • Mandala Theater (Nepal) and Creative Connections (Connecticut)
    Kalasanskriti ra Sampada: An Artistic Approach to Preserving Cultural Heritage and Community Healing will engage 30 youth from Nepal and the U.S. to capture and exchange art, audio, and video exploring their own cultural heritage, which they will use to facilitate workshops at local schools.
  • Bhasha Research and Publication Center (India) and University of Northern Colorado Anthropology Department (Colorado)
    Reclaiming Heritage: The Intercultural Heritage Exchange Project
    will train up to 30 participants from the historically marginalized Chhara community in India and the Karenni refugee community in the U.S. to use virtual reality technologies to explore and document their respective cultural heritages, including family and spiritual traditions, festivals, performances, and natural heritage.
  • Youth of Osh (Kyrgyzstan) and New York Folklore Society (New York)
    Cultural Bridge
    will challenge up to 30 youth to discover Kyrgyz and American cultural heritage by learning about oral history and cultural heritage documentation and contribute to preservation efforts by doing community service, producing media, and installing signage to support the cultural tourism industry.
  • Association MakeDox (Macedonia) and Dallas Black Dance Theater (Texas)
    Widening the Lens
    will engage 12 African-American dancers and 12 Macedonian filmmakers to create a documentary exploring and celebrating African-American culture through dance and Romani heritage through music.
  • Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels (BOZAR) (Belgium) and Soul of Nations (Washington, D.C./Navajo Nation, Arizona)
    Digital Natives
    will engage 10 young Native-American women from New Mexico and 10 young Belgian women from migrant families to create group artworks and video installations, exploring equality and women’s empowerment through the lens of personal narratives and cultural backgrounds.

The 10 organizations will now receive additional training on topics such as virtual exchange, experiential education, and participant care to prepare them to carry out their projects. The virtual exchanges will commence in fall 2018, leading up to the in-person exchanges and public exhibitions throughout the spring and summer of 2019.

About ECA
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs moves people to move ideas. ECA builds relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries through academic, cultural, sports, and professional exchanges, as well as public-private partnerships. The State Department’s cultural diplomacy programs employ the arts to advance U.S foreign policy by sharing America’s artistic excellence, demonstrating America’s respect for other cultures, creating international networks, and deepening trust. www.eca.state.gov

Contact: [email protected]

About World Learning
World Learning works globally to enhance the capacity and commitment of individuals, institutions, and communities to create a more peaceful and just world through education, sustainable development, and exchange. Our programs advance leadership in more than 150 countries.

These Young Deaf Artists Have a Message For the Hearing World

A group of nine young artists from Belgium and the United States is out to prove that Deafness isn’t a disability but rather a cultural heritage — one that crosses international borders and defies the boundaries of language.

This week, the nine members of Connecting Capitals will debut their artwork at the Next Generation, Please! festival in Brussels. The project, which is so named as it is a collaboration between a young people in the Belgian capital city and Washington, DC, uses multimedia and innovative performance art techniques to promote understanding of Deaf culture.

Connecting Capitals was one of 10 projects selected for the Next Generation, Please! festival. Hosted by BOZAR, a distinguished international cultural center, the festival explores the future of Europe through the eyes of its youth. Connecting Capitals will examine Deaf identity, seeking to build bridges not only between Deaf communities in Europe and the U.S., but between the Deaf world and the hearing world.

“I want hearing people to know that deaf people have a global Deaf community,” signs Bram Jonnaert, 23, one of the Belgian members of the group. He learned about the richness of that community himself in recent months through the international exchange program that sparked Connecting Capitals.

A cultural exchange begins

Connecting Capitals was formed earlier this year with a grant from World Learning’s Communities Connecting Heritage program, which matches up cultural institutions from around the world to collaborate on projects through virtual and in-person exchanges. BOZAR was paired with Gallaudet University, the world’s only Deaf university, located in Washington, DC.

Group shot of the Connecting Capitals and their partners.

“I could not be happier to be working with Gallaudet and BOZAR in this new way for a project that explores the intersections of Deaf history, culture, and civil rights,” says World Learning Program Manager Deanna Wertheimer. “World Learning is proud to be an ally in raising awareness and moving the positive narrative of Deaf culture forward through Communities Connecting Heritage.”

In January, BOZAR and Gallaudet gathered their young participants — many of them college students or recent graduates — at their respective headquarters in Brussels and DC for a weekly series of virtual icebreakers and workshops to begin planning their project. They finally met in person last month when the Belgian contingent traveled to DC for a week of project development.

Many international exchange programs are not accessible to the Deaf community, so this was a particularly unique opportunity. “I was so excited to meet deaf Americans,” signs Alice Leidensdorf, 26, a participant from Belgium.

The group quickly figured out how to bridge the seven languages among them — International Sign Language; American, Flemish, and French Belgian sign languages; and the three spoken languages — and even teach each other new signs. They also discovered they shared some of the same experiences; many had grown up struggling to communicate in a hearing family.

Joseph Antonio (far right) shares how Connecting Capitals is building bridges between the Deaf world and the hearing world.

“I believed that I was wrong, that I was just a broken hearing person who needed to get my basic needs met,” signs Joseph Antonio, 30, a communications studies major at Gallaudet. “I didn’t realize that I deserved anything more.”

Those experiences are at the heart of the project that Connecting Capitals will debut in Brussels this week. “I’d love to see that the artwork, the festival that we do at BOZAR, will be able to show that deaf people have common experiences, common fears, common feelings,” Jonnaert signs.

Sharing Deaf heritage through art

With the support of Gallaudet’s Motion Light Lab, Connecting Capitals has taken an innovative approach to communicating their experiences to an audience of both hearing and deaf people.

One element of that approach is a digital coffee table book. Intended as a guide to Deaf culture, the book features interviews and videos the participants have created about their own lives and how they have learned to express themselves. The app — which will be available on iTunes and accessible in several spoken languages — also includes interactive lessons in four different sign languages.

The Connecting Capitals wrote this Letter to the Future, inspired by the Deaf President Now protests of 1988.

Connecting Capitals also explores the changes society can make to support Deaf culture. Together, the group composed a Letter to the Future inspired by the Deaf President Now protests of 1988, which took place when a hearing woman was appointed president of Gallaudet over more qualified deaf candidates. “Now that we’re in 2018, we are still working for that equality,” signs Melissa Malzkuhn, founder and creative director of the Motion Light Lab and one of the project leaders.

In their letter, these young participants outlined not only the obstacles they face in their everyday lives, but also their vision for a more inclusive society, writing, “Being deaf in a world that has failed to understand our culture and our sign languages…is why we demand self-representation, equal access to sign language, and the eradication of systemic audism.”

To underscore the importance of this message, Connecting Capitals produced a film using a unique and theatrical art form known as visual vernacular, which they learned in a workshop with storyteller and Gallaudet professor Ben Bahan. This storytelling method incorporates sign languages, body movements, and advanced gestural techniques to convey ideas and emotions. Even a slightly different facial expression can change one’s meaning in visual vernacular.

“It’s poetry,” Antonio says. He adds that while hearing people might need to work to decipher meanings, “every deaf person understands visual vernacular.”

In the film, Connecting Capitals interprets their Letter to the Future through a story about the universal struggles that deaf people face. It begins depicting Leidensdorf, Jonnaert, and Antonio as caterpillars trying to make their way in a world that doesn’t understand them and denies them access even to their own culture. But, together, the caterpillars learn to climb a tree, spin cocoons, and transform into butterflies — insects which are, not coincidentally, deaf.

These young Belgians and Americans hope their work will not only show the hearing world that Deaf heritage exists — and is robust — but it will also prove to the next generation of deaf youth that they, too, can be artists. And while obstacles may continue to emerge, Jonnaert says he hopes the project will help the Deaf community break through barriers. “This is the start of a path; it’s not the end of it,” he says. “I already know that’s going to be our journey.”

New Projects Celebrate Cultural Heritage Through Exchanges

World Learning and the U.S. Department of State are pleased to announce the selection of six new cultural heritage projects to receive funding as part of its Communities Connecting HeritageSM exchange program (CCH). CCH, a State Department initiative administered by World Learning, empowers youth to protect the cultural heritage of at-risk communities around the world.

“World Learning is thrilled to support projects that celebrate diversity and foster mutual understanding through Communities Connecting Heritage,” said Lisa Posner, World Learning’s vice president for Global Exchange. “This program will also help build new global bonds to improve overall cooperation and collaboration between the US and communities in key areas of the world.”

Through virtual and in-person exchanges and exhibitions, the program supports new partnerships between U.S. and foreign cultural organizations and the communities they serve. CCH specifically helps these communities preserve their tangible and intangible cultural heritage, reinforce positive messages, and advance cultural heritage through community outreach and public education.

The projects will be carried out among six U.S. organizations from four U.S. states and Washington, D.C., and six international organizations from five countries. Each organization was matched with an overseas counterpart during initial training and has been collaborating to develop engaging cultural heritage projects. The following six projects were just selected for funding in 2017:

  • The Creative Economy Group (Serbia) and Global Ties Akron (Ohio)
    Global Threads will train up to 20 university students as citizen journalists to capture the stories of artists in their communities and use that content to launch an online publication and Food/Art Expos in both countries.
  • The Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels (BOZAR; Belgium) and Gallaudet University (Washington, D.C.)
    Connecting Capitals will connect to empower up to 20 Deaf youth from the U.S. and Belgium, advocating for them to become more engaged citizens through a deeper understanding of their respective Deaf heritages.
  • Cultural Heritage without Borders (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and the Cultural Heritage Alliance (Maryland)
    Saving What Matters will train up to 10 university students in the skills of digital storytelling and show them how cultural heritage preservation can be used as a tool in community development projects on a local, regional, and international scale.
  • Athar Lina (Egypt) and Avenue 50 Studio (California)
    Through Walls: A Heritage Dialogue will empower up to 10 young female artists, enlisting them in the creation of two murals celebrating the heritage of specific neighborhoods in both Los Angeles and in Cairo.
  • Khoj International Artists Association (India) and Global 1-to-1 (New Mexico)
    Voices from the Margins will connect up to 12 at-risk youth and provide opportunities for them to explore the role of their traditional languages in cultural expression, especially in music and poetry. Together, they’ll create a music video reflecting what they’ve learned.
  • Contact Base (India) and the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (Washington, D.C.)
    Learning Together Toward a Brighter the Future will challenge up to 20 U.S. university students from disadvantaged backgrounds and 20 traditional artists and underserved youth from India to explore community-based cultural enterprise and heritage preservation through storytelling and folk music. The project will culminate in broad-reaching public exhibitions in each country.

The twelve organizations will now receive additional training on projects. The virtual exchanges will commence in early 2018, leading up to the in-person exchanges and public exhibitions in the spring and summer of 2018.

About ECA

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs moves people to move ideas.  ECA builds relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries through academic, cultural, sports, and professional exchanges, as well as public-private partnerships. The State Department’s cultural diplomacy programs employ the arts to advance U.S foreign policy by sharing America’s artistic excellence, demonstrating America’s respect for other cultures, creating international networks, and deepening trust. www.eca.state.gov
Contact: [email protected]

About World LearningWorld Learning is a nonprofit organization empowering people and strengthening institutions through education, sustainable development, and exchange programs in more than 60 countries.

Alumni Thematic International Exchange Seminars

Participant Profile

Participants are alumni of U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs and vary in age and level of expertise, but all will be engaged in the seminar topic and highly motivated to create change in their communities.

Please consult the list of U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs below.

Participant Selection

Alumni TIES participants who are not U.S. citizens are nominated by the U.S. Embassies or Consulates in their countries. Please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country to learn how you can participate in Alumni TIES. Potential Alumni TIES participants who are living in the United States can apply for specific seminars managed by World Learning. The web link to the online application will be distributed widely by the Office of Alumni Affairs of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

All participants for Alumni TIES seminars are selected by the U.S. Department of State.

Program Design

Alumni TIES seminars take place in six world regions and the U.S.; each seminar is three to four days for small groups of alumni. The seminars include speakers, capacity development trainings, and alumni networking activities. Through the small grants initiative, alumni have the opportunity to take action and make a positive difference in their communities.

Learn More

Watch more videos about the Alumni TIES program.

Read stories from past participants about their experiences at the seminars or with their small grant projects on the Alumni TIES blog.

For information on programs for U.S. government-sponsored exchange program alumni visit the International Exchange Alumni website.

Alumni TIES is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and supported in its implementation by World Learning, in partnership with the Office of Alumni Affairs of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA).  

Communities Connecting Heritage

Communities Connecting HeritageSM  Program Impact


CCH Alumni Small Grants

At the conclusion of the program’s third year, the CCH team opened the Communities Connecting Heritage Small Grants to organizational and community member alumni from all three CCH cycles. The following projects were selected for CCH Small Grant implementation.

Kristina Llane (Albania)
Title of Project: Beekeeping Tradition as and Educative Tool

This project aims to preserve and share the importance of local beekeeping traditions in the Gjirokastra community of Albania. Kristina will work with elementary school students to cultivate youth interest in beekeeping’s cultural role in their community. Throughout the project, students and teachers will contribute to an educational book on beekeeping to that will equip teachers to continue sharing with future classrooms. The project will conclude with a panel discussion focused on protecting and preserving culture, tradition, and the environment in Albania.

Kalpana Gagdekar (India)
Title of Project: Connecting Community with Their Traditional/Heritage Cuisine

This project will explore and document the Chhara community’s traditional cuisines, which are experiencing a disappearing effect under modern global influences. Kalpana aims to document the rituals and heritage of Chhara cuisine through seven video interviews with Chhara women elders. The project combines modern technology with traditional food heritage and welcomes Chhara members of all ages to reclaim and rediscover their own heritage.

Mandala Theatre (Nepal) and Creative Connections (Connecticut, U.S.)
Title of Project: Hamro Sanskriti: Preserving Cultural Heritage through Participatory Theatre

The goal of this project is to provide youth in Connecticut and Nepal with a deeper connection to their own culture through student-led virtual workshops. The workshops – spearheaded by theater trainers in Nepal and Connecticut – will teach participatory theater techniques to 250 high school students and conclude with a model forum theater piece produced by students for the public.

Athar Lina (Egypt)
Title of Project: Rawya: The Water Women

Rawya: The Water Women is a Cairo-based project aimed at restoring the historically significant Sabil Um Abbas, a 19th century religious building and gathering place, into a usable community space once more. In addition to restoring aspects of the building, the project will connect U.S. and Egyptian women storytellers Donna Bryson and Chirine El Ansary to curate a storytelling experience of powerful 19th century women from their respective countries. Their work will culminate in a video exhibition that will be on display in the newly renovated Sabil Um Abbas for the local community to experience.

Bhasha Research and Publication Centre (India) and University of Northern Colorado (Colorado, U.S.)
Title of Project: Reclaiming Heritage II: Building Social Bonds and Bridges with Cultural Heritage

This project will utilize digital library resources at UNC to create and share cultural heritage “snapshots” with the broader community. These short videos will help immigrants and refugees in Colorado and indigenous peoples in India share their cultural heritage while building bonds with their local communities. The project will provide its participants with the ownership and platform to share their own heritage while paving a pathway for integration with others in their community.

Outside the Lens (California, U.S.)
Title of Project: Youth Tellers

Youth Tellers is a cross-cultural collaboration between Latinx youth in California and Bosnia-Herzegovina, relying on the concepts of past, present, and future to explore students’ complex cultural identities. Using digital media tools including photography, videography, and youth-facing communication forums like Discord, the project will culminate in a virtual exhibition showcasing the participants’ cultural heritage exchange with one another.

Explore the Story section on the right to learn more about the unique cultural heritage projects implemented since 2018.

Digital Communication Network

Examples of Past Digital Communication Network Projects

  • Internet vs. Democracy Forum
  • Roaring 20s #Digital Forum
  • Combatting Disinformation Training Program
  • Digital and Media Literacy for NGOs Training Program
  • Tolerance and Coexistence 2.0 Forum
  • Montenegro Digital Influencers Hub
  • Humor and Games for Social Good Forum

Fulbright Specialist Program


Link U.S. Experts and International Institutions

A program of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright Specialist Program is a unique opportunity for U.S. academics and established professionals to engage in two- to six-week consultancies at host institutions across the globe. Host institutions, including universities, non-profits, and other organizations, develop and submit projects for approval by the U.S. Embassy or Fulbright Commission in their country in wide-ranging academic and professional fields that build capacity and promote long-lasting linkages between individuals and institutions in the U.S. and abroad.


Address Priorities and Build Institutional Capacity at Institutions Around the World

An important companion to the traditional Fulbright Scholar Program, the Fulbright Specialist Program differs by providing short-term exchange experiences that tackle discrete, sometimes rapid response, projects. The Fulbright Specialist Program encourages participation of both university faculty and highly experienced non-academics, including legal experts, business professionals, public health practitioners, scientists, IT professionals, artists, and journalists. The program is a mutually beneficial opportunity for the Specialist who may not be available to leave their position for an extended period of time and the host institution which needs an experienced partner to jointly tackle a problem or examine an issue on a short-term basis.


Become a Fulbright Specialist: Apply to Join the Roster

Fulbright Specialists are a diverse group of highly experienced, well-established faculty members and professionals who represent a wide variety of academic disciplines and professions.  In order to be eligible to serve as a Fulbright Specialist, candidates must have significant experience in their respective professional field and be a U.S. citizen at time of application. Eligible disciplines and professional fields supported by the Fulbright Specialist Program are listed below.

  • Agriculture
  • American Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Archeology
  • Biology Education
  • Business Administration
  • Chemistry Education
  • Communications and Journalism
  • Computer Science and Information Technology
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Engineering Education
  • Environmental Science
  • Law
  • Library Science
  • Math Education
  • Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies
  • Physics Education
  • Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Public/Global Health
  • Social Work
  • Sociology
  • Urban Planning

Interested candidates can find more information about the Fulbright Specialist Program and apply to serve as a Specialist at fulbrightspecialist.worldlearning.org. Candidates who meet all eligibility requirements will have their full applications reviewed by a panel of their professional peers. Candidates who are approved by the peer review panels will then join the Fulbright Specialist Roster. Individuals remain on the Specialist Roster for a three-year term and are eligible to be matched with a host institution’s project abroad during that tenure.

The following costs are covered for those Fulbright Specialists who are matched to a project: international and domestic airfare, ground transportation, visa fees, lodging, meals, and incidentals. A daily honorarium is also provided.

Become a Host: Bring a Fulbright Specialist to Your Institution

The Fulbright Specialist Program allows universities, cultural centers, non-governmental organizations, and other institutions abroad to host a leading U.S. academic or professional to work on diverse, short-term collaborative projects where the Specialist conducts activities which may include, but are not limited to:

  • Delivering a seminar or workshop
  • Consulting on faculty or workforce development
  • Developing academic or training curricula and materials
  • Lecturing at the graduate or undergraduate level
  • Conducting needs assessments or evaluations for a program or institution

Institutions interested in hosting a Fulbright Specialist should contact their local Fulbright Commission or U.S. Embassy for country-specific requirements and deadlines.

Contact information for all participating countries is available on the fulbrightspecialist.worldlearning.org website.

For more information or questions about the Fulbright Specialist Program, please email [email protected].

The Fulbright Specialist Program is a program of the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. government and administered by World Learning.

International Visitor Leadership Program

End of Year Report

Chosen by U.S. embassies worldwide to participate, distinguished professionals include:

  • parliamentarians
  • government officials
  • entrepreneurs
  • NGO leaders
  • journalists
  • academics
  • arts administrators
  • mid-career professionals

Programs focus on policy issues in areas such as:

  • government
  • international security
  • foreign policy
  • entrepreneurship
  • economics and trade
  • media
  • women’s leadership
  • education
  • public health
  • arts
  • agriculture
  • disability rights and inclusion

World Learning staff members design national itineraries, arrange logistics, set up meetings in Washington, DC, and coordinate the collaboration of U.S. Department of State program officers, interpreters and International Visitor Liaisons, and more than 85 community-based member organizations from the Global Ties U.S. Network who arrange local programs nationwide.


Most participants are mid-career professionals and emerging leaders, and for many, this is their first visit to the U.S. Groups are of varying sizes, from single visitors to groups of 25 or more. World Learning program staff work closely with their State Department counterparts to design a program customized to the project objectives and the visitors’ interests.


Participant Selection

IVLP candidates are selected solely by U.S. embassy personnel in each country. There is no application form. World Learning is a private sector partner of the U.S. Department of State; our role is limited to designing programs for participants once they arrive in the U.S. For further information regarding the program, please consult the U.S. Department of State’s website.

Program Design

A typical project includes up to a week of meetings in Washington, DC, to provide an orientation and overview of the theme and to introduce visitors to federal officials and agencies, national organizations, academics and think tanks, nonprofits and NGOs, and professionals in their specific field of interest. All projects include a briefing on the US federal system of government. Meetings may include panel discussions, site visits, workshops, individual interlocutors, job shadowing, or service opportunities. Visitors typically travel to an additional three or four cities in geographically diverse regions of the country; the itinerary may include a state capital and a small town to provide first-hand exposure to the great diversity that exists in the U.S. Also included in the program design are hospitality dinners, school visits, community service activities, and cultural events such as rodeos, state fairs, festivals, visits to national parks, or events that highlight some unique aspect of the region visited.

Participant Experience

“My recent experience in the IVLP program is so far the deepest ever for me to see and understand the full picture of what America as a country is like. I strongly believe this program will have a very long-term impact on my views about America and the world and to some extent it has already helped me to understand many long-time questions.” – Journalist from China

The International Visitor Leadership Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by World Learning.