From Passion to Action: Creating Change

Judith Brown Meyers, PhD, is passionate about World Learning’s international development work, and is a champion of the Institute for Political and Civic Engagement (iPACE) program in Burma, which trains local civil society leaders and activists to effectively take part in their burgeoning democracy. A World Learning board member from 2011 to 2014, Meyers, who lives in Rye, New Hampshire, has had an illustrious career in international development with a primary focus on South Asia and environmental issues.

Meyers joined the World Learning family after meeting board member Mary Davidson on a trip to Bhutan with a group of friends. Davidson knew of her academic background and experience in international affairs and encouraged Meyers to learn more about the organization. Meyers joined the board soon after and has been actively involved in World Learning ever since.

“I know the various players out there and I know that World Learning’s development work is stellar. Their ethics, their approach, the way that they work with their counterparts in each of the countries in which they have contracts,” she said.

Meyers supports scholarships for iPACE, which offset the costs of transportation and lodging for participants, and ensure that iPACE students from throughout the country can attend the program in Mandalay or Yangon. These scholarships underscore iPACE’s dedication to pluralism and creating a student base that reflects the diversity of the country.

After visiting iPACE in March 2015, Meyers noted the range of participants. “It wasn’t just twenty-somethings,” she said. “There was a man who had been a political dissident who had just been released from prison. There were people representing various political parties; there were people representing a variety of ethnic minorities, women’s organizations, and labor organizations.”

“I loved that so many people in that country are embracing the importance of civil society in a democracy,” Meyers said of her time in Burma. “It’s so exciting to see the great gusto and enthusiasm the people of Myanmar have, because you can’t have a democracy without civil society.”

Meyers recalled a conversation with iPACE director Adam LeClair, who relayed to her an example of the scholarship’s impact. “There was a program in which there were two deaf people, and Adam used a scholarship to hire a sign language interpreter [to assist the participants] who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend.” She saw iPACE putting into action the “importance of developing civil societies throughout the whole country, especially people who are marginalized and underserved because of geography and economics.”