Publication Date: June 1, 2020
Publication Location: WASHINGTON
Contact:   |   communications@worldlearning.org

Dear Colleagues,

The past week of outrage and calls for change in the United States, framed by the months-long global pandemic and economic shut down is daunting. It is heart-breaking on a range of levels. For many of our colleagues around the globe, what is happening in cities across the United States is familiar in some ways, though rooted in unique sources of inequity and injustice. 

World Learning / School for International Training strongly supports efforts to dismantle systems grounded in oppression that continue to harm and disenfranchise people of color and others who are marginalized.

Our organization took root in 1932, when Dr. Donald Watt saw the need to cultivate and expand cross-cultural understanding and respect. Since that time, generations of SIT and World Learning staff and alumni have committed themselves to creating a more just and peaceful world. During this difficult time, we call upon all those who live and share our values to speak and act definitively to dismantle oppression in all its forms.

As many leaders, from mayors to governors to global diplomats, have reminded us in the past few days, if handled properly, this can be a moment of change. As leaders of this great organization we believe that peace, reconciliation, and the systemic transformation of institutions, systems, and policies are possible; this belief is profoundly embedded within the mission and values of our organization. 

We extend our support to our colleagues and alumni in the United States and our entire global community as we seek to build a world based on our highest ideals. As educators and leaders, our passion is to change our society through the individual change that we can make every day with our students and communities. World Learning was born out of that passion; we carry it within us and pass it on to our students and participants.

At a time when the pandemic has disproportionately affected marginalized communities around the globe and has particularly impacted people of color in the United States, including high rates of death and infection, we must recommit to confronting implicit biases and explicit racism.

We must do this now and into the future as we continue our critical work to develop leaders with the capacity, understanding, and intuition to approach intractable problems with new strategies and fresh ideas that can heal nations and a world in crisis.

This organization and its leadership are here to support our staff and faculty regardless of where in the world you reside. As always, we encourage you to reach out to Human Resources if you need assistance. But we will also be offering venues for engagement and discussion that will be led by some of our own in-house experts. And, we see these not as ‘one off’ initiatives, but part of a deeper commitment to reflection as an institution and to the provision of new training that will increase our awareness and understanding of the sensitive issues we face as a community dedicated to social justice.

Sincerely,

Carol Jenkins and Sophie Howlett