Publication Date: January 9, 2021
Publication Location: Washington, DC
Contact: Kathryn Schoenberger   |   communications@worldlearning.org

A Letter to Our Staff and Faculty

Dear Colleagues, 

We write today to share our thoughts as we continue to process what transpired in Washington, DC. The sight of an angry mob invading the United States Capitol building delaying the ratification of the nation’s election presented us with the “unthinkable.” As shocking as the images were, we also know that these actions reflect divisions within U.S. society that have widened and become increasingly visible over the past years.

Throughout history, the citizens of the U.S. have united to push the country to live up to its founding ideals of liberty and equality for all. World Learning, founded in the beautiful hills of southern Vermont, was created almost 100 years ago to unite Americans toward a common vision of peace in a world faced with division and isolationism. Now, still based in Vermont but also in Washington, DC, we believe that the country needs to recommit to unity for its people; World Learning recommits to that journey with our compatriots and our global community.

As individuals and as an international organization dedicated to intercultural understanding and education, these days remind us again of how relevant our organization’s shared core values are. We believe that wherever there is division, hatred, misunderstanding, or inequality, there is critical work to be done. More than ever, these turbulent times call for our engagement with individuals, communities, and institutions. We know that those of us who choose to work, teach, and study at World Learning and School for International Training do so because we are passionate about making positive change in our communities and our world. We aspire to be reflective practitioners in our work. Therefore, we must challenge ourselves to ask what this means for us: how should we respond in our work, our courses, and our research?  

These events have brought up many emotions including anger, grief, and no doubt a desire for accountability and justice. One of our colleagues said it best: “As I try to process all of this and what it means for us personally, and for our organization professionally, I feel a degree of hope rooted in the deep knowledge of reconciliation and intercultural dialogue that our organization possesses. We can incorporate and share this knowledge as we head boldly, not timidly, into the future, offering what we have to those who now need it most.”

As we work through these feelings, we ask that you join us in recommitting to a vision of unity, not just for some, but for all.  

Sincerely,

Carol Jenkins, CEO, World Learning

Dr. Sophia Howlett, President, School for International Training