Publication Date: May 15, 2024
Publication Location: Washington, DC
Contact: Abby Henson   |   [email protected]

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) will speak at an event Thursday about the importance of a global education and share how his study abroad experience with School for International Training (SIT) helped shape his life and professional journey. SIT is part of the DC-based international nongovernmental organization World Learning, the only higher education institution in the United States to hold this distinction.

The global university marks its beginnings back to the Peace Corps when President John F. Kennedy appointed Sargent Shriver as the Peace Corps’ inaugural director. Shriver turned to World Learning’s foundational program, The Experiment in International Living, for help. As an alum of the youth exchange program, he tapped the team to help design Peace Corps programs and train early volunteers. These historical trainings led to the establishment of SIT in 1964. The event on Capitol Hill is part of a series of events SIT is hosting to honor its 60 years of educating global citizens through study abroad programs and graduate degrees.

Schatz, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as well as the subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, studied with SIT in Kenya over three decades ago. His program focused on Kenyan life, culture, and rural development—a program he cites helped shape his future career in public service.

“My time in Kenya as an SIT student changed my life and reaffirmed my commitment to public service,” says Schatz. “For 60 years, SIT has helped expand young people’s horizons, giving them invaluable perspectives and the knowledge to take on global challenges. I congratulate everyone at SIT, past and present, for making the program the incredible success it is, and wish them the very best for years to come.”

“Global education is a critical component in the development of future citizens and leaders, whether they are in the public, private, or nonprofit sectors,” says SIT President Dr. Sophia Howlett. With more than 500 faculty and staff around the world, SIT delivers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs in nearly 30 learning centers worldwide.

SIT recently launched a major initiative aimed at encouraging U.S. graduate and undergraduate students to study abroad in Africa, where it runs 21 undergraduate programs and four global master’s programs—more than any other study abroad provider in the U.S. “Africa: See for Yourself” asks students to challenge stereotypes and consider African locations for their study abroad. The latest U.S. Department of State annual Open Doors report showed only 2.4% of all U.S. study-abroad students were in Sub-Saharan Africa in recent years.

“As Africa is becoming more vital geopolitically, the next generation of our workforce needs to have a relationship to the second most populous continent in the world,” Howlett says. “Countries and communities across Africa are confronting some of the world’s most pressing issues such as climate and sustainability, public health, and urban development. This aligns with SIT’s approach to our programs, which are developed around a framework of the world’s most critical global issues.”

Thursday’s event takes place at the Capitol Hill office of law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, who helped to sponsor the event. More than 150 guests are expected to attend, including Rep. Becca Balint (D-Vermont).

“Sixty years of SIT has meant 60 years of educating global leaders. I’m so proud to support the essential nonprofit work of the World Learning team right here in my hometown of Brattleboro, Vermont,” Balint says. “The education provided by SIT is unparalleled, and I’m looking forward to celebrating these successes with the entire World Learning family.”

During one of her first stops in office, Balint visited SIT’s Vermont campus to meet with refugees who are temporarily housed there. SIT and World Learning are part of a local coalition helping to develop a thriving regional refugee resettlement program that has brought more than 300 refugees to southern Vermont over the past two years. SIT and World Learning faculty and staff provide English-language and cultural orientation classes for the new Vermonters.

“SIT and World Learning are committed to the belief that addressing complex issues through a framework of human connections and education is an effective and powerful way to make lasting change in the world,” says World Learning CEO Carol Jenkins. “Through cultural immersion and experiential learning, SIT students gain a new understanding and respect for those who are different from themselves and become agents of change, just like Sen. Schatz.”

School for International Training (SIT), the academic arm of World Learning, was established in 1964 as a training center for the first Peace Corps volunteers. Today, SIT is a U.S.-accredited global university offering undergraduate study abroad programs including the comparative International Honors Program, and globally focused graduate and doctoral degrees and certificates. SIT prepares students to be effective changemakers and global citizens through experiential education focused on the world’s most critical global issues.