Remarks Type: Remarks as Prepared
Speaker: Donald Steinberg, World Learning CEO
Speech Date: May 21, 2016
Speech Location: Brattleboro, VT

Honored Guests:

During graduation season in the United States this year, we’re hearing a lot about “change-makers” and “disrupters” – terms that are now in vogue for visionaries leading innovative change around the world.  Here at SIT, we’ve been creating change-makers for decades, and our commitment to making a difference in the world is much more than a passing fad.

Steve Lowey has been a change-maker for the better part of seven decades.  Indeed, for me, the six most inspiring words in the English language are: “Don, I’ve got an idea. Steve.”

Steve’s journey with World Learning began some 65 years ago on an Experiment program to the French city of Lille. He traveled by ship from New York to Paris, then by train to Lille, where his homestay family was waiting for him. A French boy became his brother, and their friendship has endured more than six decades. They have grown to love each other’s families and have exchanged countless visits over the years.

That was the beginning of a deep commitment to the Experiment and the audacious concept that inter-cultural exchanges can build a more peaceful and just world. Five years later, Steve returned to Grenoble as a Group Leader.  By then he was an Experiment Lifer.

Steve joined the World Learning Board of Trustees in 1986, served as board chair from 1997 to 2000, and was then named chair emeritus. He oversaw the creation of the first scholarships for the Experiment, which today provide more financial aid than any other high school exchange program.

In 1995, he and his remarkable wife, Representative Nita Lowey, endowed a scholarship fund to enable high school students from his community in Westchester County to have the same kind of life-changing experience he had. Literally hundreds of Community Ambassadors have participated in the Experiment.

In making his gift, Steve said he wanted to make a real difference not just in the lives of individual students, but in the promoting of our nation’s global mission. He said, “It is in America’s national interest that we be represented abroad by citizen diplomats as well as by career professionals.” And having served three decades as a professional diplomat, I couldn’t agree more.

Last year, Steve helped fund the Experiment Leadership Institute, a scholarship program for young people to study public health in India and human rights in South Africa, and develop leadership skills.  I’ve come to know many of the young people traveled on the Leadership Institute program last year, and their transformation is awe-inspiring.

And, of course, we are all reminded every day of the Lowey’s their dedication and generosity when we meet, study, and dine in their house: the Stephen and Nita Lowey International Center.

Today, he is still molding and shaping the organization. In particular, his service on the Academic Review Task Force helped reaffirm World Learning’s commitment to experiential graduate education and set a path for an even stronger, more impactful future.

On a more personal note, the first thing I did upon coming to World Learning three years ago was to fly to New York City and meet consecutively with Steve Lowey, the indomitable Mary Davidson, and Bob Schweich. It was the best move I could’ve made. All three gave me invaluable insights that have made me a better president.

With Steve, he could’ve rejected me as an outsider, new to the fields of international education and exchange. Instead, he embraced and mentored me, I spent three hours drinking from a firehose of wise counsel and valuable advice.

We are so very grateful to Steve, and his wonderful wife of 50 years, and their three children and eight grandchildren, who have shared Steve with us on this journey. It is now my honor on behalf of the Board of Trustees of World Learning to award the degree of Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters to Stephen Lowey.

Congratulations, Dr. Lowey, and the podium is yours.