Cultures, developed and developing, unite through immersion and connection. Dr. Donald Watt, a Syracuse University Professor, first came upon this idea during the Great Depression. It was his belief that the cultures and the people on Earth would thrive with a better understanding of each other, eradicating preconceived judgments and categorical placement of social status.

Watt knew this goal could only be achieved through cultural integration of young students. That is why he formed World Learning. A non-profit organization, WL focuses on the development of connections between cultures through three types of programs.

1.    Education

Offering study abroad programs to high school and college students, WL emphasizes full immersion into foreign cultures. WL offers summer programs that allow students to do field research abroad, while taking in foreign languages and all that the countries have to offer. An example of one of these educational programs is the SIT Study Abroad program. Students enrolled in this program often are assigned a critical issue of a culture, one that they must study to fully understand. They then address the issue through community projects and global service. SIT Study Abroad hosts over 70 programs in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.

2.    Exchange

WL has developed connections with leaders across the globe, bringing them to the United States to communicate with young students. The insight and experiences of these leaders are beneficial to students in the program.

3.    Development

The programs WL have to offer to young students focus on the critical issues our world faces today. These include poverty, government accountability, the spread of disease and the malnutrition of women and children. Once the needs of cultures are identified, WL expects students to immerse themselves and help make a difference through the leadership skills they are taught.

World Learning has made a difference in 60 countries and changed the lives of over 100,000 people. This difference has been due to the engagement of the youth, whose immersion into developing countries has created important lifelong international bonds.

–  William Norris

Sources: World Learning, SIT Study Abroad
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