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In our increasingly interconnected world, it is often said that international engagement is no longer a luxury, that the future belongs to those who can act locally to globally.

Yet international travel is an expense few can afford.  For this reason, there is growing interest in international “virtual exchange” or connection via the internet, which is often low-cost or free.  However, much of the educational virtual exchange that exists is class-to-class, or student-to-student, and it tends to occur between relatively privileged students, reinforcing the already pronounced social class bias of international affairs.

Since August 2016, Learning Life has been developing a family-to-family model of citizen diplomacy that uses the internet to connect families across borders.  It’s called the Citizen Diplomacy Initiative, or CDI.

CDI Facebook Group

CDI connects families via our CDI Facebook groupencouraging them to share information and stories about their lives and communities, and providing them with free, eye-catching content that helps them learn about the world.  

Family in Dakar, SenegalVirtual exchange presents a promising yet still underdeveloped means for bridging divides, democratizing diplomacy, and reducing inequality.  We envision an increasingly interconnected, equitable and caring future where diverse families worldwide  are at the forefront of international affairs, sharing their joys, needs, challenges and aspirations.

How You Can Get Involved

Learning Life welcomes volunteers for the following roles:

(1) Mentors support CDI by engaging our lower-income families’ youth in enriching world learning activities like short readings and discussions, and here in Washington DC, visits to embassies, museums, libraries, cultural festivals, foreign restaurants, and other sites for world learning.  Mentors are each matched with one CDI child in DC or abroad.  For more information, click here.  Time commitment: about 6 hours per month.

(2) Cook-eat-learn session volunteers either come to our DC lower-income families’ homes and/or invite the families or our mentors and their mentees to their homes to cook and eat a foreign meal, and learn about the world together.  Time commitment: 3-4 hours per meal.

Family in Jerash, Jordan(3) Language interpreters translate CDI families’ words on our CDI Facebook group and/or assist with live dialogues and document translation as needed.  Interpreters should be fluent speakers of Spanish or French.  Time commitment: 1-3 hours per engagement.

(4) Interns are typically undergraduate or graduate students who help with a variety of tasks, including research, writing, family outreach, language interpreting, world learning field trips, etc.  Time commitment: About 8 hours/week during a semester or summer.

To volunteer, please contact us at  Visit our News & Blog page for the latest happenings.