FAMILY DIPLOMACY INITIATIVE
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.
Nonetheless, virtual 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, informing policy-making by sharing their joys, needs, concerns and aspirations.
Since August 2016, Learning Life has been developing a new form of citizen diplomacy that uses the internet to connect families across borders. We call it family diplomacy, and our flagship program is the Family Diplomacy Initiative (FDI). FDI connects families across lines of country, class, race and religion via our FDI Facebook group, and encourages them to share and learn together about family life, including the forces shaping families, through Learning Life-curated projects.
From 2017 to 2019, Learning Life completed two pilot projects — a community photo project and a food culture project — that engaged a small number of lower-income families in the USA, El Salvador, Senegal and Jordan. Since summer 2019, we have been scaling up FDI to encourage thousands of people worldwide to share and learn together. In 2020, we completed a larger scale food culture project (reports forthcoming), and in 2021, we aim to expand further with a series of live international dialogues and Facebook discussions on the question: “what do families worldwide need to be safe and healthy?” We are now recruiting Family Diplomats to participate in these dialogues. For more information about our 2021 FDI activities, and how to become a Family Diplomat in 2021, click here.
Learning Life welcomes volunteers for the following roles:
(1) Mentors are caring adults who support FDI by helping to open the world to selected children from Learning Life lower-income families in the USA and abroad. For more information, click here. Time commitment: about 6-8 hours per month.
(2) Language interpreters assist with communications and research with Learning Life families worldwide. Interpreters should be advanced to fluent speakers of languages other than English, with preference for major languages like Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, French and Spanish. Time commitment: 30-60 minutes per engagement.
(3) Interns are typically undergraduate or graduate students who help with a variety of tasks, including research, writing, outreach, communications, language interpreting, FDI dialogues, fundraising, and else. Time commitment: 8-10 hours/week during a semester or summer.
To volunteer, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and include your resume. Visit our News & Blog page for the latest happenings.