See also Learning Life’s Citizen Diplomacy International.
THE FAMILY DIPLOMACY INITIATIVE
Family is by far the most valued relationship in people’s lives across the world, surpassing work, politics, leisure, friends, and religion, according to the World Values Survey. At the same time, families are affected by the wide range of problems societies face, from diabetes and depression, to pollution and climate change, poverty and recessions, and war and terrorism. Despite the family’s vulnerability and value worldwide, seldom are families invited to participate in decision-making alongside business, labor and government, or engaged to connect people across the world’s cultural, economic and political divides. Family is thus a culturally powerful yet largely untapped force for a more caring world.
Learning Life’s Family Diplomacy Initiative (FDI) is an ambitious, grassroots effort to connect, train and empower a growing international corps of volunteer family diplomats (FDs) to participate in decision-making at local to global levels. We envision a world more connected and caring because every family has one or more FDs networked with fellow FDs across the globe, and these citizen diplomats together advocate effectively for the needs, concerns and aspirations of families worldwide via nonprofits, businesses, media and governments.
To achieve this vision, Learning Life is tapping into the power of the internet. Not everyone can afford to travel, but growing numbers of people across the globe are eagerly communicating online. The internet is an enormously popular, cost-effective, large-scale force that is used for good and bad purposes. The bad includes sowing disinformation, intolerance, and violence. The good though includes nurturing dialogue, learning, and collaboration that can open minds, nurture caring, and transform lives.
Learning Life is thus harnessing the power and potential of families and the internet to build an international family diplomacy movement online. In fall 2016, we launched Phase 1 of FDI by connecting lower-income families online in Washington DC, Puerto de la Libertad, El Salvador, and Dakar, Senegal. From 2017 to 2019, Learning Life completed two pilot projects — a community photo project and a food culture project — that engaged small numbers of lower-income families in the USA, El Salvador, Senegal and Jordan. In 2020 we completed a larger scale food culture project. In 2021, we more than quintupled the membership of FDI on Facebook, from less than 1,700 to over 10,000 people worldwide, and organized a series of live international dialogues on the question: “what do families worldwide need to be safe and healthy?” In 2022, we began Phase 2 of FDI, tapping into our growing global FDI network on Facebook to identify and begin training motivated Family Diplomats, improving their knowledge of citizen diplomacy and global family patterns by 11%, and their storytelling skill by 24% on average in 2022, and 9% and 28% respectively in 2023. Learn more about our 2022 and 2023 trainings’ impact. See the poster at the bottom of this page for FDI’s vision and three phases of development. In 2024, we are holding a series of four dialogues on family security with an eye to identifying families worldwide affected by five major issues: war, poverty, climate change, gender-based violence, and the internet.
“I participate in FDI because I want to be a better global citizen. Through FDI, I gain insights into the experience and perspectives of different people across the world, and that understanding helps me be a better global citizen.” -Prudence Hounhoui (left), Porto-Novo, Benin, FDI Member
How You Can Get Involved
Here are five ways you can get involved and support FDI (click the links below that interest you to learn more and get involved):
(1) Join FDI on Facebook to connect, learn and share with families worldwide.
(3) Attend the 2024 dialogues on family security: These international dialogues will be via Zoom and focus on five major threats to families’ security – poverty, war, climate change, domestic violence, and the internet (social media, gaming, etc.) – how families experience these threats, and how these challenges can be addressed. We encourage you to join the dialogues with one or more of your family members, and if your family is affected by one or more of these issues you may have the opportunity to speak.
(3) Get training in family diplomacy (FD): Learning Life is pausing training in 2024 to focus on the above dialogues and our democracy work, but you can indicate your interest in serving as an international family diplomat. Learn more about our online family diplomacy training. Interested individuals and families can live anywhere in the world, but must (a) have a strong internet connection, (b) speak English well enough to participate in English-only FD trainings, and (c) be motivated to complete the online interactive on Sundays during the summer.
(4) Intern with Learning Life: Want to connect with the world, and gain experience in democracy and citizen diplomacy? Learning Life interns are undergraduate or graduate students who typically volunteer about 10 hours/week for several months, usually in spring, summer and/or fall, to gain resume-building nonprofit experience as they assist with a variety of Learning Life tasks, including research, outreach, social media, fundraising, design, planning, and else. To apply for a Learning Life internship, please send along your resume to email@example.com.
For More Information
Want to learn more about family diplomacy? Click here for a deeper dive. For video recordings of FD trainings and family storytelling:
For readings on or related to family diplomacy, see: