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.
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 borders via our FDI Facebook group, encouraging them to share information and stories about their lives, and providing them with free, eye-catching content that helps them learn about the world.
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, challenges and aspirations.
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 are working to scale up FDI to engage more than one thousand families in six countries via our Facebook group. Join our Facebook group, and watch for developments in late 2019 and in 2020!
How You Can Get Involved
Learning Life welcomes volunteers for the following roles:
(1) Mentors support FDI by engaging selected children from our lower-income families 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 FDI child in DC or abroad. For more information, click here. Time commitment: about 6-8 hours per month.
(2) Language interpreters assist with live international dialogues and document translation as needed. Interpreters should be fluent speakers of Spanish or French. Time commitment: 1-3 hours per engagement.
(3) Interns are typically undergraduate or graduate students who help with a variety of tasks, including research, writing, outreach, language interpreting, world learning field trips and events, etc. Time commitment: About 8 hours/week during a semester or summer.
To volunteer, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit our News & Blog page for the latest happenings.