DC Citizen Diplomacy Initiative

As the capital of the United States, Washington D.C. is a center of national and international affairs yet many D.C. residents are not meaningfully engaged in these affairs.  Knowledge about and engagement in national and international affairs is not a luxury poor people can’t afford; it can be crucial to personal advancement and to narrowing stubborn social inequalities in our globalizing world.  Starting in 2016, Learning Life is developing an initiative in Washington D.C. to address these disengagement and inequality issues in an innovative way.

Washington D.C.Learning Life’s Citizen Diplomacy Initiative will engage selected D.C. children and their parents (or mentors or legal guardians) free of charge in “virtual exchanges” or live, internet, video dialogues with families in other nations worldwide in order to nurture peace and family and youth development.  The Initiative will:

1) focus on learning and skill-building through cross-national, youth-driven dialogue and collaboration.

2) be supported by volunteer mentors, project advisors, language interpreters and the youths’ parents.

3) organize the dialogues in participating families’ homes or in local offices with high-speed internet.

Live virtual exchanges present a promising yet still underdeveloped means for meaningfully bridging social, political and geographic divides, and reducing the advantage the wealthiest have in travel and international affairs.  In pursuing this initiative, one of Learning Life’s long-term goals is to help democratize diplomacy by increasing the number of ordinary people — but especially those less privileged — engaged in international dialogue and collaboration.

Learning Life is now recruiting the following interested volunteers.  In many cases, volunteers can perform more than one of the roles in bold red below (e.g., a dialogue organizer can also be a youth mentor).

(1) Families in metro Washington D.C. and other nations.  In metro D.C., highest priority is currently given to D.C. residents east of the Anacostia River, in Wards 7 & 8.   Learning Life also seeks to reach families that have fewer educational and travel experiences.  Thus, families in the U.S. and abroad should have:

(a) parents with no more than a bachelor’s degree (4 years of university leading to a diploma)

(b) not traveled by plane as a family for vacation outside the USA or their country of residence more than twice

(c) at least one parent and one child age 10-18 willing to participate in at least one dialogue

Grandparents or legal guardians and their children, or mentors and their mentees are also welcome to participate.  The same restrictions above apply to them.  

(2) Dialogue organizers in metro D.C. and abroad (particularly in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East) .  Dialogue organizers are vital because they help find all the other dialogue participants — families, mentors, interpreters/translators and project advisors — in their community.  Interested individuals living outside the USA can learn more about becoming a dialogue organizer here.

(3) Responsible youth mentors in metro Washington D.C. and abroad who adopt a participating family, moderating the family’s dialogues, and assisting the children with international projects they may pursue together.  Mentors should ideally have at least a bachelor’s degree, or be enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program, though others are welcome to apply.  

(4) Fluent Arabic, French, Spanish and Tagalog speakers in metro Washington D.C. and abroad who are willing to occasionally volunteer as dialogue interpreters and/or document translators.

(5) Project advisors in metro Washington D.C. and abroad who advise youth and their parents and mentors to help them carry out their international projects effectively.  Advisors should be working or retired professionals with knowledge and skills in their work field, whether in media, arts, food, tourism, education, business, community-building, or else.

To volunteer or learn more, please contact us at email@learninglife.info