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, long-term effort to connect, train and empower families 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 family diplomats, and those citizen diplomats advocate effectively via nonprofits, businesses, media and governments for the needs, concerns and aspirations of families worldwide.

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 building 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 are starting Phase 2 of FDI, tapping into our growing global FDI network on Facebook to identify and begin training motivated Family Diplomats as international family storytellers.  (See the poster below for FDI’s vision and three phases of development.)  

How You Can Get Involved

Here are four ways you can get involved and support FDI:

(1) Join FDI on Facebook to connect, learn and share with families worldwide.

(2)  Join our Democracy & Diplomacy Community to network, learn and support family diplomacy.  

(3) Become a Family Diplomat (FD): FDs are one or more family members anywhere in the world who live together, have a strong internet connection, speak English at at least a strong intermediate level, and are interested in connecting with other families across the world, learning together, and developing skills to become effective international advocates for families.

(4) Intern with Learning Life: Interns are undergraduate or graduate students who typically volunteer about 10 hours/week for several months to gain resume-building international 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@learninglife.info.  

For More Information

Want to learn more about family diplomacy?  Click here for a deeper dive.  For some of the thinking behind FDI, see:

Democratize Diplomacy!

Families: A New Voice for a More Caring World

Five Reasons Why Diplomacy Should Involve Families

Toward a Contextual Ethics of Diplomacy