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 dialogues.
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, and in 2021, we are expanding further with a series of live international dialogues on the question: “what do families worldwide need to be safe and healthy?” We are now recruiting Family Diplomats to participate in international family dialogues in 2021 and beyond. For more information about FDI, and how to become a Family Diplomat, click here.
Learning Life welcomes volunteers for the following roles:
(1) Family Diplomats (FDs) are two or more family members who live together, and participate in live international family dialogues via Zoom to connect, share and learn with other families worldwide. To apply, please fill out this pre-dialogue survey.
(2) Family Diplomacy Ambassadors (FDAs) are motivated young people ages 14 to 30 anywhere in the world who volunteer 3-4 hours per week to help grow family diplomacy worldwide, including 45-90 minute weekly meetings via Zoom with Learning Life staff and an international team of FDAs. To apply, please fill out this screening survey.
(3) Interns are undergraduate or graduate students who typically volunteer 8-10 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, communications, dialogue organizing, fundraising, planning, and else. To apply for a Learning Life internship, please send along your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.