The Experimenter: Alumni Newsletter, Fall 2021

A Note from Carla Lineback, Director of Alumni Engagement

Another summer has passed, and The Experiment has run several successful digital programs and kept students engaged in cross-cultural explorations even though in-person programs were not possible. SIT, the higher education arm, was able to run several in-person programs abroad and The Experiment is accepting applications now for summer 2022 in-person and digital programming. Alumni continue to reach out, hoping to reconnect with their group members, and we have made a good number of reconnections!

Some of you may have spent time in the Brattleboro area for pre-departure orientation and you may recall Sandanona, what we now call the SIT campus. While it has been without students over the past year, it wasn’t completely quiet. SIT remains an important southern Vermont community partner as a Vermont Foodbank distribution site; for BIPOC COVID-19 vaccination clinics; and as a contingency location if first responders need to quarantine in large numbers. In August, we were thrilled to be able to host an in-person commencement for our SIT Graduate Institute students.

Please enjoy reading about Experiment alumni, and I hope you’ll consider sending in your own update for inclusion in a future newsletter to alumni@worldlearning.org.

Experiment Alumni News

(Listed by year of participation)

Margaret Hays, Norway 1956, writes a weekly column for The Miami County Republic, a paper in Kansas. Earlier this year, her column featured memories of her experience in Norway. Read her piece, Journey to Norway was unforgettable experience.

Stephen C. Jett, France 1960, has kept up with his French family for more than 60 years. His experiences in France and with the French language have helped him travel (e.g., among the Tuareg in Algeria), make friends, do scholarly research in cultural geography, and, as a family project, acquire, restore, furnish, and manage four rental houses in Provence, starting in 1969 (his daughter is carrying on). He was an invited speaker and panelist at the 2006 Festival International de Géographie de Saint-Dié-des-Voges, presenting in French. In 2010, he participated in a 50th anniversary reunion of several of the participants in the 1960 Experiment summer in Versailles and elsewhere in France.

Julia Meech, Germany 1960, returned to Germany on a Fulbright grant to study Asian art at the University of Cologne a few years after her Experiment. She now lives in Manhattan, New York, and is still working in the Japanese art field, as a curator for a collector of Japanese art, and editing and producing the journal Impressions for the Japanese Art Society of America.

Linda (Russack) Tobin, India 1962, has reconnected with several members of her group and hosted a virtual reunion. The group has worked on a collective memoir of their summer, which we hope to share at a future date. From this group, Frances (Yates) Handler, India 1962 and Japan 1963, reports that she is still in touch with her two Indian families. If you would like to reconnect with this group, please contact alumni@worldlearning.org.

Lee (Dennison) Roussel, France 1963, says the most important impact of her experience did not reveal itself until she became a Foreign Service Officer and joined the US Agency for International Development in 1978. She met Andre, a French consular officer, and has been married to him for more than 40 years. They are both now retired and have moved to the Seattle, Wash., area to help their daughter with her first child, a daughter born March 13. Lee and Andre are now looking for French language books for infants to continue the language learning with the third generation.

Judith Small, France 1968, published Second Tongue, a sequence of poems growing out of interpreting for French-speaking asylum seekers from North and West Africa. Judith’s experiences as an Experimenter played a key role in helping her to feel comfortable and engaged with new people in unfamiliar settings. Judith majored in French, served as a Fulbright Teaching Assistant in northern France, and earned two master’s degrees, one from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, in secondary education; and the other from San Francisco State University, in English with a creative writing emphasis. She taught French for eight years at Berkeley High School in California. Judith’s mother, Ellen (Deming) Small was an Experimenter to France in 1938, and Judith’s children, Matthew Fitzgerald, Mexico 1998, and Maura Fitzgerald, France 2003, make up the third generation of Experimenters in this family.

Marilyn (Greene) Johnston, Greece 1969, Group Leader France 1970, Switzerland 1971, Sweden 1972, and Ireland 1973, pulled together a virtual reunion of most members of the France 1970 group: Maribeth (Anderson) Cannavaro, Robert Apfel, Debra (Everett) Edwards, Terrance “Terry” Frolich, Jana (Oppenheim) Miller, Helen (Schiro) Kaplan (also Canada 1968), Ellen (Schwartz) Yellin, Sheila Swan, and Richard Williams. Marilyn later reconnected with Maureen Kelley, as well. Marilyn wrote: “It was fantastic to catch up on our lives, hear about each person’s overview of their lives since that amazing summer and the opportunities to return to France in these ensuing years. After such a wild year, this [reunion] brought us such joy to reminisce, sharing this bond, in our different locations, with a vow that many of us will continue to connect. One thing was strongly felt among the group, that the summer was a memorable one, and for some, a ‘life-changing experience’.  We have all tried to live the Experiment credo, To expect the unexpected!

Roger Brown, Germany 1971 and SIT CONTACT 2014, has written a memoir of his experience which includes stories of his travels after the program. There were several groups to Germany that summer and some traveled together to Berlin and Brussels. If you are interested in a copy of this memoir, please contact alumni@worldlearning.org.

Alvino-Mario Fantini, Italy 1985, Group Leader Spain 1998, SIT MA in Intercultural Management, launched a new quarterly publication to expand the diversity of the European media space. Bringing together diverse writings and perspectives on art, literature, philosophy, and politics, the publication—provocatively titled “The European Conservative”—seeks to make available content routinely ignored by the mainstream media. Mario says that at SIT he learned to resist groupthink, which can stifle debate and suppress minority viewpoints. Working cross-culturally with teams from Austria, Croatia, France, Hungary, Italy, the UK and the U.S., Mario has reconceptualized and redesigned this English-language thought journal and is significantly expanding distribution. “My hope,” he says, “is not only to raise awareness of ideas and writings that can find no platform or outlet, but also, in the process, to remind people that the dominant media and entertainment giants do not fully reflect the dazzling variety and rich traditions of different European cultures.”

Alisha Goldstein, Chile 2001 and SIT Panama 2005, says her Experiment summer was her first time abroad and, as for many, it germinated a seed in her. When selecting colleges, she chose only those that would allow her to study abroad as an engineering student, preferably to a non-English speaking country. She then participated in an SIT Study Abroad program in Panama. The experiences gave her the confidence and foundation to pursue research, travel alone, and handle uncertainty and uncomfortable situations. She spent time volunteering in Central America on a water project and lived on a permaculture farm and was able to study abroad again during graduate studies in engineering.

Ariel Poster, Belize 2002 and SIT Nicaragua 2006, created All American Kids, a hybrid documentary and animated series that explores the lives of children across the country and teaches a multicultural understanding of what it means to be American. All American Kids has been shown at several film festivals and has received several distinctions including the Peggy Charren Award of Excellence at the Boston International Kids Film Festival.

Naomi (Cartwright) Jones, Navajo Nation 2003, worked for a children’s book publisher in London for eight years after graduating university. This past year, she published her own debut picture book, The Perfect Fit, which was partly inspired by her experience on The Experiment. The book is being translated and will be published in nine languages around the world. You can read more about it on this blog.

Reagan Jackson, Group Leader Japan 2005, 2006, 2007, and SIT MA in International Education, published Still Here: A South End Mixtape From an Unexpected Journalist. The book includes a collection of some of her most important and award-winning journalism over the past 10 years. Read a review in the South Seattle Emerald.

Sarah Wiggins, Group Leader Spain 2015 and Mongolia 2017 and SIT MA in International Education, was one of 20 young professionals named 2021 Emerging Leaders of Southern Vermont. Individuals were nominated based on their work as community leaders and volunteers, and for their professional accomplishments and commitment to serving the region. This distinguished group includes two other alumni,  Ian Hefele, SIT MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership and Management, and Conor Floyd, SIT Study Abroad Nepal 2014.

Perry DeMarche, SIT Morocco 2017, Experiment Group Leader France 2018 and Morocco 2019, moved to Tunisia, where she works with the North African Policy Initiative (NAPI), an NGO that seeks to strengthen participatory governance in North Africa and empower youth to conduct policy research on issues they care about. Before moving to Tunisia, Perry was living and working in southern Morocco with Dar Si Hmad, a small NGO focused on hands-on, cross-cultural education programs and local development initiatives.

Opportunities

SIT and World Learning is hiring! Among the open positions are:

  • Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer
  • Senior Director of Global Education
  • Operations Coordinator for Youth Programs

There are positions for all levels of experience, and based in locations around the world, so please be sure to check out current openings on the employment page. Interested in becoming a leader with Youth Exchange Programs for summer 2022? We are seeking experienced and inclusive educators to lead groups of high school students on cross-cultural exchanges! The Experiment leaders guide a group of 10 to 16 high school students on a journey abroad. Youth Program leaders facilitate an immersion exchange program in the US for 3 to 4 weeks with youth from Iraq, Canada, and Latin America. The application will be available this fall. If you would like to receive more information and a notification when the application is open, email groupleaders@worldlearning.org.

The fall 2021 Critical Conversations webinar series has begun! The webinars come in a variety of formats and topics—learn to cook a Jordanian meal or participate in talks and Q&As with Dr. Homi K. Bhabha from Harvard and IHP alumna Kerlyne Jean-Baptiste, among many others. These webinars are designed to inspire community-wide dialogue on global, interdisciplinary issues.

About the Organization

Scholarships for Experiment and SIT programs may be available to Experiment or SIT alumni and their family members.

The SIT World Languages Center is committed to promoting and preserving indigenous and less commonly taught languages while also providing critical, specialized courses in widely studied languages. Online and in-person language courses for college credit are open to high school, undergraduate and graduate students, and adult learners. sit.edu/sit-world-languages-center

SIT Study Abroad provides academically rich undergraduate semester and summer programs, most with field research or internships, and International Honors Program comparative study. Apply by Nov. 1, 2021, for spring 2022 programs. studyabroad.sit.edu

SIT Graduate Institute offers global, full-time, and part-time, hybrid master’s degrees, certificates, and professional development programs. SIT has also launched a hybrid Doctorate in Global Education (EdD) which combines rigorous online coursework with short residencies in Vermont to fit the needs of part- and full-time professionals seeking to rapidly accelerate their career while tackling highly relevant issues in global education, both locally and abroad. graduate.sit.edu

World Learning’s Global Programs work to create a more peaceful and just world through education, sustainable development, and exchange. Our programs advance leadership in more than 150 countries. worldlearning.org

World Learning Inc., the nonprofit parent organization of School for International Training and The Experiment in International Living, offers high school, undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. World Learning Inc.’s summer programs (through The Experiment in International Living) help high school students experience another culture. SIT Study Abroad offers semester- and summer-long undergraduate programs that address critical global issues on all seven continents and includes the International Honors Program comparative studies. SIT Graduate Institute offers graduate degrees in low-residency and global formats. World Learning is working to create a more peaceful and just world through education, sustainable development, and exchange. Founded in 1932 as The Experiment in International Living, the organization that has become World Learning, Inc. was inspired by Dr. Donald Watt’s innovative idea to improve understanding across cultures and nations by sending U.S. students abroad to live with families to expand their worldviews.