The Experimenter: Alumni Newsletter, Fall 2022
A Note from Carla Lineback, Director of Alumni Engagement
This summer, we were thrilled to be able to send 179 Experimenters to nine countries including Ecuador, France, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Jordan, South Korea, Spain, and Switzerland. Group leaders and Experimenters alike reveled in the opportunity to experience these countries in person. The Experiment also continued with the digital programs, and 716 high school students from the U.S. and Middle East and North Africa region participated.
In August, we experienced a wonderful day of celebration on the beautiful campus in Brattleboro. Following an SIT commencement ceremony for 54 newly minted changemakers was an equally inspirational commemorative marker dedication honoring the deep and long partnership between World Learning, SIT, The Experiment, and the Peace Corps. As you know, it was a former Experimenter, Sargent Shriver, who called upon The Experiment to train some of the first Peace Corps volunteers in Vermont when he became the first Peace Corps director. This initiative then led to the establishment of SIT.
During the commencement, Dominique Ciavattone, SIT Study Abroad Kenya 2012, Experiment Group Leader South Africa 2019, and SIT MA Climate Change and Global Sustainability 2021, gave a moving and inspiring speech to her fellow graduates. Peace Corps CEO Carol Spahn not only spoke at commencement but also at the commemorative marker celebration, along with U.S. Representative Peter Welch and Katherine Long from U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy’s office. We also were humbled by the shared remarks of Timothy Shriver, Sargent Shriver’s son, that were read aloud by Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Javonni McGlaurin, SIT MA International Education 2016, from a letter he sent for the occasion.
“No alliance of organizations or people have done more to break down the walls of misunderstanding and fear that have divided culture from culture, religion from religion, country from country, people from people. And furthermore, no group of organizations or team of individuals have done more to stay the course in these days of increased division and polarization.”
Read more about both events here: Shared History of World Learning, SIT, and Peace Corps focus of events.
Finally, I’m thrilled to share that The Experiment Digital’s International Virtual Exchange program was chosen as the Top Online Study Abroad Program of 2021 by GoAbroad. The Experiment was also chosen as a top study-abroad provider across three categories in the Go Overseas Community Choice Awards 2021: Academics, Fun, and Safety. These sites are neutral third parties that serve as valuable tools for potential participants to learn about The Experiment’s programs. Read more here: The Experiment Wins Top Study Abroad Awards.
Experiment Alumni News
(Listed by year of participation)
Jean (deBeer) Pollak, France 1946 and Group Leader France 1947, will celebrate her 97th birthday this fall. The Experiment has remained a strong tradition in her family. Jean’s son, Dick Pollak, Japan 1971, married group member June (Mukoda) Pollak Wallace. Jean’s other son William married Georgia (Brown) Pollak, Sweden 1970. Their two children then went on to be Experimenters as well: Charlie Pollak, Italy 1996, and Sarah (Pollak) Sullivan, France 2000. Read their story here: Meet the Pollaks: How Three Generations of Experimenters Kept their Learning Legacy Alive. (Photo below)
Marilyn (Wenner) Gordon, Austria 1954, has been using a storytelling subscription to tell her life story which includes many details of her Experiment experience starting with the week long sail across the ocean to Europe and including the 18-day camping trip in the Dolomites. Full of new experiences, Marilyn says she gained confidence as she hadn’t at the time – nor to this day – done anything as demanding as forcing herself to learn another language and live with a community of strangers. Marilyn’s granddaughter, Hallie, has kept the family connected to World Learning and is a senior program associate for World Learning’s International Visitor Leadership Program. Read more about Marilyn and Hallie in The Longest Trip: How The Experiment and World Learning created a new bond for a grandmother and her granddaughter. (Photo below)
Robert Youker, Germany 1955, was drafted into the navy after his Experiment experience and spent two years doing diving operations in Hawaii, Alaska, and Asia. He spent two years in Lagos, Nigeria, and a short time working for the Peace Corps. He worked in the field of project management and became a lecturer in the Economic Development Institute of the World Bank running courses around the world. He also taught a seminar on project management at SIT as well as at Georgetown and George Washington Universities. He has worked or traveled in many countries around the world and says, “What I learned in the Experiment was helpful to me in working across various cultures.”
Mark Sanford, Switzerland 1958, has been a life coach helping people struggling with bad habits to pursue healthful ways.
Judith White, Italy 1959, says that her experience was truly one of the most life-changing events in her younger years. She is grateful to the Ratti family who didn’t panic when Judy didn’t speak a word of Italian. She says they spoke to her as if they understood her perfectly fine. After finishing graduate school to become a teacher, Judy married a foreign service officer and lived in Quito, Ecuador; David, Panama; Montevideo, Uruguay; and Kabul, Afghanistan. Back in California, she taught English as a second language in a school district whose students had 67 different first languages. She says, “I carried all that I learned about other cultures and about learning languages from 1959 into the rest of my life.”
Deborah Allen Fleming, Spain 1969 and SIT International Career Training 1972, was reminiscing about her time on campus and doing the “luggage hike.” She had done her internship in Cameroon thanks to an SIT alum. She spent her career as a professional librarian and is semi-retired working in a high school as a bilingual instructional assistant. She is currently planning a permanent move to Portugal followed soon by her daughter and grandchildren.
Anita Gonzalez, Mexico 1973, was named co-chair of the Georgetown University Racial Justice Institute! Her work is now helping communities fight for racial justice by using arts to humanize experiences and tell stories of their struggle and resilience, creating understanding and empathy for their cause. Dr. Gonzalez describes her Experiment in Mexico as a formative experience that shaped her academic, professional, and overall life path. Read more here: Experiment Alumna Draws on Cultural Exchange Experience in New Role at Georgetown. (Photo below)
Kai Hernandez, Mexico 1979, Denmark 1980, has maintained close ties with her host family from Mexico. She writes, “My Experiment experience in Mexico in the summer of 1979 touched not only my life, but also the lives of my parents and siblings and of my entire host family, and after so many decades we all consider ourselves to be one family in the truest sense. This strong cross-cultural bond between 14 people over the past 43 years was the direct result of my summer with the Experiment in International Living, and I know that we are living proof of the success of The Experiment’s mission to promote international understanding at the most basic human level.”
Tom Luce, SIT MA in Teaching 1987 and Experiment Group Leader France 1994, founded Human Rights Accompaniment in Haiti, working to provide human rights from 2004-2011. In 2010, his attention turned to creating the scholarship program Hope for Haiti: Education to help at-risk children. Tom says, “SIT certainly has been part of my inspiration to do this work.”
Katherine “Katy” Greer and Chris Amendano, Spain 2012, met on their Experiment experience and 10 years later—almost to the day—were married! (Photo below)
Leah Whitmoyer, India 2018, and Naomi Breazeale, South Africa 2019, are part of the inaugural cohort of the Voyager Scholarship, a new program created by the Obama Foundation and Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, aimed at inspiring students to pursue public service to “bridge divides and help solve our biggest challenges together.” According to the announcement, Leah is interested in exploring water conservation efforts in regions facing imminent drought and Naomi would like to learn more about religious minority groups. In addition to these two Experimenters, three students with connections to SIT Study Abroad were awarded this honor. Read more about the students and the scholarship: 5 SIT, Experiment students win Obama Foundation-Airbnb scholarships.
Avery Bennet, Spain 2022, is entering her junior year of high school and is excited to use the Spanish vocabulary and cultural understanding she gained from her experience. She is thinking ahead to college and hoping to return to Spain for another study abroad experience. Her group formed strong bonds with each other and with teenagers in Spain. The group spent time in Madrid, Cordoba, Gaudix, Granada, and Toledo. (Photo below)
SIT and World Learning are hiring! There are more than 40 positions requiring various levels of experience based in locations around the world. Please be sure to check out current openings on the employment page.
Interested in becoming a leader with Youth Exchange Programs for summer 2023? 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 10-16 high school students on a journey abroad. Youth Program leaders facilitate an immersion exchange program in the U.S. for 3-4 weeks with youth from Iraq, Canada, and Latin America. If you would like to receive more information and a notification when the application opens this fall, email [email protected].
SIT’s Critical Conversations Webinar series received a top award for Innovation in Marketing & Digital Media from GoAbroad.com. The award recognizes creative, visionary approaches and original ideas in marketing, advertising, and digital media. It was presented on June 2 during the NAFSA conference in Denver, Colorado. SIT launched the Critical Conversations Webinar Series in fall 2020, at the height of the pandemic. It allowed SIT to maintain a presence in the global education community during a prolonged shutdown when study abroad programs were canceled, and students and faculty were not in classrooms. Look for information this spring!
Want a t-shirt or a hoodie? Something with an Experiment logo? Check out the online stores for The Experiment, SIT Study Abroad, SIT Graduate Institute, and World Learning!
About the Organization
Scholarships for The Experiment and SIT programs may be available to Experiment or SIT alumni and their family members.
The Experiment in International Living provides immersive summer programs abroad and online for high school students. Intercultural connections between young people are now more important than ever. The world is ready to recover and rise to new challenges, and The Experiment is committed to working together across cultures. Accepting applications for summer 2023 this fall. experiment.org
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. Now accepting applications for summer and fall 2023 programs. studyabroad.sit.edu
SIT Graduate Institute offers global, full-time, and part-time, hybrid master’s degrees, certificates, and professional development programs. SIT this year will also begin accepting applications for the second cohort of our highly competitive 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. Browse the 2022-2023 Viewbook. 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