Evelyn Seidner embarked on a remarkable journey to India and Nepal last summer with World Learning’s The Experiment in International Living program — the same program that her mother and grandfather had done when they were about her age.
During Evelyn’s trip, she spent five days sleeping on the floor of a classroom in India with 15 fellow students and their group leaders. It was close quarters with a lack of reliable electricity to operate fans and A/C. But, it was an experience she will not soon forget.
“I will remember that part of the trip because it was really when I made the strongest connections with everyone in my group,” she said. “It was just such an intense bonding experience.”
“I’m really glad I had the opportunity to do it and see a part of the world that I had never seen before with other students who were from all across the United States.”
The Experiment, World Learning’s flagship program, has been offering immersive experiential learning programs abroad since 1932. The programs give students the opportunity to explore the world in a personal, meaningful way and develop new, lasting friendships through hands-on experiences in local communities and homestays on five continents.
Evelyn joined the 2019 Experiment Leadership Institute, a highly competitive program that augments international travel with a leadership seminar in Washington, D.C. and project planning sessions at World Learning headquarter in Vermont.
“I’m really glad I had the opportunity to do it and see a part of the world that I had never seen before with other students who were from all across the United States — and all across the world too — and who were all my age,” she said.
Evelyn is a third-generation Experimenter. Her mother, Diane Rosenmiller, went to Switzerland in 1987 with The Experiment, and her grandfather Fred Rosenmiller went to France with the program in 1952.
“It was very meaningful to me, and as a result, I was instrumental in having two of my four daughters go on The Experiment,” Fred said. “Diane has created the third generation by sending Evelyn to India, so we’re three generations and all the experiences were very positive.”
Evelyn explained that she would not have been able to do this program if her mother hadn’t told her about it. “She gave me the initial opportunity to apply, which was really meaningful,” Evelyn said.
All three Experimenters emphasized the challenging yet rewarding experience of learning to communicate in another language during their programs.
Fred stated that the most influential part of his trip was being placed in a family that did not speak English. That immersion into French culture pushed him to gain a strong command of the language.
“I was dreaming in French and everything else,” he said. “I was so proud of my French accomplishment.”
Diane also stayed with a French-speaking family during her program. Both Diane and Evelyn noted what an immense learning experience it was figuring out how to communicate in different ways and learn about their families.
“I think the homestay for me was definitely really special,” Evelyn said. “I was living with another family for almost two weeks … over the course of it, I really was able to form a bond with them and learn a little bit about how they live, and they were able to teach me some Hindi.”
Evelyn’s homestay brother taught her to write her name in Hindi, and they played countless games of Uno together.
“Whether it was my homestay family or our in-country leader … I met some really awesome people, and we’re all still in touch.”
Evelyn, Diane, and Fred not only gained considerable language skills from their time as Experimenters, but they also developed lasting friendships and connections.
“I guess my favorite part would just be having the opportunity to meet so many new and amazing people both who were within my group and people that we met along the way,” Evelyn said. “Whether it was my homestay family or our in-country leader … I met some really awesome people, and we’re all still in touch.”
Evelyn’s mother built strong connections with her group during a mountain climbing adventure in Zermatt that was both exhilarating and taxing.
“I remember climbing up this ladder to get into the hostel … but we were way, way up high,” she said with a laugh. “And you know, at times, we were all chained together, or roped together, with crampons and ice picks … It was very exciting carrying packs up there and a lot of good adventure for me as an 18-year-old.”