According to U.S. Department of State, International Education Week (IEW) is an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. This joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education is part of our efforts to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences.

Here at The Experiment, we are no stranger to the benefits of a summer abroad, especially for high school students. What started back in 1932 as a genuine (lower case “e”) experiment abroad, has yielded now 70,000 alumni in its eight and a half decades since. Its goal was to promote peace and understanding across cultures, one friendship at a time.

But how do you promote peace through understanding?

The first step in peace-building is to create empathy, which allows you to openly see all perspectives, not just your own. It encourages you to listen more than you talk. The Experiment allows each participant to gain broader understanding by living with a homestay family.

The Experiment in Peru. 

The homestay is the cornerstone of all 33 Experiment programs running in 2017. Starting in just our second year in 1933, the homestay allowed for a more profound experience, wherein spending 24 hours a day with a family was most impactful for participants.

Imagine having dinner with your homestay family the first night of your stay. You immediately notice the differences: language, food, entertainment, customs, etc. But then after spending more time with them, those differences become normalized for you, and something amazing happens.

The Experiment in Mongolia

You start to realize that your similarities vastly outweigh your differences.  What you learn in that moment is this: there is no right or wrong way to live. If you’re from suburban United States, and you find yourself in the steppe of Mongolia, you’ll learn that their way of living isn’t up for debate. You are not there to judge, you are there to observe. That doesn’t mean you are not to question anything. It means to not impose your perspective onto them.

The Experiment in Morocco.

International Education Week reminds us of the work that needs to be done to create a more peaceful, understanding, and just world. On fostering the next generation of globally-minded young leaders. And how do we do that?

One friendship at a time.

Experience The Experiment for yourself. See here.