Wednesday October 3, 2012

BRATTLEBORO -- Leadership is needed at every level of a community, from the street to the board room, to an agency office to the classroom.

During a celebration of its 80th anniversary, World Learning is hosting a symposium Thursday evening that’s aimed at shining a light on effective leaders.

"A Defining Leadership Moment" will kick off a series of events that examine the nature and need for leadership at both grassroots and global levels.

"One of the themes that is really important to us is enabling the enhancement of learning how to be a leader," said Amy Green, manager of alumni and donor relations.

World Learning is hosting a panel of speakers who are all leaders in their own way, said Green.

"They’ll share their stories of how leadership brought them to where they are and will be exploring what it means to be a leader," she said.

Confirmed speakers include: James Arinaitwe, Global Health Fellow, Global Health Corps, SIT Graduate Institute, 2012; Ellen McCulloch-Lovell, president, Marlboro College, Experiment in International Living, India 1967; Elisabeth Tweedy McMorris, SIT Graduate Institute, 2012, Experiment in International Living, Chile 2002 and China 2004; Jessica Greer Morris, MPH, executive director, Project Girl Performance Collective, SIT Study Abroad, Brazil 1989; Jim Putnam, former president of MARKEM Corporation, active member of the Keene, N.H., City Council, served on the boards of Monadnock United Way, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, and the Putnam Foundation; participant, 2012 World Learning Ethiopia site visit; and Ken Williams, associate professor, SIT Graduate Institute, Department of Intercultural Service, Leadership and Management.

"We’re celebrating a very proud history but also enabling the whole community to experience the relevance of our mission today by having the opportunity of hearing from people shaped in part by a World Learning experience," said Lisa Gurwitch, senior vice president of Institutional Advancement, External Relations.

Gurwitch, who traveled to Mexico and Spain as a participant in the Experiment in International Living, said it’s incredibly rewarding to be part of an organization that is celebrating its 80th anniversary of making a positive impact on the world.

Green said all of the speakers have an affiliation with World Learning. She said it wasn’t difficult to get them to agree to speak at the symposium.

"We want to share with our community what we are doing, where we plan to go and how to help each other," said Green. "No one person can make it happen. It really does take a village."

Gurwitch said World Learning thanked the many local businesses and sponsors who are supporting the Oct. 4 symposium, which is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. in the Stephen and Nita Lowey International Center. It will be moderated by Susan Keese of Vermont Public Radio and will include remarks from President and CEO Adam Weinberg and Board Chairwoman Rosamond Delori.

The evening will conclude with a reception that highlights local food and beverages and features a musical performance by students from the Brattleboro Music Center.

World Learning is the parent organization of the Experiment in International Living, the SIT Graduate Institute, SIT Study Abroad and the International Honors Program.

When the first Experiment in International Living group departed New York in June 1932 on a ship bound for Germany, the 23 students on board became trailblazers for thousands who have followed in their footsteps, building friendships and learning to walk across differences. The students on that first program returned home with a transformed outlook on the world and new skills to communicate with others.

As the program evolved, World Learning’s mission evolved along with it, creating programs to help ease human suffering and build local self-reliance in communities around the world. Today, World Learning is on the ground in nearly 20 developing countries, working with AIDS orphans, trafficked children, women’s groups, and others to build local capacity for change.

When Sargent Shriver, a participant in the Experiment in International Living in 1934, was tapped in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy to lead the Peace Corps, he drew on his experiences with The Experiment, forging a bond between the two organizations that has strengthened over time. In 1964, the SIT Graduate Institute (formerly the School for International Training) was founded as a training center for the first generation of Peace Corps Volunteers. Today, SIT Graduate Institute offers a robust set of graduate and continuing education programs designed to meet the pressing need for trained professionals with the skills to address global issues.

Over the last 75 years, World Learning’s programs have changed the lives of more than 100,000 people, including Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, and Nobel Peace Prize winners Jody Williams and Wangari Maathai. Today, through study abroad, graduate education, and community projects, World Learning helps 3,000 Americans a year become more effective global citizens and supports countless others to improve their lives and become leaders of change in their communities.

For more information or to request a formal invitation, visit www.worldlearning.org/events or send an e-mail to events@worldlearning.org.

Bob Audette can be reached at raudette@reformer.com, or at 802-254-2311, ext. 160. Follow Bob on Twitter @audette.reformer.