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Global Education

Celebrating 37 Years of Uniting Our World Through Global Learning

This week, Participate Learning celebrates 37 years of uniting our world through global learning. What started out as one family’s dedication to global education and cultural exchange has blossomed into an organization that has positively impacted thousands of teachers and students. 

Participate Learning, formerly known as Visiting International Faculty and later VIF International Education, was founded in 1987 by Dr. Fred Young to celebrate and promote the value of international perspectives in U.S. education. Today, his family remains committed to fulfilling this mission, carrying on the legacy of meaningful cultural exchange.

As we celebrate this anniversary, we want to reflect on the amazing work of our Ambassador Teachers over the years, as well as the impact of Participate Learning programs.

Uniting our world through global learning

Today, Participate Learning partners with schools and districts to develop language proficiency and cultural competency. We do this through our teacher cultural exchange program, dual language immersion programs, and the Global Leaders framework.

Since 1987, we have placed and supported thousands of international K-12 teachers in U.S. classrooms and have become the largest BridgeUSA, the U.S. Department of State Exchange Visitor Program, sponsor in the teacher category. Participate Learning’s Ambassador Teachers gain new skills, form life-changing connections, and make a lasting impact on their students.

Since the 2007–2008 school year, Participate Learning’s Spanish and Mandarin Chinese Dual Language Programs have provided authentic, immersive learning experiences for students. Being bilingual and biliterate improves academic performance, enhances cognitive skills, and readies students for future careers. 

Participate Learning’s Global Leaders framework prepares students to succeed in our interconnected world. By integrating global issues, current events, and global competencies into existing school priorities, we’re preparing students for a modern workforce. With Global Leaders, students are taught to think critically about the world around them, becoming engaged global citizens.

Through all of these programs, Participate Learning strives to make the world a more peaceful place for everyone, where diverse perspectives are honored and celebrated. 

Social and environmental impact 

Participate Learning’s commitment to making the world a better place is also reflected in our environmental and social impact. We hold ourselves to the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and accountability to balance profit and purpose. 

Participate Learning has also been named a Top Impact Company by Real Leaders magazine for the sixth consecutive year. The awards—which received more than 500 applications from 15+ countries—asked 30 questions within six categories of I.M.P.A.C.T. (Intention, Model, People, Accountability, Collaboration, and Transformation) to vet and rank privately owned companies based on those parameters. 

Using this criteria, the 2024 list recognizes 300 companies that are “driving a dynamic segment of the economy…demonstrat[ing] every transaction is an opportunity for growth and a better world.”

This designation shows the deep commitment that Participate Learning’s employees, Ambassador Teachers, and school partners have to uniting our world, broadening perspectives, and providing quality education experiences to young people. 

Looking to the future

As we reflect on 37 years of positively impacting students and communities, we want to continue providing best-in-class service and support to our partner schools and Ambassador Teachers. We believe global education and cultural exchange empower students and educators to create a better future.

“Since 1987, we’ve worked diligently to provide global experiences to students and teachers through K-12 education. We believe it’s critical to the future of our planet, to pursuing peace, and to making a difference by behaving locally in ways that support common global needs,” said David Young, Participate Learning’s CEO.

“I hope my legacy will be that we make the world a better place for our kids and our grandkids.”

As we celebrate Participate Learning’s 37th anniversary, we would love to hear from you! As a VIF or Participate Learning alumni, what memory or experience would you like to share about your time in the program? You can tag us on social media and use the hashtag #UnitingOurWorld.

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