This month, Federation EIL Executive Board President, Bettina Wiedmann, had the honor of participating as a delegate at the 2013 Young Leaders Conference of the Council on the United States and Italy which convened in Austin, Texas. The focus of the conference was: Roots and Borders – How personal and collective identities interact with economics in a changing world.
Representatives from several nations joined the conference, and despite their differing backgrounds (from journalism to business to law to academia), all agreed that connecting a local identity to a global identity was vital in today’s world; and that intercultural learning experiences abroad were instrumental in developing this expanded identity.
“A multidimensional identity is needed in order to form a global mindset, ” said Bettina. “And in practice, we can only build our own identity if we are educated enough, open-minded enough and – most importantly – empowered enough to do so.”
Four of the delegates, including Bettina, named their own intercultural learning experiences abroad as one of the most identity shaping experiences of their lives. “All of them were high school exchange students,” said Bettina. “As one of the oldest exchange organizations worldwide, it is the mission of The Experiment in International Living to empower young people by offering them access to intercultural experiences abroad, independent of their financial circumstances or their upbringing. It is our duty to spread the word and to make these opportunities known to people around the world. And, it is our responsibility to do everything we can to make sure that the experience is a valuable one – by guiding our participants through the experience, providing space to reflect and digest and by offering opportunities to stay involved.”
Bettina Wiedmann is the Executive Director of Experiment e.V., The Experiment in International Living, Germany; and serves as the President of the Executive Board of Federation EIL–the worldwide network of the Experiment in International Living. To read Bettina’s full report from the Young Leaders Conference on the Experiment e. V. blog, click here.