The AFS community is saddened by the passing of Dr. Janet Bennet, founder of the Intercultural Communication Institute (ICI), one of the pioneers in the intercultural field, and a great friend of AFS.
“Her life’s work was building bridges among cultural differences, softening barriers to living life with cultural others, and probing the mysteries of unknown places and peoples,” published the ICI following the news of Janet Bennett’s passing on January 28, 2022. AFS is proud of having had to chance to collaborate and learn from Janet Bennett, and we are forever grateful for the work we shared, including:
- The years of collaboration on the Summer Institute for Intercultural Communication (SIIC) that allowed for many AFS staff and volunteers from around the globe to be trained in state-of-art intercultural learning,
- Janet Bennett’s invaluable contributions and training at numerous AFS events, including the 2016 AFS Academy in Hungary, and a special advanced workshop for AFS intercultural trainers,
- The writings and training resources Janet Bennett developed which became foundational for AFS’ intercultural materials, curriculum and activities.
AFS volunteers and staff from around the world reflected on Janet Bennett’s work and impact:
- “AFS owes a lot to Janet Bennett, it’s impossible to quantify the impact her work has had on us. From the way we train intercultural trainers to the intercultural tools she developed – she has influenced all AFS students, volunteers and staff around the world, and are forever grateful for her contributions to the intercultural field.”—Sarah Collins, AFS International
- “While Janet was in Budapest for an AFS event, it struck me how intentional she was about visiting different parts of the city, neighborhoods that were under-resourced, because she wanted to have a more complete understanding of the city and not just think that see the beautiful parts that tourists always see.”—Gabor Csikos, AFS Hungary
- “Being at the SIIC was an unforgettable experience. Meeting such an international, diverse and cross-cultural group of people made me feel the uniqueness of the event. Thanks to Janet, we all grew and she made us feel empowered enough to contribute to a better and more just and peaceful world.”—Mary-Paz González Vila, AFS Spain
- “It was through the generosity of Janet that I had my truly first experience with academic education through SIIC. I felt like I got an honest to real masters degree with the courses I took, and a delightful warm experience meeting and having fun with other participants and teachers. Janet really wanted to impart the principles of intercultural learning to as many as she could, and from my observation she walked the talk. I will always be grateful.”—Carolyn Rhen, AFS-USA
- “I had the good fortune to take training under Ms. Janet Bennett at the Summer Institute for Intercultural Communication at Portland, Oregon. It was like a dream come true, she was an epitome of intercultural learning, humility personified. She had a gentle yet very powerful way of facilitating that would mesmerize her audiences. She had so much to share, I have no words to express my gratitude to be in her sessions.”—Sarita Badhwar, AFS India
- “It was a great honor to be Janet’s student at SIIC. In her class she used her magic to explain the different stages of the DMIS (denial, defense, minimization, acceptance, adaptation and integration) and from then on, DMIS was not that hard for me. Dr. Janet Bennett, please have a good rest. We will remember you and what you did for AFS and intercultural learning.”—Di yan (known as Didi), AFS China
- “It was a dream come true to be able to attend a workshop facilitated by two stalwarts of intercultural learning, namely Dr. Janet Bennett and Dr. Michael Paige at SIIC in 2016. It was a very transformative experience for me as I got to hone my skills as a trainer by observing them. In Dr.Bennett I could see an amazing level of intercultural facilitation competence. May her soul rest in peace.”—Ajay Mehta, AFS India
- “I had the honor to attend SIIC twice as an AFS staff member, and in 2016 I took a 1-week course led by Janet. It was such an enriching experience to learn first-hand from such a masterful trainer and reference in the intercultural field. I’m incredibly grateful for her openness to collaborate, share her knowledge and foster a true community of practice for those working with intercultural learning.”—Ana Carolina (Carol) Cassiano, AFS International