This year’s Virtual Exchange Academy, organized and run by the Stevens Initiative, a key AFS partner and strong ally in the international education field, featured 80 educators from 20 countries and territories from around the world to address the current state and future opportunities of virtual exchange education.

Sarita Badwhar, educator, AFS India’s volunteer and Qualified Facilitator for the Global Up programs, was one of the selected participants who attended the event from March to April 2022. The Virtual Exchange Academy prepared Sarita and other high-profile educators and higher education leaders to bring virtual exchange to their schools, institutions, or organizations as part of a larger global education plan.

“Taking part in the 2022 Virtual Exchange Academy was deeply inspiring and empowering. It was a great opportunity to learn from the mentors like Henry Shephard, Gabi Hunt and Haili Lewis”, said Sarita. “The modules introduced were strategically designed and they helped to learn more about global education and the ongoing journey towards making virtual exchange a sustained learning tool, mediated through technology.”

The Stevens Initiative is well known for building global competence and career readiness skills for young people through virtual exchange. In March 2021, they generously awarded a research grant to AFS to participate in The Stevens Initiative’s “Strengthening the Field: Catalyzing Research in Virtual Exchange”, which looked into the efficacy of virtual exchange in strengthening high school students’ global competence by analyzing the AFS Global You Adventurer program.

We are proud of Sarita’s contribution to Steven Initiative’s Virtual Exchange Academy, which strengthens our partnership and contributes to the development of our key collaborators and qualified facilitators.

“What I have really appreciated was the interactive democratic environment of the synchronous sessions that inspired us to critically think, practice curiosity and thereby bringing different and equally diverse perspectives to the ground”, Sarita concluded.

The Global Up is an interactive blended learning program that equips learners with tangible global competence skills through versions developed for different age-groups and audiences, and it counts with expert guidance and mentorship by Qualified Facilitators of the program, like Sarita herself.

Learn more about the different versions of the Global Up programs here.