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2021 Year in Review

Our 2021 Year in Review celebrates our milestones from a year dedicated to making virtual exchange possible for young people around the world.

This year, 99,703 of you spent around 3,330 hours exploring our website. That’s the equivalent to 221 Boeing 777-300 jumbo jets full of passengers. Thank you for supporting our work by reading our publications, stories, announcements, and all that we share on our website.

22 virtual exchange scholars became alchemists by participating in new virtual exchange research sponsored by the Stevens Initiative. Through their unique contribution to the field of virtual exchange research, each alchemist catalyzed the field by turning research into gold.

We launched the second cohort of Stevens Initiative Connected Classrooms and had 49 faculty from 19 cities in Morocco, the UAE, and the U.S. The virtual exchanges started this fall and included topics like engineering, fashion, innovation and entrepreneurship, and marketing. From Oregon’s city of roses to the city of love in Morocco to the city of lights in the UAE, virtual exchange can be implemented anywhere and focus on any topic.

We regularly share opportunities with our alumni community through bimonthly newsletters. This year, our newsletters were opened 23,070 times. If each newsletter were one page, then the number of newsletters opened by our alumni this year would be the same length as 58 full novels. That’s a lot of opportunities to continue learning and connecting!

Virtual exchange seemingly has its own language – words and phrases like “synchronous” and “asynchronous” and “time zones” take on a new meaning when implementing a program. Facilitators are central to understanding the ins and outs of virtual exchange as they take participants through a program and provide them with a meaningful international experience. And just as with learning a new language, it requires practice (or better yet, practice with a partner) to get it right. In 2021, Initiative-supported programs prepared over 600 adults and near-peers to become proficient in the unique language of virtual exchange.

The Stevens Initiative and the institutions we support reach young people across the U.S. and the MENA region. This year, our grantees reached as many new institutions through virtual exchange programming as there are skyscrapers in Dubai (and that’s a lot!). This includes 67 schools, 137 higher education institutions, and 26 civil society and non-profit organizations.

Your responses to the 2021 Survey of Virtual Exchange Field Report were vast and expansive. All together, 230 virtual exchange organizations provided insights into how virtual exchanges are conducted, spending approximately 115 hours responding to the Survey of the Virtual Exchange Field. In the same number of hours, you could walk the entire Grand Canyon almost twice.

The number of open-enrollment virtual exchange programs we support increased by 150% this year. These programs, which educators can share with young people through our new Mobilize Youth Participation pathway, allow young people in the U.S. and MENA region to parachute into an international experience from anywhere.

Ten Stevens Initiative alumni used their virtual megaphones to let the world know about their virtual exchange, sharing about the impact of their programs by contributing an alumni success story.

Our 2021 Virtual Exchange Academy participants joined us for four weeks of learning, coming from 10 different time zones spanning from Pacific to Gulf Standard. Some participants were eating breakfast while others were finishing dinner as they learned more about virtual exchange and how to bring it to young people in their communities. When it came to food, one thing we had in common was our love for potatoes, evidenced by our first meeting together where we all shared our favorite way to eat this starchy treat.

Our team spent 444 hours in one-on-one meetings with educators, administrators, and youth organizers sharing about the value of virtual exchange. That’s equivalent to watching the entire Harry Potter movie series 22.5 times!

This was a year of firsts for our program. We published our first Arabic-language resource, the Virtual Exchange Typology. This resource will help even more people understand key terms and concepts in the virtual exchange field.

We pledged $8.9 million to support virtual exchange programs and initiatives in 2021, marking the single-highest year of giving in the Initiative’s history. If you spent 16 hours per day counting, it would take you a little over two years to count to this number. These programs will reach nearly 40,000 young people over the next two years and include projects that challenge participants to collaboratively design game assets, engineer public health solutions, address topics like culture and identity, and much more.

We received 269 testimonials this year about how virtual exchange made a difference in the lives of young people. That’s a new quote about virtual exchange five days a week every week this year.

Our team engaged in a #WorldClassConnection, meeting together throughout the year from places around the world. We logged into Zoom from 118 backgrounds, both real and virtual.

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