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2022 Year in Review

Our 2022 Year in Review captures last year's biggest highlights as we worked towards our vision of giving every young person the opportunity to participate in virtual exchange.

We shared 40 external articles, podcasts, and resources by researchers and thought leaders invested in making virtual exchange and international education better for all. Forty winks may be all you need for a short nap according to optician Dr. William Kitchiner, but you wouldn’t want to sleep through any of these!

Our first grant competition funded by the government of the United Arab Emirates closed in January 2022. Later in the year, we announced four new virtual exchange programs. One of these programs connects young people in Alaska, U.S., and the UAE, marking our first funded program to cross 14 time zones, our biggest jump ever.

Over 65 grantees and their implementing partners engaged with each other as a community of practice to share resources, brainstorm problems, and learn together. Despite them coming together on Slack, we couldn’t tell who was in slacks, jeans, or pajama pants, but we do know everyone is dedicated to virtual exchange.

In an effort to address diversity, equity, inclusion, and access in the virtual exchange field, we are funding the development of resources, content, and programs that fill existing gaps. These seven new projects include deaf participants in programs and the creation of curriculum around gender identity and inclusion discussions. Any way you roll it, it’s a prime number for a prime goal at the Stevens Initiative.

In 2022, we reached 12,618 young people through virtual exchange. That’s roughly the same population as the island of Nauru in Micronesia.

This year, we supported 161 pairs of courses to bring international learning to life through virtual exchange. Some of these courses were implemented by thirteen pairs of our Stevens Initiative Connected Classrooms 2022 Faculty Scholars. Many great things come in pairs, including tennis teams, peanut butter and jelly, salt and pepper, day and night, and these incredible educators.

This year, all seven teams in our first cohort of Sponsored Research Projects have had articles on their projects published in academic or practitioner outlets. That’s approximately 28,000 words describing the impact of virtual exchange published this last year. This is about the amount of words you need to know to be considered fluent in Arabic.

Our inaugural cohort of Stevens Initiative Alumni Fellows spent a total of 30 hours with one another over Zoom. That’s about the same duration as the longest plane ride in history (Australia to Sri Lanka) – nicknamed the “Double Sunrise.”

We honored Ambassador Stevens, the namesake of our program, ten years after his passing. Through a webinar, one podcast episode, an op-ed, news article, and 12 testimonials from virtual exchange participants and alumni, we commemorated his life and reflected on how his legacy is carried forward with virtual exchanges that bridge distance between young people around the world.

We published more stories on impact than ever, sharing 28 stories about virtual exchange participants and alumni. Some of these stories included our first Arabic translations and efforts to capture success and impact through audio and video. Thank you for giving us great stories to tell and for letting us record you doing it!

Virtual exchange had a significant positive effect on global competency development for over 1,600 young adults who took part in Soliya’s Stevens Initiative-funded program, according to a rigorous evaluation that compared participants to similar peers who did not participate in the program. Learn more about the impact of virtual exchange in our 2022 Impact and Learning Report. We give virtual exchange an A+!

We shared big news through our newsletter this year – our 2022 Virtual Exchange Grant Competition, our 2022 Grantees, and countless resources, announcements, and opportunities for you to engage with us. By the end of the year, we sent 28 emails to an outreach list that grew to 9,859. If you’re not on our outreach list, subscribe here.

We welcomed new team members this year, making us a team of 13! Like the lucky recipients of an extra treat in a baker’s dozen, we’re thrilled to have a team of individuals dedicated to moving forward our work.

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