My name is Abby, and I tend to communicate best through writing. Josh, on the other hand, is probably one of the most charismatic speakers you’ll ever meet.
Josh and I met in the summer of 2008. And our journey to developing Learn2Link (L2L) began not long after that.
We were in Colorado—eking out a living and starting to feel like there had to be something more out there; there had to be another way of operating in the world.
So, in 2015, we made the leap to go and live in central Vietnam for a year. One year, however, quickly turned into two, and two into three.
When we arrived in Vietnam, we felt as though life was breathing into us, in a way that we had never experienced before. Working with young learners, as English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers, both softened and opened our hearts. And with some time, alongside our Vietnamese students, parents, co-workers, and friends, we started to uncover our shared humanity.
In 2018, we decided it was time to come back to the U.S., in order to figure out our next steps.
We knew that we wanted to give our students in Vietnam a similar opportunity for learning and growth, without the socioeconomic barriers to travel. But upon re-entry, we soon realized that the need for a global perspective was equally as great, if not more so, right here in our own backyard.
That same year, Josh and I signed up for a pilot virtual exchange program between young professionals in the U.S. and Sudan. Through that program, I met Sara, who has since become one of my closest friends.
My friendship with Sara has solidified the vast potential that exists for us to use technology as a force for good—to connect young people all over the world; to guide them to discover their shared humanity; to solve real problems in their own communities; and ultimately, to make their world a better place.*
In 2019, Josh and I traveled to Bolivia to carry out a vital seed project for L2L. By connecting young learners in Jupapina with students in New York City, we were able to witness, first-hand, the power of virtual exchange in action.
In 2021, Learn2Link received its determination to operate as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Our mission is to become a global learning network that inspires youth-led community development and peace through education.
We plan to achieve this by facilitating virtual exchange programs rooted in three core values (Empathy, Collaboration, and Respect for Diversity) and competencies (Deep listening, Mindful speech, and Self-reflection) for K-12 learners across the world.
As a young organization, we are now in the process of developing a yearlong pilot exchange between high-school-aged youth in Huế, Vietnam and Colorado Springs, Colorado. This virtual program is expected to launch in the fall of 2022 and will focus on fostering human-to-human connections and sustainable community development projects amongst our global youth.
*In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and an ongoing transition to a civilian-led government, the people of Sudan are facing enormous challenges right now.
With this, I urge you to please follow the news. (The Associated Press and Reuters are sharing ongoing coverage.) And please consider supporting reputable organizations doing critical humanitarian work in Sudan. Thank you.