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World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: International, Promotion of International Understanding

Mission: The World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting a deeper understanding of key contemporary international issues throughout Western Pennsylvania. Established in 1931, the Council is committed to informing opinion leaders and decision-makers about developments around the world as they unfold – and to educating them about the relevance of such developments to the region. The Council has a special focus on secondary schools throughout the region, and works to give students and teachers a more nuanced understanding of the global issues of our time.

Target demographics: educate the community about current world affairs.

Programs: Through its Education Programs the Council works with students and teachers in secondary schools throughout the region. Each year the Council organizes and hosts over 100 events focused on the foreign policy challenges which lie ahead for the successor generation. These events are tailored to a student audience, and reach a combined total of over 11,000 students and teachers in nearly 300 area schools. As a result of these activities – and through the use of modern technology – students in Western Pennsylvania have had the opportunity to engage each other as well as their counterparts in secondary schools from as far away as Brazil, Italy, the Republic of Georgia, South Africa, and Taiwan. The Council also conducts a range of Public Policy Programs for the professional community. Each year, the Council hosts approximately 10 luncheon discussions with major international leaders. Past speakers have included Condoleezza Rice, Thomas Friedman, Turkish Ambassador Namik Tan, and Former Prime Minister of South Korea, Ambassador Han Duk-Soo. The Council also uses other formats – such as breakfast briefings and evening discussion programs – to attract more younger and mid-career professionals to its events and engage them in a discussion of these issues.

Community Stories

65 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I started attending World Affairs Council events when I was a student in high school outside of Pittsburgh. Early on, this organization provided spaces and opportunities for students to be active participants in activities that shaped our outward thinking, particularly important for those of us whose small towns couldn't hold in our dreams of engaging with the whole big world, its people and cultures. In my junior year, my high school geography teacher nominated me for the WAC's Global Travel Scholar award, the Council's yearly scholarship that sponsors high students to participate in the Experiment in International Living summer program abroad. I still remember everything about the moment I received the phone call from Annie, who told me that the Council had chosen me to go to Turkey. Those 5 weeks in Turkey were the most defining time of my life, which I was able to have all because of the World Affairs Council. They saw that spark inside of me--the one that wanted to know all it could about the rest of the world-- and provided me with the experience that set it wildly aflame.

The World Affairs Council provides a place for students who want to engage with the world, who look outside of their own life experiences and yearn to understand those of others, who have the makings of Global Citizens. My relationship with the Council did not end after my summer as a Global Travel Scholar. David Murdoch, the then chairman of the board, became one of my closest mentors. He, along with the other members of the Council, always encouraged and supported me throughout every single step of my journey from college to beyond. The work that the Council does is crucial. In our world where the divisions between different peoples and cultures are only widening, the work that the WAC does, from high school global events to sending students across the world to live with host families and immerse themselves in another culture, is the work that is going to repair and strengthen the ties between us all as a humanity. It's a big statement, but after seeing the wonders that WAC and their Global Travel Scholars program accomplishes and the transformations that occur within students as they begin their journeys as Global Citizens, I firmly stand by it. I, for one, would not be where I am now without the World Affairs Council, and I am so thankful that they are there continuing their work for students like me.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

The WAC of Pittsburgh is an outstanding organization. They perform tremendous outreach to schools for both students and teachers. Their programming is high quality and serves to promote greater awareness of the impact foreign affairs have on the United Stares. The organization does an exemplary job of promoting greater understanding of global issues and cultures.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

In my role as a high school teacher, the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh has provided exceptional opportunities to both my students and me. From sending me on an academic expedition to the European Union (Brussels and Vienna) to exposing students to top military experts from the U.S. Army War College, the World Affairs Council never stops working toward its mission of making students and teachers more globally aware. I can emphatically say that the World Affairs Council has propelled both me and my students to be highly engaged in the critical issues that shape the future of both our country and the world.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

The student engagement and educational programs are excellent. They support and provide students experiences in World events that are timely and relevant. World leaders and local experts provide instruction and information in a variety of ways: Video conferences, educational programs , summer courses and a certificate program for students who desire to specialize in global affairs and leadership . The council also sponsors two leadership conferences a year for students to engage with other local, national and International experts and students. They are one of the most engaged and active support programs for high school students. Every month the Council opens its doors to students and educators to their professional programs, in addition to the planned programs they offer. They actively reach out to all schools and students and especially support social and cultural diversity with whom they target their outreach. They are however, inherently diverse with the experiences they offer. The World Affairs Council exemplifies diversity. They may be the only way local students can meet with world leaders and discuss world events. But I suggest it is the mission of bringing together people of all racial, religious, social and ethnic backgrounds that the World Affairs Council best serves their mission. We are very fortunate to have them as a resource in our area . The pictures included are a few images of the programs sponsored by the Council and our participation within the last school year.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I only became involved with the WAC of Pittsburgh this summer, but already it has provided me with so many incredible and life-changing opportunities. The people there are great and through the WAC, my eyes have truly been opened in regards to what I'm capable of and what I'd like to do later in life.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

In my first year as a teacher in 1975 I became involved with the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh. Forty-one years later I am amazed and in awe of the work of the Council in providing the city and region of Pittsbugh a global perspective. The region has gone from one of an industrial global center to now the center of technology, innovation and medicine. The World Affairs Council has been there every step of the way providing experiences and insight to our world. Today as they did when I first experience their mission over forty years ago they provide the teachers and students the opportunity to understand their world and their place in the world.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have worked with the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh for 4 years in my role as Enrichment Facilitator at Hampton High School. Their educational outreach programs have been invaluable to my students. World Affairs Pittsburgh has provided my students with leadership opportunities, travel experiences, international videoconference planning and global scholar certificates. They are a 21st century skills promoting organization that has been a welcome partner in our educational endeavors.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I became involved with the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh in my sophomore year of high school through their Global Leadership Certificate program. They did an exceptional job of developing and laying out this program, and it is the most valuable experience I have ever had. I had to complete internationally-focused experiences and then write reflections upon them, as well as completing two larger projects, one being a capstone that served as the final experience. The point of this final experience is essentially to apply what you have learned about the world to something in your local life. What I chose to do was start an international news broadcast through my school's video announcements. I write the stories about the biggest international events at the time, I anchor the show, and I edit the segment. Producing this segment made me realize that I wanted to be a journalist, which I have only the World Affairs Council to thank for. Truly, the World Affairs Council is a life-changing organization and it has helped me not only to learn more about the world around me, but also about myself. Working with the World Affairs Council and the wonderful people who put their heart and soul into its programming and success has been one of the greatest honors I have ever had, and I encourage anyone and everyone to participate in the countless events and experiences that the World Affairs Council puts on. It will truly be life-changing.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am well-acquainted with the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh through its Global Leadership Certificate (GLC) high school program. The council has given me valuable opportunities to develop my leadership skills, as well as to learn about global issues, international perspectives, and world cultures. For example, I was able to star in a diversity documentary, "Around the World in Pittsburgh" by the Nicholas Sparks Foundation (in cooperation with the World Affairs Council) to share my culture with an extensive audience. Not only was I able to speak about my heritage, but I was also able to discover new cultures and form precious friendships with like-minded students. I cannot thank the World Affairs Council enough for these precious experiences. I am greatly appreciative of the council taking time and effort to nurture my leadership skills, and more importantly, help me gain a cosmopolitan view of the increasingly interconnected, diverse world. What the Council has taught me will certainly enlighten my future, as I plan on interacting and working with people around the world - many of whom have varying backgrounds and perspectives on different issues/matters. It is extremely important to learn of diversity early to facilitate mutual understanding and respect.

I am truly grateful to the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh for kindly and continually supporting my worldly leadership. The council is a remarkable nonprofit organization that values educating and supporting the community.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Through the World Affairs Council, I have been exposed to opportunities that I never could have imagined being able to do before. As a senior in a local high school, the Council has offered me countless opportunities at minimum costs that I have enjoyed greatly. From attending a conference on US-Cuban relations to a panel in which Muslim community leaders discussed the impacts that the election has had on their lives, the events and speakers that I have attended have enriched my learning and given me perspectives that I never would have considered. All too often we only hear one side of a story, and it was very refreshing to be able to hear the other side of the story, especially when it came to how Muslims felt about the 2016 election. By organizing this event, they were able to give a view that very few would have been able to see.

I am also a participant with an online program sponsored by the Council, which focuses on global issues and allows us a space to freely discuss current events and other interesting developments in the world. It also provides us with the ability to learn more about the world around us, which I very much enjoyed, since we were able to discuss topics that we were passionate about and learn new things as well.

It is also through the Council that I was able to better explore my cultural identity. As a first generation immigrant from China, I am very curious about other cultures, and the World Affairs Council partnered with the Nicholas Sparks Foundation to create a short documentary. (LinK: https://vimeo.com/165179621). It is because of these opportunities that I have been able to explore my passion, and a large part of why I decided to major in International Relations in college is due to the experiences that the World Affairs Council has offered me. The World Affairs Council offers truly phenomenal experiences that has really broadened my views of the world around me.

1 Emma29

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I found the World Affairs Council as a student and they helped me connect to some amazing speakers in my area on subjects I was really interested in! The speakers come from all walks of life and I've learnes to just go to as many as I can get to. They also run a great new free Global Leadership certificate for high school students that connects us with other kids in the Pittsburgh area also interested in our role as members of the world and global affairs in general. It has an online component, but my favorite part is meeting the kids who participate and attending the events that are a part of it. Everyone who works for the WAC is super helpful and passionate about what they do.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

I cannot say enough good things about the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh. In my more than 7-year relationship with the Council, they have done more to expand my students' understanding of global affairs than any other classroom supplement. WAC Pittsburgh listens to teachers and students and go above and beyond to create personal relationships with schools. They bring interesting speakers to my students (in person, and via videoconference), organize a global trivia competition-- Academic WorldQuest-- and support students in achieving global travel with their Global Travel Scholarship. I've sent students to France, South Africa, India, and Peru through the council. Recently they've added a Global Leadership Certificate to help students quantify their global affairs experiences. The World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh is an invaluable resource within the Pittsburgh region, and the best nonprofit that I've had a chance to work with directly.

Previous Stories
1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My first experience with the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh was through an International Student Summit held at our school in 2010. The video conferencing opportunities that they have partnered in have been invaluable to my students. Last year my World History classes travelled to Pitt’s campus to learn about Polio. The event there connected students in Western PA with schools around the world, including the Roots school in Pakistan. Later, they read a book by Dr. Trita Parsi (with donations and help from WAC) and then we hosted a video conference where our students represented countries debating Iran’s nuclear status. This year World Affairs brought us Dr. Seth Jones from the RAND corporation to teach our students about Afghanistan and Al Qa’ida. Our students moderated the news talk-show style event and schools in Western PA, Alaska, Texas, and Wisconsin tuned in. With help from our local AIU and WAC we were able to bring in a local news personality, Ken Rice, to help prepare our moderators and producers for our Afghanistan conference. In the Iran and the recent Afghanistan projects, my department was intimately involved in the planning and execution of the conferences. Dr. Sokol and Ms. Mahsoob care about my input as a teacher and listen to suggestions from teachers and students to make these conferences work for us. I had 11th grade students from last year come up to me and ask why they didn’t get to participate in the 10th grade’s Afghanistan conference!

Partnering with the World Affairs Council has also opened up many other opportunities for my students. This will be the third year that I will have a team participating in Academic World Quest. This competition is fun for the kids, and gets them to focus on world geography, flags, history, health, and more. Some of my students have participated in other academic competitions before, but they remark that World Quest is so fun that they actually can enjoy themselves. I know that this might seem unimportant, but they also make sure to provide vegetarian options at these events. Additionally, they will talk directly to the students, answering questions face-to-face, or even via email. It’s great that World Affairs offers opportunities for my students, but as a teacher, it’s even better that they clearly care deeply and validate the young people in our region.

I could stop there, but it gets better. Last year I nominated a student for the Global Travel Scholarship offered every year in partnership with the Experiment in International Living. The lengthy process was grueling, but in March last year we got the news that one of my 11th grade students was chosen for the travel abroad scholarship-- a 5-week summer tour in France. She spent 5 weeks in France going to Paris, to provincial France to learn the language, and to Lyon to learn the art of French cooking. Her life and the trajectory of her life has been changed forever. Because of the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh she had the chance to travel abroad as a seventeen year old, and it has opened her eyes to new possibilities. Word has traveled around our small school about the opportunity to spend time abroad the summer before senior year. Our kids are starting to think globally.

I am constantly thankful for the partnership that my school has with the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh. I teach in a small school district, and many of my kids have not been outside of this state, let alone to another country. The World Affairs Council has brought international studies to the forefront of my classes. They care about Pittsburgh youth, and they work closely with teachers to make sure that what they provide to us is meaningful in our classrooms. The authentic learning opportunities that they offer through hosting and participating in videoconferences is helping my students understand and connect with people all over the country and the world. I could not recommend this organization enough.

1

Client Served

Rating: 4

Had the wonderful pleasure of working again this year with the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh. Early in the school year my students participated in a video conference. The preparation guide was so thorough and also extremely manageable. My students were exceptionally prepared, but I did not have to relinquish a large amount of class time. In February I took a group of students to compete at the Academic World Quest. The competition never disappoints. It is both challenging and fun for all involved. Thank you World Affairs for giving both my students and myself a way to extend our learning.

Previous Stories
1

Client Served

Rating: 5

The World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh has provided my students the opportunity to experience global connections without leaving the building. The Council puts forth video conference opportunities open to students 9-12 whereby each learner researches, prepares, and discusses pertinent world issues using modern technology and teachers as facilitators. As a World Geography and Cultures instructor this fruitful involvement with learners from the global community provides genuine and authentic learning. Without the Council’s incentives and support my students would have missed a true cultural experience.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

In an increasingly globalized world, our region is blessed to have the World Affairs Council. The international connections and outreach and the intellectual stimulation the Council provides for our students is unmatched and unparalleled. Whether students meet with staff members from international diplomatic corps, international corporate professionals, university professors, or with officers from the U.S. Army War College, every Council program is relevant and thought provoking. I am proud of the Council's 80 year history of stewardship to the young people of our region and am honored to be an educator that is member of this outstanding organization.

Bill Soff
Hempfield Area High School
Greensburg, PA

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

The World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh provides extraordinary opportunities to students! I want to send them major appreciation for the Academic World Quest competition, which encourages students to study a wide range of current event related topics, then demonstrate their knoweldge in a team competition. My students love it, and I am so glad we are invited to particpate. We would never have this opportunity without them!

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh has been able to provide a variety of dynamic programs and experiences to my students, building 21st century global citizens and leaders who understand their role in the world today. With the Council's help and resources, we have been able to start our own club at school, and I now have middle schoolers regularly discussing current events in a new and exciting way by talking about the ethics of governance, our moral obligations, and their role in making a positive difference in this world!

Previous Stories
2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Pittsburgh's World Affairs Council has brought a variety of programs to the students at Our Lady of Grace School in Scott Township for several years. From global video conferences to international speakers, we have been able to collaborate with the council on a number of in-school programs. As a result of the interest sparked by the World Affairs Council, we have developed a world affairs club for students in grades 5-8.

Our students actually look forward to spending the extra time learning about their role in a global society, and they LOVE to talk about international issues! The Council and its programs like the Student Ambassador program for middle school students have been invaluable. They have ignited a spark in our kids that continues to glow and grow stronger each year! From the first day of school, students have been asking what our international theme for the year will be and what special activities the Council has planned for us. I know that I look forward to working with the World Affairs Council just as much as my students do, and I STRONGLY encourage others to get involved!

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

Top notch organization! I am honored and proud to say that I am a Global Travel Scholar. The World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh awarded me a phenomenal expedition...one that I'll never forget. Traveling to Japan was a life changing journey. It allowed me to gain a better appreciation for other cultures as well as my own. The staff of the organization are very professional, courteous and thorough. A "hands-on"approach throughout the entire process. Kept us well informed and encouraged you to call upon them with any questions or concerns you had. The World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh made a dream a reality. I was truly thrilled to visit anime production companies, magna studios, and neighborhoods famous for contemporary art. I have greatly benefited from this highly rewarding experience and feel strongly that i will be able to relate my experience in Japan to my academic and professional goals.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

The World Affairs Council provides people with the opportunity to discover cultures all across the globe. The organization makes something that is otherwise very difficult, possible. Being able to understand another culture on the most authentic scale of interaction and immersion, is a wonderful experience, and creates international thinkers. Being able to accept other cultures and thinking internationally can help bring the world together, and The World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh is a strong driving force of this in our city.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

The World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh is a first-class organization. As a school teacher, I have used their programming many times to benefit my students. Each time, they have shown a willingness to not only provide a comprehensive experience, but also accommodate any of my specific needs. I have donated money for a number of years.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

The World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh is an invaluable resource to many schools. The programs the WACP are like none other offered in the region, and students gain unique and enriching knowledge and experiences from the great variety of programs they offer.