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.
As an educator who has been teaching students for over a decade, I feel that there is nothing as powerful as having people from diverse cultural backgrounds work with one another and tackle problems together. Students and teachers from National Dali High School- Taiwan had the privilege to connect with their peers from USA, Greece, South Africa, Brazil, Canada and many other countries through the programs the WAC Pittsburgh has provided over the years. We have been able to debate, learn, and negotiate with peers across several continents since 2009, collaborating in real time right from our own country, an opportunity that would have otherwise been impossible without WAC. The WAC programs are extremely valuable not only because of diversity but also in that they have made it possible for the underprivileged to receive structured international education, a major breakthrough for those who will never have a chance to set foot abroad. Through each well thought-out project, WAC has enabled students along with educators to learn and seize the opportunity to strive for their best while collaborating with people around the world!