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Advancing Leaders Fellowship

World Learning alumni are inspiring, passionate and innovative individuals committed to creating positive change in the world. Together they form a community of global leaders. To engage alumni and support their growth as thought leaders, World Learning has created the Advancing Leaders Fellowship program.

The Advancing Leaders Fellowship program recognizes the ideas, talent, and vision of World Learning alumni by providing comprehensive training in social innovation, project management and leadership; and by supporting selected high-achieving fellows with grants and a network of mentors and peers so that fellows can implement an original social innovation project in their home communities. Alumni of all World Learning programs, including SIT Graduate Institute, SIT Study Abroad, and The Experiment in International Living are eligible to apply.

In 2016, 51 alumni were selected to participate in a two-month online training course in project design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and proposal writing. After successful completion of the course, five fellows were selected to receive funding for their projects and invited to an award ceremony in November in New York City, where they were paired with mentors who provided guidance on designing sustainable social innovation programs.

View our slideshow to learn about last year’s Advancing Leaders


Meet World Learning’s 2016 Advancing Leaders Fellows

Click on the sections below to read more about the fellows and their projects.

Aditi Rao is a writer, educator, and dreamer.

She has spent the last decade working in youth development and peacebuilding across India, Mexico, and the USA, including at Pravah, the Gandhi Fellowship, The Possibility Project, The Regional Resource Centre for Elementary Education, SEDEPAC, and CONTACT-South Asia. In a parallel life, she is a widely published writer, and her first book of poems, The Fingers Remember, won the Muse India Young Writers Award 2015. She has also been the recipient of the TFA Creative Writing in English award and the Srinivas Rayaprol Poetry Prize, and she was selected in 2014 as one of the most promising emerging writers in India by Caravan Magazine. She founded Tasawwur in 2014 as a way of bringing together her different passions — the arts, youth-work, and social justice.

Project Description: Tasawwur is a collective of artists and educators, working to support empower diverse groups of teenagers to lead positive change, in their own lives, and in the world. At Tasawwur, we believe deeply in the transformative power of the imagination and of community. With firm faith in the artistic process and in the power of meaningful cross-cultural relationships, we bring together a diverse group of teenagers, cutting across many different lines of marginalisation, including those of caste, class, gender, religion, disability, and refugee status, to explore and transform the complex social issues they grapple with. We use creative writing and the performing arts to support these young people on their explorations, helping them discover their unique voices and stories, while creating an atmosphere of care and respect for the voices and stories of others, and ultimately using their collective voice to effect positive change in the world. For more on our process and productions, visit

Anne Outwater was raised in Vermont,USA and went to Mexico with the Experiment in International Living in 1969.

She received her Bachelor of Art degree in History from Vassar College and in Nursing from New York University. She was a staff nurse and in-charge at Kapiolani Children’s Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii, and in the burns unit of the pediatric wards of Aghia Sophia in Athens, Greece. She also served as a health instructor and district coordinator in Sri Lanka with the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement. She has served as a US Peace Corps Medical Officer (PCMO) in Sri Lanka and Tanzania, and was the first resident advisor for Family Health International in Tanzania. When she was PCMO in Tanzania, she was called as a first responder to the site of the bombing of the US Embassy in 1998. Unfortunately she and her fellow first-responders could do little to help most of the victims; the situation was too dire. Since then she has focused on how to prevent such events. She received her PhD from Johns Hopkins University. Currently she is Head of the Department of Community Health Nursing at Muhimbiili University of Health and Allied Sciences in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Project Description: Dar es Salaam has become the most dangerous city in Africa for petty theft, robbery, and burglary. The goals of this project are to decrease violence and increase well-being amongst the people of Dar es Salaam and beyond. In order that the young men, around which the violence focuses, can create legal income, we are supporting the development of urban-rural partnerships. In the context of this project, the definition of an urban-rural partnership is: A business partnership consisting of an urban-based member or group focusing on entrepreneurship, and a rural-based member or group focusing on beekeeping. The objectives of this project are to develop such partnerships, and implement a training program in entrepreneurial and beekeeping skills.

Once formed, we expect that the partnerships can continue with or without a project. In the medium term we expect a jump in honey production and sales which should stabilize the families of the beekeepers and the entrepreneurs. In the long term, if the lessons we need to scale up, are learned we can have larger impact on decreasing violence and increasing well-being of the environment including the people, forests and farms, and bees of Tanzania.

Arta is an ardent policy analyst and advocate for people and the human condition. Her work aims to optimize processes in order to help communities have richer opportunities. She has ten years of professional experience with international organizations, as well as organizations in the private, public and civil society sectors.  Currently she works at the Ministry of European Integration in Kosovo as Head of the Division for Economic and Social Development. She is the founder and first President of the European Young Cell Alumni (EYCA), an NGO funded by the beneficiaries of the European Commission’s Scholarship Scheme. She also established the first Ostomy Association of Kosovo, which aims to provide support to people who live with a stoma.

Project Description: Living in Kosovo with a Stoma aims to improve the quality of life of a very vulnerable group of people in Kosovo, those who life with a stoma. People with ostomy in Kosovo have a poor quality of life, including physical, emotional, economic, and social challenges. This project seeks to increase public understanding of what it means to live with a stoma, inform ostomates of how to take care and manage their stoma, and support them with in-kind support (stoma bags) and will create a network of ostomates that will continue to exist after the project is finished.

Dr. Hein Paing Htoo Chit graduated from the University of Medicine, Magway in 2014 and started his humanitarian work thereafter. He has traveled to many remote areas throughout Myanmar in support of charity work and to set up mobile medical clinics. In recent years he has pursued community development and equality in areas of the country affected by conflict. Dr. Hein Paing is a passionate learner and always seeks to share his knowledge with others. As the Founder and Director of SEED Library, and a member of the Faculty of National Enlightenment Institute, he prioritizes community development, engagement and policy reforms.

Project Description: Despite rich natural resources, social injustice in Myanmar is persistently high, especially in Mon State, where youth face age discrimination and a lack of economic opportunity. While the state has a great deal of potential for economic development, corruption and black market activity are persistent problems. The lack of economic opportunity has led to brain drain in Mon State, which further hampers economic development. This project, Youth Entrepreneurship for Social Justice or YESJ, is premised on the idea that social injustice can be overcome by the power of skillful youth. This project will pursue social justice by training youth through a series of workshops. Dr. Htoo Chit aspires to establish an operational youth-led community platform for impact-based development, create a youth network striving for social justice, and use this network to disseminate success stories and to coach peers.

Johanny is currently a senior at the Department of Foreign Languages at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras. She is also part of Proyecto Guala- Manos en Acción (Guala Project-Hands in Action), an initiative which seeks to contribute to the development of the Honduran population through the use of innovative technologies. She studied at Emporia State University through the Global UGRAD program in spring, 2016 where she took courses in languages, leadership, and music.

Project Description: Empower Honduras, is an initiative that aims to empower orphaned youth through English language and leadership skills. Learning English will not only give these disaffected youth more opportunities to have a job but, will also enhance their quality of life. Additionally, leadership is a key element that will be incorporated within the program, leading participants to become resilient, involved, purposeful and empowered. It is our hope and belief that providing these skills to those who are marginalized by Honduran society will help mitigate the high possibility that participants will get involved in gangs, criminal actions, robbery, migration, etc. We feel that participation in this project will inspire and motivate participants to work hard for their dreams and will encourage them to see beyond their limitations.

Nya is a proud native of the Bronx, NY, and a senior at Yale University pursuing a joint-degree—a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree of Public Health in Health Care Management. As a first generation American, Nya grew up in a Caribbean family who believes that with each opportunity comes great responsibility to improve the lives of those around you. She hopes to use her leadership opportunities, academic endeavors, and professional experiences to continue to uplift her community.

Project Description: By Empowering Awareness & Respect, I Transform (BE ART) is a six-week after-school program in the Bronx, NY that introduces mindfulness practices and creative self-expression to help young women better navigate the high pressure environment of high school. With tools like self-reflection through journaling, positive reinforcement through uplifting language and open and honest group discussions, fifty dynamic young women will learn to check-in with their thoughts and feelings before responding to outside influences. A key feature of the program consists of anonymous student nominations from school administrators for young women who would benefit from this program, such as those with prior disciplinary action and those engaging in risky behaviors. We hope that each young woman will be able to see herself as a wonderfully unique work of art, a masterpiece worthy of love, appreciation and respect who empowers others to feel the same.