ITD is a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit corporation, otherwise known as an NGO (non-governmental organization). The company was incorporated in 1985 in the state of Massachusetts. Our office, training center, and residential facility are located in Amherst, Mass.
We believe that the rich learning experiences our programs offer can effect powerful and positive transformation in individuals, in their communities, and in their institutions. We work with our partners and sponsors worldwide to design and implement programs in which participants reach across – and live across – boundaries and borders. And we do this in an atmosphere of mutual respect, organized collaboration, and fun.
Over 3,300 people from 100+ countries have come to ITD over the years. We conduct 5-15 short-term programs each year for groups that range in size from 1 to 40 participants, and participants who have ranged in age from 14 to 75. Programs last anywhere from one week to ten months, after which time time participants return to their home countries. We tailor each program's content to its respective participant profiles, its thematic concentration, and its country or countries. In the last ten years, in addition to providing programming for overseas participants in the U.S. we have been providing Americans with similar intensive exchanges abroad.
ITD offers five types of programming: professional, academic, youth, cultural, and sports.
Professional Programs provide in-service programming for established professionals. Examples of those we have conducted are:
• Pakistan Public Administration
• Brazil Women's Health and Leadership
• Russia Rule of Law
• Southern Philippines Faith and Community
• (Republic of) Georgia Libraries
Academic Programs are offered to university professors and students, and to high school educators, to increase understanding of U.S. history, culture, and government. Examples of those we have conducted are:
• Study of the U.S. for Secondary School Teachers (global)
• U.S. National Security Policy-Making (global)
• Study of the U.S. for Latin American University Student Leaders
Youth Programs expose high school students to a social and/or academic theme in another country for comparison to their own. Examples of those we have conducted are:
• Spain-US-Netherlands Minority Studies
• Norway Climate Change
Cultural Programs provide artist-to-artist exchanges of craft and technique, or an opportunity for indigenous leaders to share stories and strategies. Examples of those we have conducted are:
• Latin America Cultural Identity
• South Africa Performing Arts
• Uzbekistan Fiber Arts
Sports Programs aim to improve access to recreational sports and to link sports with social justice themes such as empowering girls and people with disabilities, and combating racial prejudice. Examples of those we have conducted are:
• Kosovo Girls in Soccer
• France Youth Basketball
• Indonesia Youth Recreation, and Girls in Sport
Hundreds of experts and institutions have worked with ITD over the past three decades, and are eager to continue supporting our projects. For professional programs we hire local, national, and international consultants, and call on diverse institutions to address the professional theme being investigated. For academic programs we draw on professors from our local Five Colleges (the University of Massachusetts and Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges) and throughout the U.S. to serve as lecturers, research advisers, and academic directors. Youth programs involve public and private high schools. Our cultural programs engage artists, museums, and theaters from Massachusetts to the West Coast. And our sports programs engage sports professionals at the recreational, college, and national levels.
U.S.-based programs normally include a component in ITD's hometown of Amherst, MA, with trips to Boston, New York City, and often Washington, DC. Academic programs have an additional component in the western U.S., and professional and cultural programs have traveled to Buffalo, Chicago, Tucson, Santa Fe, Los Angeles, and elsewhere in the continental U.S.
ITD recognizes that the adult participants who take part in our projects are experts in their fields, and that youth participants also bring a great deal of knowledge. We see our role as exposing them not only to new knowledge but also to widely different ideas, situations, and people. ITD sessions stimulate thought and discussion, so that participants may build on their own knowledge and understanding. Conversely we call on our foreign participants to help inform the Americans they come in contact with about their cultures and expertise.
ITD's training methods include lectures, small group assignments, case studies, site visits, internships or professional placements, group discussions, workshops, writing assignments, and participant research and presentations. Throughout many stateside programs, ITD staff guide participants in reflecting on their U.S. experiences and developing feasible and meaningful action plans to apply newly acquired knowledge and skills to their own place of work or study.
Diversity is central to ITD programming. Participants, program speakers, organizational hosts, and host families represent different shades of the political, ethnic, economic, and social spectrum in the United States. We strive to include approximately equal numbers of men and women (or boys and girls) in each program, and our groups visit diverse communities including rural farming areas, suburbs, small cities, and major metropolises.
Programs are conducted in the participants' first or second language, or through interpretation. ITD has provided programs in English, Spanish, Bahasa Indonesia, French, Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Bulgarian, Romanian, Albanian, Tagalog, Turkish, Thai, Czech, Uzbek, Farsi, and Georgian. We have also provided sessions through interpretation in Mandarin Chinese, Cambodian, Vietnamese, and Arabic.
ITD manages all aspects of every program from the time participants arrive at airports in Hartford, CT, Boston, MA, Newark, PA, or New York City until they return to the airport at the end of the program.
Training sessions take place at ITD's training center in south Amherst, in classrooms at nearby college and university campuses, or in hotel conference facilities.
During their Amherst component most participants reside in the ITD House, a 19th century mansion located in a quiet neighborhood near the town center, Amherst College, and the University of Massachusetts. Meal arrangements consist of meal cards for use at the Amherst College dining hall, or cash allowances to buy meals at local restaurants or groceries for self-prepared meals.
ITD vans and drivers provide local and some overnight transportation. For longer trips and larger groups we arrange for coaches or air travel. ITD staff secure emergency medical care for our participants in need, process their insurance claims, and arrange for medical insurance for participants who are not covered by their sponsors.
Staff are on call 24/7 to attend to participants, as needed.
ITD staff provides scheduling and escorting on a variety of cultural excursions in every region that is visited. In addition, participants may attend cultural and social activities suited to their individual tastes during their free time.
Typical cultural excursions include concerts, theater, museums, historical landmarks, houses of worship, sports activities (viewing or participating!), city tours, and boat trips. Home hospitality with local families is a part of many ITD programs.
One of the biggest impacts of ITD programs is the change they cause in foreign participants' views of America and Americans, which most come to see as much more heterogeneous, complex, and democratic than previously thought. This change – sometimes a sea change – in perception is good for the world, not because it plays to any political advantage, but because it is tied to a deeper understanding of the commonalities of different peoples, and to an optimism that we can work together to improve in some way the lives of those in all our communities.
Action plan projects, mentioned above, are another good example of post-program impact. These projects are developed during most ITD programs, and implemented by participants on their return home. Here are a few recent examples:
Pakistan Public Administration: One alumus improved health awareness in the rural area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa through radio programs. He arranged to broadcast interviews with doctors and other health professionals, with an emphasis on the health of elders.
Brazil Women's Health and Leadership: Tapping into connections and resources at a local university, an alumna starting a music therapy class for breast cancer patients and survivors.
Teacher Summer Institute: (In the case of the teachers, their action plans take the form of lesson plans.) One alumna developed a lesson plan on “The Raid on Deerfield [Massachusetts]” for her French high school students of English, bringing to light the importance of memory, words, and how the story is told.
Norway Climate Change: U.S. high school alumni/ae visited elementary schools in their town to speak about the causes of climate change, thus “begin[ning] a new generation of environmentalists.”
Kosovo Soccer for Girls: Two teenaged alumnae from the western Kosovo city of Peja asked middle school teachers to help them recruit interested 11-14 year old girls to form soccer teams. Fifty girls signed up, and were coached by the young alumnae.
Action plan projects are unfunded, or minimally funded through ITD mini-grants. This means that they must be fueled by motivated and well-prepared alumni/ae. ITD helps set this dynamic in motion by a) selecting, when charged with this task, participants with a strong desire to extend themselves to introduce positive changes into their workplaces or communities, b) providing learning experiences that recognize and expand participants' competencies and knowledge base, c) providing consistent guidance in plan development, and d) providing unflagging support and encouragement – by both ITD staff and the given program's speakers or organizational hosts.
In addition to changed perspectives and action plan projects, the most significant follow-on activities result from the relationships built through the intensive and integrated programming that ITD plans and implements. Group members often form friendships and strong professional bonds with one another. These connections not only afford them personal fulfillment, but also motivate, inform, and enhance future professional, academic, or community projects. Likewise the substantial cross-cultural connections made between foreign participants and their U.S. counterparts often lead to new approaches and attitudes.