The Initiative for Intercultural Learning (IFIL) is an independent, non-partisan and non-profit organisation run by students and young professionals. We offer Study Trips targeted mainly at young people to destinations all around the globe as a mean to foster intercultural exchange und understanding. The Study Trips are organized by other enthusiastic young people with our support and guidance, to a region of their own choice.
We understand culture in a broad way: In the context of a guiding theme, participants of our Study Trips meet up with exponents of politics, society, science and the economy and get to discuss matters that make up the core of a region’s characteristics. Furthermore, every study trip includes one or more workshops with local youth: It is our goal that people who attend our journeys do not only passively consume a country’s story and sights but also make an active contribution by opening up their views and perspectives to persons of their own age. This allows the exchange to bidirectional, which it should be by definition, and provides the local youth with the chance to meet people from other parts of the world too as well as to deepen their understanding of foreign cultures.
IFIL accompanies its Study Trip organizers from the initial spark of an idea through the detailed planning of a journey, its implementation and successful completion with helpful tips and tools. We provide training and coaching, a legal framework, coordinated marketing efforts as well as technical and administrative support. Thereby we ensure the high quality of our Intercultural Study Trips.
IFIL pursues its goals in strict political and ideological independence and is run entirely by volunteers. The Initiative is based in Berne, Switzerland.
Fostering intercultural understanding and enabling personal growth
The Initiative for Intercultural Learning (IFIL) serves as a platform to foster exchange and reciprocal understanding between people with different cultural backgrounds. We understand intercultural learning as a constructive process aiming at the enrichment of personal sensitivity towards diversified ways of living.
IFIL is an open platform for different views, ideas and cultures. IFIL is a neutral non-profit organization based on volunteer work, headed by young and open-minded people and offers projects aimed at students and young professionals. In providing its services IFIL puts emphasize on competence and experience but at the same time keeps an open mind towards new ideas. With its work IFIL aims at fostering dialogue between different cultures and provides an important contribution towards intercultural understanding.
IFIL achieves its goals by organizing Intercultural Study Trips and by offering further smaller-scale projects within the realm of intercultural exchange. All trips and projects are organized by young people for young people. Through open exchange with decision-makers IFIL offers a sophisticated view on a country or a cultural area on its trips. Furthermore, a component that focuses explicitly on the exchange with local youth and young adults is part of every trip. IFIL focuses on the following key issues when organizing its trips: politics, economy, culture, society and history. The participants of the Study Trips are encouraged to form their own informed opinion and develop a differentiated understanding of a region and its society and people.
The following personalities stand behind the vision and the projects of IFIL:
Walter Fust, chairman of UNESCO’s International Program for the Development of Communication and former General Director Swiss Cooperation Office (SCD)
“Knowledge is one of the few resources, which is increased the more we use it. Knowledge is mostly a product of learning, of sharing and of the creation of access to knowledge sources. Learning depends strongly on its context. Culture plays therefore directly and indirectly a big role. The seekers and learners want more knowledge about other cultures. Learning from other cultures requires knowing well the own one. That’s why the idea of IFIL is so important. We need “intercultural learning”. I wish all the best for the Initiative for Intercultural Learning.”
Christin Ledergerber Hinderling, Lic. Psychologist and Managing Director of lh-consulting
“We are a global society which still has trouble understanding that each and every one of us is responsible for and needs to contribute towards the future of mankind. We need to learn to interact with different personalities as well as different cultures, learn to live peacefully with people from different cultural backgrounds. This is a challenging but rewarding process which requires that we know ourselves and where we come from before trying to understand the others. During this process, deeply rooted concepts about what is good and bad are being questioned, what we take for granted and feel to be essential, is put into question. Our identity is challenged by other people’s ways of behaving and thinking, often resulting in irritation or conflict. Developing intercultural sensitivity is a challenging process which can help us shape our future and overcome obstacles. That’s where IFIL steps in, dedicated to contribute to this challenging process of ‚intercultural learning‘.”
Prof. Dr. Christoph Frei, University of St.Gallen
“Intercultural competence is one of those watchwords that we have come to take seriously at the University of St.Gallen. Student initiatives such as IFIL demonstrate that young people do not need to wait for instructions from above, but have what it takes to make things happen on their own. A wonderful joint venture, Chapeau!”
In 2009 IFIL was invited to the 2nd Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAoC) in Istanbul as one of only 18 organisations to present its concept at the „Marketplace of Ideas”. IFIL was lauded by the UNAoC as one of the “most innovative” intercultural projects worldwide.
In 2007 IFIL received a “100 projects for peace” award from the Kathryn Wasserman Davis Foundation for the project “Various perspectives, two countries, one picture!”.
IFIL is a neutral non-profit organization and is based on volunteer work. All the fees we receive from participants of our trips are used to cover administrative, marketing and trip expenses.
Our aim is to offer study trips at the lowest rate possible so that as many young people as possible can benefit from intercultural learning and exchange.
Financial support of IFIL is much appreciated!
IFIL.ch, 3000 Bern, Switzerland
IBAN: CH20 8000 5000 0794 2576 1