October 28, 2021

How Virtual Exchange Prepared One Alumnus for the “Future of Work”


Carlos knew he was interested in nanotechnology and its potential to solve global challenges, but he did not have the necessary experience of working on a cross-cultural team to develop these solutions yet. By participating in World Learning’s The Experiment Digital, he was not only able to build upon his technical skills, but he also learned how to communicate and work with others to turn his aspirations into a reality.

In summer 2020, Carlos took part in The Experiment Digital, attending interactive learning modules and presentations while also engaging in synchronous exchanges with peers in Iraq, Algeria, Yemen, and his home country, the U.S. During his virtual exchange program, Carlos developed business, community development, and communications skills while also strengthening his passion for scientific solutions. In addition to technical skills, Carlos also learned valuable interpersonal communication skills. 

“Even though our culture and lifestyles are very different, I think with the COVID experience, we developed a mutual understanding which allowed us to be free and have something in common,” Carlos said about working on a multinational team. 

Through his virtual exchange, Carlos recognized the existence of stereotypes and learned how to dismantle them. Moreover, through his experience Carlos gained cultural sensitivity and understanding. “If you try to do something similar in your community, you already know that culture. If you do a program like The Experiment Digital, it’s international, you can learn about culture and other things and apply those lessons.”

The Experiment Digital also gave Carlos necessary job readiness skills. “As the economy goes digital, The Experiment Digital gives you a glimpse of what the future of work will look like for us.” Carlos took his newfound skills and joined The Knowledge Society (TKS), a global community of young people who work with emerging technologies to solve problems and positively impact the world. Carlos takes part in sessions where he learns about new technologies and takes part in trainings – learning how to take technical knowledge and translate it into real world solutions. In addition to his involvement with TKS, he has worked on various projects since his virtual exchange, including a hackathon and a digital tracing project for the coronavirus pandemic. Thanks to The Experiment Digital, Carlos used his robust communication skills and teamwork experience to successfully work on these projects while further developing his collaboration and presentation skills. “Everything I learned from The Experiment Digital came together when I had to solve open ended problems.”

Carlos is focused on addressing the needs of the future, and applying science and technology to solve these problems. His ultimate goal is to make a dent in more than one industry – especially relating to energy storage and space exploration using nano materials. Furthermore, he wants to explore answers to human behavior: “How did we get here? Why are places different and why does conflict exist?” No matter what direction Carlos goes, he will bring with him the understanding of how important human-to-human collaboration is, an idea solidified during his virtual exchange: “The people who travel the furthest travel together.”

The Experiment Digital, implemented by World Learning, is supported by the Stevens Initiative, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, with funding provided by the U.S. Government, and is administered by the Aspen Institute. The Stevens Initiative is also supported by the Bezos Family Foundation and the governments of Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.