Since September 2005 GLN has offered 384 classes in 58 languages to nearly 3,500 students. Currently, GLN offers 30-35 classes in 20-30 languages, serving 500 students every semester.
With virtually no advertising we receive over 1,000 class registration requests. Some choose GLN because they don’t have viable alternatives: classes in DC are prohibitively expensive or simply not available (for instance, classes in less commonly taught languages such as Nepali or Haitian Creole). Others choose GLN because they prefer our innovative approach.
GLN students are 18 to 80 years old and come from a range of educational, professional and ethnic backgrounds. Many of them work for the World Bank, the Red Cross, Booz Allen Hamilton, Peace Corps, Organization of American States, the US government and many other small or large organizations. As we strengthen and diversify our program, we will approach such organizations, offer specialized classes to their employees and impact both their lives and the lives of the people they work with and serve.
One of the many examples is our student, Jen, who took an Albanian class and used her language skills to win a Fulbright Scholarship to go to Albania to make a documentary series about youth identity and politics while interning with UNICEF. In Albania Jen developed a strong bond with her GLN teacher’s 85-year-old aunt whom she affectionately calls ‘grandma’. One GLN Albanian class not only impacted Jen’s life, but the lives of her teacher, her 85-year-old ‘grandma’ as well as the greater local Albanian community that Jen and UNICEF serve on a daily basis.
Our students aren’t the only ones who are positively impacted by our program. GLN has trained over 300 teachers who went on to teach one or more classes. They learned new skills while imparting their language and culture to others. One powerful example is Julia, our Quechua teacher, who is fulfilling a personal goal to preserve her cultural heritage and endangered language by teaching it to 15 students every semester.
GLN has set three strategic goals for the next two years:
• Improve language services by strengthening language curriculum and methodology
• Expand services to offer more classes in more languages and thus reach more people
• Diversify services by offering custom classes for NGOs, government agencies and businesses
Within two years GLN will be a well-established, sustainable organization with 7 years of experience, a ‘one-stop-shop’ for language classes in Washington, DC. Looking ahead we will seek to replicate this model across the United States and eventually, around the world.