Providing "Exchange With A Purpose" is the mission of World Link, a private non-profit organization headquartered in Kalona, Iowa (USA). World Link conducts exchange programs for youth through publicly sponsored projects that seek to improve the understanding and cooperation among the peoples and cultures of the world. Countries served by World Link are determined by the U.S. Congress, or other government sponsors, and are selected to serve public diplomacy missions. Since the World Link founders were initially involved in exchange programs in 1993, over 4,000 student participants and 300 teachers have been involved in exchange programs. World Link was founded in 2002, with a merger of staff from international program departments from the National FFA Organization and the Russian Rural Youth Union. Today, World Link is still operated by its’ founders and built a network of 6 staff and 20 local coordinators to implement the cultural exchange programs.
The founders, Curtis and Lana Stutzman, have a combined experience of 50 years in the cultural exchange community from the start as exchange students, later as hosts, and then working as international coordinators for their respective organizations before founding World Link. Coming from a background in agricultural exchange and rural youth development, World Link continues to serve this sector with development programs like the Future Farmers of Georgia and the Youth Leadership Exchange with Belarus. More recently, World Link has been working the A-SMYLE, FLEX, and YES exchange programs developing future leaders in a wide array of students from the participating countries in the former Soviet Union, the Balkan Region, Northern Africa, Middle-East and SE and Central Asia.
Participants on World Link programs are selected through a merit based scholarship process that combines the participants’ ability to adapt to another culture and their potential as a future leader in their home countries. A majority of programs World Link operates are sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs with other programs being sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agriculture Service, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. World Link programs and activities seek to develop leadership skills in youth participants around the globe in order to develop career and service skills in the successor generation in the countries involved. World Link does more than just move students back and forth. World Link’s program ensures that participants are fully engaged in the school and program objectives to share their culture, learn leadership skills, and learn the values of a civil society and community service. Exchange With A Purpose.
World Link is a fully listed member of the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel and was found to be 100% in compliance with CSIET Standards and J-1 Visa regulations through an audit process conducted by the Youth Division by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.