(Host) Fran Stoddard is a long time Vermont journalist who’s taking note
of a remarkable number of innovators in business and non profit
ventures who make Vermont their home. They bring the best of Vermont to
international development. Project Harmony International’s Ann Martin is
one of them.
(Fran) Project Harmony began with song, as choir
exchanges between Vermont and Russian youth during the depths of the
Cold War. 26 years later it has a new name and 60 employees offering
technical assistance from offices in 7 countries. Ann Martin originally
became involved after her son went on an exchange to Russia more than 20
years ago and then she helped host a group that came to Vermont.
It changed my life as much as it changed his. When the Russian students
and teachers came… I took all my vacation time to be with them… I was
just like a sponge, soaking up different perspectives, their culture,
the experience of being with people that had a very different life than
mine and yet we had so much in common… despite what we thought were
differences. That really moved me… It was as if that experience opened
the door for me and it just kept getting wider and wider over the years
and I know many others have had similar experiences.
then on, Martin volunteered her skills in management, human services
and consulting until eventually, in 2006, she shifted gears from
directing a Morrisville family service center to becoming director of
what is now PH International.
Our mission today is to build strong global communities by building
civic engagement, cross cultural learning and increased opportunities in
the digital age.
Martin says that Vermonters’ rich
history of progressive policies and experience in juvenile and
restorative justice, entrepreneurship, democratic practice and use of
technology in education, are sought after by emerging democracies.
We have trained over a half million teachers in how to integrate IT
into their pedagogy across the disciplines of the things that they
teach… There are police officers, (there are) school teachers, (there
are) doctors and nurses who have done professional exchanges and been
consultants and trainers for us on our programs whose world view have
been completely changed because they’ve had the opportunity to learn
from other people and to share what they know with others in a way that
they know, they can see, really makes a difference.
But Vermont is not yet well known in some parts of the world…
…when they hear they are coming to VT they are worried bout it. They
want to be in NY, Boston , Washington and it’s an amazing thing. They
come; they all stay with Vermont families and believe me it’s Vermonters
that changes all of that. Their heads and hearts get completely turned
around and when they leave, Vermont is the best place on the planet.
Talk about citizen diplomacy! …It’s an untold story about the millions
of ways that Vermonters are contributing to the things we all care
Still headquartered in Waitsfield, PH
International has moved from sharing a little culture to building strong
communities around the world with the expertise and strong vision of
Vermonters. The word is getting out.