Mission, Values & Language

The mission of the VIH Program is to develop and encourage a passion for life-long learning and civic engagement for first-time, underrepresented women and MOGAI (Minoritized Orientations and Gender Alignments and Intersex) travelers. The VIH Program, curriculum, and community are guided by the following values: 

Global Perspectives 

  • Recognize that global education occurs against the backdrop of political, socioeconomic, and linguistic inequalities as well as cultural conflicts, and we strive to build culturally responsive and inclusive pedagogical practices.
  • Integrate an anti-colonialist and anti-racist lens throughout our program design, curricular framework, and community relationships. 


  • Harness the Experiential Learning Cycle:  Concrete Experiences, Reflective Observation, Abstract Conceptualization, and Active Experimentation (Kolb, 1984) as an opportunity for growth and self-discovery. 
  • Draw on sociocultural theory, critical theory, and constructivist theory to position students to deconstruct narratives, to co-construct knowledge, and to apply knowledge to global challenges. 
  • Structure learning communities that intentionally generate cognitive disequilibrium and thus foster both group and individual critical reflection and analysis 

Valuing Others

  • Actively acknowledge and proactively work to redistribute power, call out privilege, counter prejudice, and fight against oppression in our organizational culture, program design, and pedagogical practices so as to empower ourselves to be change agents. 
  • Position inclusion and equity as driving forces in our curriculum, mindset, and actions to create widespread, deep, and structural changes for underrepresented and/or marginalized peoples.


  • Cultivate mindsets and continuously develop our knowledge, skills, and attitudes as well as strength of character. 
  • Strive to be equitable, just, and transparent in our relationships with each other and our community partners to ensure that dignity, inclusion, respect, and ethical standards are at the forefront of our work.


  • Qualitatively and quantitatively assess our global education endeavors on at least an annual basis. 
  •  Recognize that neither data nor knowledge is neutral, and empower a diverse group of people with the responsibility of interpreting and analyzing data.


Language - Appreciating its Subtle Yet Profound Power

lan-guage |laNGgwij| noun: The system of communication used by a community to negotiate shared meaning and build group coherence and understanding around behaviors, ideas, and actions. As a culture shaper, language helps us to direct attention and action. However, the words and structures that makeup language not only convey an explicit surface meaning but also impart a set of deeper associations and connections that implicitly shape thought and influence behavior. This is the hidden power of language: its ability to subtly convey messages that shape our thinking, sense of self, and group affinity. 

Taken from Ron Ritchhart's Creating Cultures of Thinking, pg. 61.


VIH strives to create a community with a

Language of thinking

Language of identity

Language of initiative

Language of mindfulness

Language of feedback

Language of listening