Having begun as a GW student organization, the Global Language Network has now become a nationally recognized organization, with ambitions to extend its reach globally.
Founded by alumnus Andrew Brown during the fall of his senior year in 2005, the Global Language Network offers free language classes in up to 55 different languages. In August, it became a tax-exempt 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, the same designation given to any charitable or religious group.
In addition to its new status, Brown is working to bring his organization to new colleges across the country. By the end of January, a total of eight or nine schools – including GW, American, Northwestern and Boston universities – will have GLN chapters up and running.
“Since September I’ve traveled to six or seven different states and I’ve met with students from 125 different universities,” Brown said. “We’ve received dozens of dozens of applications from students requesting to set up chapters at their campuses.”
With GLN’s new nonprofit designation, Brown said the organization is now more easily able to reach out to foundations, other organizations and individuals to get the help needed to sustain the organization.
Lisa VanArsdale, GLN’s treasurer, said the program’s new status has allowed it to accomplish more of its goals.
“Our main focus is still culture exposure and learning languages, but we’re able to do a lot more outreach in the community now,” VanArsdale said. “We have a lot more freedom because now we have a bigger base. We’re hoping to link up with other GLN chapters that are at other school communities.”
But Brown said it is the dedicated volunteers and students that really make GLN a success.
“We like to say that we do extraordinary work by ordinary people,” Brown said.
GLN chapters are run by students who implement the program at their school with the help and support of the organization. In order to teach a language, the only criterion is that the teacher be a native speaker of the language they teach.
Brown said that students should take advantage of all GW’s GLN chapter has to offer.
“Teach, learn, volunteer or do all of the above. Teach a language or practice one you speak,” Brown said. “We try to make the chapters function on a local level, but at the same time we’re connecting people to people that are doing the exact same thing all over so they also feel they’re part of a larger network, which they are.”
In the next year, Brown anticipates expanding GLN chapters to Mexico and Canada. Within five years, he hopes to see chapters in Israel and parts of Europe.
“Our mission is to make language and culture education free and fun for everyone everywhere,” Brown said. “So the answer to where the Network is going is: everywhere.”