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Just the beginning: Our top moments of 2021

Just the beginning: Our top moments of 2021

It’s hard to believe that yet again, we’re excitedly heading into a brand new year together. Here at EF Education First, we’ve learned so much the past few years about how to help people continue to explore new paths despite the many obstacles and challenges we have all faced. We’ve focused on the power of our global community in a world that begs for more connection, and we’ve celebrated the inspiring accomplishments of our students, customers, and staff. We’ve continued our efforts to foster empathy and challenge bias while also committing to lessen our impact on the environment. And the best part? We’re just getting started.

We’re incredibly humbled by and proud of everything our global community has accomplished this past year. As we get ready to continue to make an impact together in 2022, we’re taking a moment to look back at the moments that taught us the most.

1. Reflecting on our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging

The past two years have been a time for organizations to commit to change — EF included. We sat down at the beginning of 2021 to chat with Nayeli, Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB). We talked about EF’s commitment to DEIB, what we achieved in 2020, and where we have more work to do. Read more about our conversation with Nayeli here.

2. Celebrating empowerment at EF

EF Women’s History Month took place during the month of March. At EF, women are presidents, heads of sales teams, in charge of offices and schools, leading technology and finance teams, and running real estate projects around the world. But what stands out is that these women aren’t just leading – they are supporting and coaching other women to follow in their footsteps. Read more about how women empower women at EF here.

3. Focusing on sustainability

In 2021 we proudly launched Hello Zero, our vision and commitment to voluntarily offset our global carbon emissions. The first step in this ambitious program was the EF Forest Initiative, a project to create and conserve forests around the world with a goal of being carbon negative every year, starting in 2021. Read more about Hello Zero here.

4. Planting millions of mangrove trees

We made exciting progress on our Hello Zero commitment by planting almost three million mangrove trees.  Read the latest updates about the impacts to the communities where we are planting EF Forests and what to expect next as we head into the new year here.

5. Transforming how Swedish students learn to read

Did you know that a small team in EF’s office in Stockholm is improving the way tens of thousands of students in Sweden learn to read? LegiLexi, developed by Swedish reading specialists and researchers, is a learning assessment that helps teachers know how and where to focus to help each learner. Their work is funded by EF founder Bertil Hult and it’s one more way EF is opening the world through education. Learn more about LegiLexi here.

6. Reflecting on hope and resilience

Latinx+ @EF, one of EF’s employee-led affinity groups, invited their colleagues to join them in reflecting on the power of the past and the potential for the future centered around the year’s EF Hispanic Heritage Month theme “Hope and Resilience.” The group held a Critical Conversation (a regular series for staff at EF) on the complexities of the Latinx+ community, its culture, and common misconceptions. Read more about how we celebrated and learned here.

7. Invaluable tips from EF Green Teams

EFers are passionate and motivated change-makers. Across the globe, entrepreneurial EF staff have created Green Teams to positively impact local EF schools, offices, communities, and ultimately the planet. Read tips from our EF Green Teams, from composting to creating your own climate action diagram, here.

8. Exploring the importance of ethical storytelling

During the month of November, staff focused on the importance of ethical storytelling and the amplification of Indigenous voices for EF Indigenous Peoples Month, a celebration of Indigenous People both within and outside of the global EF community. Staff celebrated by talking about the history, cultures, land, experiences, and stories of Indigenous people. Read more about how we celebrated EF Indigenous Peoples Month here.

9. Understanding why culturally immersive education is so important

Stepping outside your comfort zone is one of the most exciting ways to learn about yourself and the world around you. Whether you realize it or not, every time you visit a new place or talk to someone from a different background, you’re experiencing culturally immersive education. It’s one of the best ways to broaden your worldview and create common ground with other people. Want to know more about culturally immersive education? Read more here.

10. Reflecting on cultural history

In 2021 EF North America welcomed many new staff-led EFinity groups, including Asian and Pacific Islander (API) @ EF. The group recently developed educational and fun programming to celebrate EF Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, focusing on the model minority myth, Asian representation in media, and even cooking classes and a recipe book. Read an interview with our API @ EF group co-captains here.