Phyllis Watt Ingersoll, a beloved trustee, alumna, and supporter of World Learning, passed away peacefully at her home in Massachusetts this April. Perhaps no single human being embodied the spirit and history of World Learning better. Phyllis was the proud daughter of Donald and Leslie Watt, co-founders of The Experiment in International Living, and traveled to Mexico, France, Guatemala, Austria, Germany, and Yugoslavia with The Experiment. Three of her four children also went on to become Experimenters.
In ways big and small, Phyllis fostered intercultural understanding throughout her life. In 1966, Phyllis and her husband, Jerry, moved their young family to Kumasi, Ghana, to follow their commitment to international service and education. While there, she taught history of art and architecture at the University of Science and Technology. After the family returned to Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1971, Phyllis became active in building her community and hosting foreign students and friends at her home.
Phyllis served as a World Learning trustee for decades and was named trustee emerita in 2004. Over the years, she rarely missed a board meeting, a committee call, or a request for help, and regularly attended the General Assembly of the Federation of The Experiment in International Living. Phyllis became for World Learning something akin to “true North,” reminding us all of where we came from, who we are as an organization, and the need to evolve in order to fulfill our mission in a rapidly changing world. She committed every fiber of her being to our principles and mission—to work globally to enhance the capacity and commitment of individuals, institutions, and communities to create a more sustainable, peaceful, and just world.
Phyllis will be deeply missed by many. We are grateful for her service, leadership, and passion, not only for World Learning, but for the entire international exchange community.
The intercultural bonds The Experiment continues to foster have built a foundation of mutual understanding that will be critical to overcoming the world’s increasingly complex challenges. In honor of Phyllis’ legacy, and with the help of her family and friends, we have created The Phyllis Watt Ingersoll Experiment Fund, which will provide operational, programmatic, and scholarship support to The Experiment. If you would like to donate to this fund, please visit experiment.org/donatenow.