Institute for Developing Across Differences

Meet the Global Peer:Ana Carolina (Carol) Cassiano

Meet the IDD Global Peer

Ana Carolina (Carol) Cassiano

Each month we ask a colleague who is a member of the IDD’s Global Community of Practice* to share more about their reflections, inspiration and hopes for the field.

Following are reflections from Ana Carolina (Carol) Cassiano, an interculturalist, facilitator and learning designer with over 10 years of experience. Besides her position as Head of Education Development at AFS Intercultural Programs, Carol is generously sharing her expertise and skills in various communities in the Greater Differences fields. Not only is she a Board Member of SIETAR Brazil, she also volunteers for ICom, an innovative community foundation established in Southern Brazil – and she has been supporting IDD as an IDD Advisor and facilitator of our After Hours with the Expert programming.  [Interview edited for clarity.]

Who in our professional field inspires you? 

I feel very lucky to have been able to work and collaborate closely with many talented people in our professional field who I am very inspired by. One person who I have been very inspired by this past year is Verónica Boix-Mansilla, Principal Investigator at Project Zero at Harvard Graduate School of Education. The first thing that stands out are her  contributions to the Differences field through the development of frameworks, curriculum and classroom activities. For example, she co-developed the OECD-PISA framework on Global Competence in 2018 and has been leading several projects that work closely with teachers in various contexts. But it’s not only the high quality of the work she does that inspires me, but how she does it. She really models global and intercultural competence by being fully present, down to earth and showing up as an active listener and demonstrating kindness and openness in every interaction. 

What is your most memorable experience when you personally encountered a seemingly insurmountable difference? How did you overcome this?

The current political environment in Brazil, my home and native country, has presented a challenge to overcome differences related to core values and world views. In such a polarized divide, it’s been very challenging continuing to nurture relationships with friends and family members who are aligned with the side of the spectrum opposite from mine. Every interaction has become loaded as it is hard to leave such a topic out of conversations.

The way I’ve been trying to overcome this is by trying to remain curious and assume positive intent, trying to truly have in mind that we all want what is best. I also try to behave calmly and in a respectful manner, being open to clarify some misconceptions about the political views I’m aligned with and being open to challenge my own assumptions about the perspective opposite from mine. This doesn’t always work as it depends on both parties being open to dialogue, but especially when it comes to people I love and care about, I believe it’s worth giving it a chance.

If you were to sum up your professional philosophy in 50 characters or less, what would it be?

I would borrow from a quote of a remarkable fellow Brazilian, educator and philosopher Paulo Freire:

Transformative education changes people. People change the world.”


Meet Carol and other peers at our next IDD Global Community of Practice calls on November 23, 2022.

Our topic for reflection and discussion will be the intersections between DEI and ICC.

*The IDD’s Global Community of Practice is an informal, non-commercial setting in which we connect, discuss, and share timely and timeless topics with passionate, experienced “Differences” peers from different backgrounds, regions, age groups, and focus areas.

Do you have topic ideas for future IDD Global Community of Practice gatherings? Would you like for us to consider profiling you in a future edition? Get in touch with our Community Lead Nadine Binder.