INTERLINK Language Centers (INTERLINK) was founded in 1979 in Princeton, New Jersey, USA. Originally incorporated as INTERLINK Associates, the organization provided academic placement of international students, and cross-cultural training and orientation for mid-level professionals moving for the first time to another culture. In response to demand and organizational expertise, priority soon shifted to the teaching of English as a second language. The objective was to make learning in a cross-cultural setting a successful experience for those coming to the USA for study or work. To reflect this change in emphasis, INTERLINK Associates was renamed INTERLINK Language Centers in 1987.
From its inception, INTERLINK’s philosophy and style were shaped by the US Peace Corps experience of INTERLINK’s founders Robert L. Steiner, John Bing, and first Institute Director, Ahad Shahbaz (now President). Steiner served as Peace Corps’ first country Director in Afghanistan, and later Regional Director for North Africa, Near East, and South Asia; Bing had been an early Peace Corps volunteer and subsequently conducted Peace Corps training programs for Afghanistan; Shahbaz coordinated Peace Corps training in Afghanistan as well as at the State University of New York/College at Buffalo. The Peace Corps mystique continues to define and instruct organizational purpose and practice.
INTERLINK’s first Language and Training Center was opened in 1980 at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina. A growing reputation for quality instruction and academic preparation, student-centered curriculum, rich faculty/student ratio (average 1:8), well-trained and dedicated instructional staff, serious students, and a safe, supportive environment led to a steady but remarkable growth in enrollment. Additional INTERLINK institutes were opened at Indiana State University in Terre Haute (1987), Colorado School of Mines (1990), Valparaiso University (1992), The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (1997), and St. Ambrose University (2017). This institutional diversity gives student applicants a wide selection from which to choose. In the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, it opened its first center for men at Al Yamamah University in 2004 and for women in 2006. In 2011, it took charge of most of the language training programs for the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC), with 21 centers spread across the Kingdom.
With the home office now in Boulder, Colorado, INTERLINK is a unified organization in which curriculum is being constantly researched and improved, quality regularly monitored and evaluated, to make certain that the highest standards are met. At the same time, enough diversity is encouraged to let students and teachers achieve a challenging learning environment tailored to the needs of the student.