INTERLINK International Institutes (INTERLINK) was founded in 1979 in Princeton, New Jersey, USA. Originally incorporated as INTERLINK Associates, the organization provided academic placement of international students 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 academic preparation, cross-cultural training, and English as a second language instruction. 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. As INTERLINK approaches its 40th year in higher education, plans are underway to expand internationally and further develop our online course offerings. It is only fitting that we adopt a new name that best expresses our evolution. “INTERLINK International Institutes” best reflects this expanded focus.
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 and CEO). Steiner served as Peace Corps’ first country Director in Afghanistan, and later Regional Director for North Africa, Near East, and South Asia (NANESA); Bing had been an early Peace Corps volunteer and subsequently conducted Peace Corps training programs for Afghanistan; Shahbaz coordinated Peace Corps training initially in Afghanistan and subsequently for the Teacher Corps/Peace Corps program at the State University of New York/College at Buffalo. The Peace Corps mystique of learning from and with others continues to define and instruct organizational purpose and practice.
INTERLINK’s first institute was opened in 1980 at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina. A growing reputation for quality instruction and a student-centered curriculum led to a steady but remarkable growth in enrollment. Additional INTERLINK institutes were opened at Indiana State University (1987), Colorado School of Mines (1990), Valparaiso University (1992), and The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (1997). Continued growth occurred with the establishment of institutes at St. Ambrose University, Montana State University, and Seattle Pacific University (2017). In 2004 INTERLINK opened its first institute at Al Yamamah University in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In 2011, INTERLINK took charge of 21 of the language training programs of the government-run Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC), providing curricula, faculty, and oversight of the training programs.
From its inception, INTERLINK’s goals of fostering critical thinking, personal growth, academic readiness, and cultural awareness together with improving participants’ linguistic skills have set it apart from traditional English language programs. Four pivotal elements that differentiate INTERLINK from most traditional programs are: 1) Highly qualified instructors committed to INTERLINK’s experiential, instructional approach; 2) An innovative and learner-centered curriculum; 3) Serious and disciplined students; and 4) Accreditation to uphold international quality standards. These salient features enable participants to achieve their goals in a challenging and yet enjoyable educational environment.