“Try and leave this world a little better than you found it, and when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate, you have not wasted your time but have done your best.” – Lord Robert Baden-Powell

A clear lightbulb with a flower inside.ILI’s mission is to promote intercultural understanding and diverse communities by providing high-quality language instruction and teacher training. When asked to join ILI’s board in 2016, it was that mission that made joining an easy decision for Markus Jones. With a background in non-profit fundraising, Markus is now the President of the International Language Institute’s Board of Directors, where he works to help provide strategic guidance and support to ILI’s staff and teachers. Aside from the mission, it was the teachers and staff that caught Markus’s eye early on, it was clear to him that ILI staff teaches much more than just languages. Recently, Markus took some time to have a conversation with us about his role with ILI, his passion for immigration issues, and the importance of language education.

What is your favorite memory since working with ILI?

My favorite memory since working with ILI is the first English class I attended. The class was learning about the American Civil Rights Movement and race relations in the South. Being from the South, I was asked to speak to the class about my experiences growing up in that part of the country. I felt this moment deeply for two reasons: It caused me to reflect on my own personal experiences and I was astonished to see that ILI English students were learning about way more than just the language.

How do you think the pandemic impacted ILI?

The pandemic impacted ILI by greatly disrupting the known universe of language instruction. Beyond the financial implications of the longterm effects from COVID, the pandemic also caused our community (staff, board, students, donors) to engage with us in ways we would have never thought possible. It has been an extreme shift in every aspect of our business.

Something I learned during this time is the great barriers some of our students face as they take classes from ILI. I also learned that there is absolutely no replacement for 1:1/face-to-face communication – whether we are in a classroom, boardroom, or dining room. We need to be in front of people in order to really connect in deep and meaningful ways. 

Last year ILI’s Board and staff published ILI’s Statement of Principles. Why was this so important?

ILI’s principles are important because they are the guidepost when the world suddenly turns upside down. They are also what grounds each of us in our work at ILI. We may have all chosen to be involved with ILI for different reasons, but the principles are the common thread that links us all to the organization and its mission.

ILI upholds their principles by leading with the heart and with kindness, seeking to understand first, and by giving voice to those who cannot yet be heard.

You’ve mentioned that you are passionate about immigration issues, why is that?

Immigration is the very thing that created our nation and it is what makes this country so vibrant and beautiful.

Five Facts: Markus Jones Trivia

  • Originally from: Jackson, Mississippi.
  • Favorite Place Visited: Germany (his mother’s birth place!)
  • Currently Reading: The Privileged Poor by Anthony Abraham Jack
  • Favorite Things to do in the Valley: Visit local breweries, Explore Downtown Northampton, and hike the 7 Sisters
  • Hobbies: camping, hiking, and fixing old things

ILI's 10 member board of directors posing for a group photo.Markus Jones is an integral piece of the puzzle that is ILI. The International Language Institute of Massachusetts is much more than a language school, and it is the board, students, teachers, staff, and donors that have created the foundation of values and principles that make the school special.

Learn more about the International Language Institute’s Board of Directors.  Learn more and support ILI’s mission by becoming a donor.