Interactive Learning Center

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The Anthony L. and Hideko S. Burgess Interactive Learning Center (ILC)

A field trip to the ILC at Operation Smile Global Headquarters isn’t just an opportunity to explore – it’s a call to action.

As students experience the ILC, they’ll encounter real-world examples of the subject matter they learn in the classroom – including objectives as outlined in the Virginia Standards of Learning – and they’ll explore potential career opportunities. But, perhaps most importantly, they’ll build meaningful connections with Operation Smile’s patients and learn how to apply their knowledge to make a difference in the lives of others.

Now Accepting Requests for Field Trips

What can you expect from a visit to the ILC?

  • MEANINGFUL CONNECTIONS: Every student who visits the ILC will receive a “passport” sharing the story of their new friend, a patient who received care from Operation Smile. They’ll follow their friend throughout their journey to care. These friends represent seven countries and encapsulate the global nature of our work. It’s our hope that students will make a meaningful connection with their friends and leave inspired to take action and help more people.
  • BOOSTED KNOWLEDGE: The ILC teaches students about how the organization supports the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, provides an opportunity for career exploration, and supports lessons in science, technology, engineering, the arts and math (STEAM) as well as Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs).
  • AN ART PROJECT WITH HEART: Our patients have taught us about the power of words. As small groups enter the exhibit, students waiting to enjoy the experience will create artwork around powerful words such as empathy and dignity.
What resources are available to educators?

  • REVIEW LESSON PLANS: Operation Smile Student Programs staff put together a foundational set of six lesson plans that educators are welcome to use however they like. These lesson plans cover essential topics such as empathy and antibullying, cleft conditions, and how we reach patients around the world.
  • COLLABORATE WITH US: Student Programs would love to help tailor lesson plans to your classroom. Email Student Programs’ Bethany Bogacki ( to get started.

It was their love of education – and each other – that made the ILC possible.  

Enlightened by his travels and inspired by the love of his life Hideko, Anthony L. “Tony” Burgess’ legacy of learning and hard work shines through his $1 million gift to Operation Smile. The Burgess family is empowering generations of young people to experience and embrace a global perspective.

As a U.S. military veteran who met his wife while serving in Japan as an English teacher, Operation Smile’s mission and vision resonated with Tony.

He researched charities in which education and children’s development were a priority, and when he met the team at Operation Smile and learned about the plans for the ILC, Tony knew he found the perfect fit for honoring Hideko’s memory.

“I think we are all privileged to be a witness to a man who transcended himself to the highest level of human fulfillment, becoming a humanitarian,” said Fred Facka, the Director of Planned Giving for Operation Smile. “And, in his case, from living a humble life.”