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The Anthony L. and Hideko S. Burgess Interactive Learning Center

Now Accepting Requests for In-Person and Virtual Field Trips and Tours for Fall 2021


Welcome to the Anthony L. and Hideko S. Burgess Interactive Learning Center (ILC)! We’re thrilled to give you a glimpse into our work. On your journey through the ILC, you’ll learn more about the patients and families we serve and our amazing volunteers who work together to bring healing and smiles to those who need it most.  

We hope the ILC will serve as a “Window to the World,” allowing visitors to journey alongside our friends who are affected by cleft conditions as they seek the safe surgery and comprehensive care they need and deserve. With empathy and compassion at the heart of the exhibit, ILC guests will better understand the challenges that patients and their families overcome on their paths toward brighter futures. 

This immersive experience seeks to educate students, the community and visitors to Virginia Beach about culture, medicine, geography, and leadership.  


The ILC was created to bring people closer to the organization’s work through the perspectives of nine friends – real Operation Smile patients who, despite many challenges and barriers, courageously took action and joined us in hopes of receiving surgery and other essential treatments at medical missions or care centers around the world.

Set in the birthplace of Operation Smile, the Philippines, the exhibit is equal parts legacy and learning. While visitors will learn all about Operation Smile and its global efforts to deliver essential cleft care where it’s needed most, the exhibit teaches visitors 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). Perhaps most importantly, we hope everyone who experiences the ILC will leave with a greater sense of empathy and capacity for kindness.

Whether you’re an educator with a classroom of students, a curious supporter, a corporate partner or someone who just wants to learn more about Operation Smile, we invite you all to meet our friends and follow in their footsteps as they journey to the program site.

Plan Your Visit

Out of an abundance of caution for the safety of our visitors, staff and volunteers, the ILC will safely open to the public later in 2021 in accordance with COVID-19 regulations as mandated by the commonwealth of Virginia and city of Virginia Beach. ​The ILC can also offer virtual field trip and virtual tour experiences to schools, classrooms and community groups. 

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.” 


It takes as little as $240 and as few as 45 minutes to provide life-changing surgery and a bright, beautiful new smile to a waiting child.