In the Loop

The Newsletter of Federation EIL - Worldwide Network of the Experiment in International Living - December 2008

In This Issue

General Assembly Meeting 2009 - Rabat Morocco
News from FEIL's UN representative
"A Teahouse in Turkey" A Collaboration between EIL Turkey and The University of Manitoba
World Learning Board members visit TLE/Experiment Argentina
Experiment Germany's Holiday Homestay Program
News from SASTS
VIP Offers Programs in New Zealand, Mexico and Peru
News from CEI France
EIL Ireland Celebrates Human Rights
Volunteers in Thailand take part in Loi Krathong
Udates from EIL Chile and EIL Turkey
Links of Interest

General Assembly Meeting and Volunteer Program 2009 in Morocco April 20-25

The GA and parallel volunteer program will take place in Rabat Morocco. Our friends and colleagues at Thaqafat Association are busy planning for a great meeting with plenty of exposure to Moroccan culture included in the schedule. Federation members and friends planning to attend this year's General Assembly should remember that the registration forms and payment for the GA should be sent to Thaqafat by January 31 - right around the corner!

Once again we will be offering a special volunteer program for staff, alumni and friends that will run parallel to the General Assembly. It will be an opportunity to learn about Morocco, contribute to a specially selected volunteer service project and be part of the exciting excursions and cultural activities that are being arranged for all delegates and volunteers. This year, three service projects are offered: teach English in an elementary or secondary school, create and participate in activities with a community youth organization, or plant trees as part of an environmental project. We encourage you to make this opportunity known to the wider Experiment community so that this will be a truly international experience. MarrakechThe details and forms are on the Federation website.

The optional post GA excursion offering will take you first to the Imperial City at Meknes and the old Sultan’s Palace that dates back to the time when Meknes was Morocco’s Capital. From there to Erfoud and the market town of Rissani, the last oasis village on the Ziz river. Then into the desert to climb the 650 foot dunes at Merzouga, experience sunset in the desert and a spectacular night spent under the tents. The final stop will be Marrakech, the bastion of Berber culture and symbol of the Morocco that once was and which still survives here.

More information about the meeting, the volunteer program and the excursion are available on the member resources website.

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News from Federation EIL’s UN Representative, Connie Crosson

A special welcome to Connie Crosson who has, since September, been representing Federation EIL at the United Nations weekly NGO Briefings. Several issues of interest have been presented such as "Relevance of the UN in the Field", "Violence against Women", "Disarmament: Fresh Answers to Old Questions" and "World Diabetes Day: Providing Assistance to Children with Diabetes", and Millennium Villages to name a few.

We asked her to provide a short piece for the Newsletter on Millennium Villages which are based on a bottom-up, integrated, multi-sector approach tied into the eight Millennium Development Goals to: 1) Eradicate Extreme Hunger and Poverty; 2) Achieve Universal Primary Education; 3) Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women; 4) Reduce Child Mortality; 5) Improve Maternal Health; 6) Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases; 7) Ensure Environmental Sustainability; and 8) Develop a Global Partnership for Development. The target date for the achievement of these goals is 2015.

The concept for Millennium Villages was developed by a team of scientific experts at The Earth Institute at Columbia University and the UN Millennium Project to implement Quick Impact Initiatives, such as school-feeding programs; increased agricultural production through training, uses of fertilizer and seeds; health services aimed at HIV/AIDS, malaria, child health and family planning; and new micro-finance initiative to help people start businesses and mobile banking units to increase personal savings. The three primary sponsors of the Millennium Villages are Millennium Promise, The Earth Institute and UNDP, including innovative partnerships which include alliances with the corporate world, bi-lateral partners, members of the UN system, and NGOs.

There are more than 80 Millennium Villages operating or planned in ten different countries in Africa: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda. Initial implementation began in 2005, so most are less than 3 yrs. into the process. The findings to date are positive, although endangered by reduced funding due to the global financial crisis.

The main message from the UN Briefing, November 6, 2008, was that these Villages are meant to offer a new model for helping rural communities, beginning with those in Africa, to become self-sustaining, developing the capacity to achieve self-sufficiency. The expectation is that this new model will be duplicated to other regions of Africa and the world as success is indicated and funding become available.

Connie CrossonThere are several possibilities for interested individuals or organizations to become involvement in this process, mainly by lobbying their governments to provide already promised funds to the UN Millennium Development Goals Project and by working with Millennium Promises ( to raise funds to buy needed resources. Millennium Promises offers internships for students enrolled in university programs. See their website for more information and applications.

Connie is a graduate of SIT ICT 12 and has served as a host family for several Experimenters.  She worked with the AuPair program startup and is the parent of an Experimenter to Germany.   Today she serves as a consultant to several non-profit organizations and is familiar with the NGO community through various committees and activities.  In 2001, Connie spent six months as a consultant to CONGO, the association of NGOs in Consultative Status with the UN. She is pictured at left outside the city gates of Toledo, Spain during a trip last May . return to top

A Teahouse in Turkey

The finished teahouseEarly in 2004, Kelley Beaverford, a professor from the University of Manitoba, contacted the FEIL International office with an interest in developing an overseas project to design, build and participate in a community construction project. The Experiment office in Turkey responded with available community resources for home stays and a project that met the criteria for the program. In May of 2005, a group of nine students went to the rural village of Deydinler, Turkey, to design the partial restoration of a 400 year old Turkish bath.Taking a break for tea

The relationship between the University and Experiment Turkey was forged, and continued in 2007 with another design build project in the same town. The project was part of a course called Service Learning in the Global Community, designed to promote intercultural competencies – a perfect match for the Experiment! This time, it was a teahouse and garden that would be built, and it brought together the two cultures as students and villagers worked together on their common goal.

Kelley Beaverford wrote an article for the fall 2008 issue of a Canadian landscape architecture magazine, “Landscapes” about the service learning project as a collaboration across cultures. Click here for a PDF version of the article which includes pictures of the completed teahouse and the workers and villagers working to make it happen. Pictured at right are some of the students and villagers having tea on the construction site early this summer, and the finished teahouse above.

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US Experiment/World Learning Board Members visit EIL Argentina

On Wednesday November 19th, 2008 The Language Experience/ Experiment Argentina had the privilege of being visited by 7 members of the Board of Trustees of World Learning/the US Experiment in International Living. The group included Phillip and Mary Oppenheimer, Rosamond Delori, Virginia Loeb, Mary Hass, Ron Leavitt and Susan Plimpton.Some WL board members at the office in Argentina

During their morning visit, Jean Wittman – Director of Experiment Argentina TLE - gave a complete and touching presentation of the long history of EIL Argentina. After a brief coffee break taking advantage of the spring weather and the flowers in TLE EIL offices garden, Valerie Manoukian presented an overall view of the Community Service and Volunteer (VIP) Programs in Argentina.

First Eugenio – who coordinates the Summer Abroad Visual Arts photo and pinhole camera workshops - presented the ph 15 foundation including photos taken both by ph15 and Summer Abroad students. Following, two volunteers from Germany - Caterina and Johannes - shared their own experiences . Caterina at that moment was working as an intern in the EIL office and presented her VIP to Costa Rica. Johannes, an AdiA Weltwaert participant, described his experience at the Food Bank in Tandil Province of Buenos Aires.

Jean and a board memberThe members of the Board of Trustees expressed interest in learning more about different activities that Experiment offices, in this specific case EIL Germany, promote. Others suggested that all Board of Trustees should be part of a trip like this and different ways of contributing to the programs were discussed (i.e. sending used cameras to the ph15 project etc.).

Following this everyone enjoyed homemade dips, together with Daniel’s “chorizos and lomitos” the way Argentines enjoy a good “asado” - of course accompanied by a great malbec wine!

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Holiday Homestay Program with Experiment Germany - 110 students from all over the world celebrate the holidays with a German host family - by Bettina Wiedmann

During the last couple of years, Germany has become more and more attractive for university students from all over the worldOliver Masiyakurima at his Holiday Homestay who come here to attend a German university for a semester or more. While this is a great start, we have realized that there is still not enough contact between these students and German families. The students live in dorms where they spend their free time with other students from abroad and there is little interaction with other German students and even less interaction with German families. Therefore, these students do not really gain proper insight into everyday German life. At the same time, we as Germans miss out on the opportunity of getting to know them and learning about their culture.

This has led the German Experiment to look for ways to facilitate an exchange between students from abroad and German families. With the financial help of the German foreign ministry, we have been organizing homestay programs for students from abroad for several years now and one of our most popular programs is our Holiday Homestay Program. This year, from the 20th of December until the 3rd of January, 110 students will spend the holidays with a German family. The students come from all over the world. They either come from countries where there is no Christmas or they cannot afford to travel home to spend Christmas with their families. The biggest group of students is from China while the second biggest is from the Arab world, but we also have participants from Latin America, Africa and Europe. Each year, both sides highly enjoy this program and benefit immensely from the exchange. We hope that we can continue with this program for many years to come! Pictured at right is Oliver from Zimbabwe during his Holiday Homestay. return to top

News from SASTS - FEIL's partner in South Africa - by Alex Bleach

SASTS Foundation
Over the past few months the SASTS Foundation has contributed financially to a couple of our very special projects and have provided much needed support to assist the Volunteers with what they have hoped to achieve whilst at their projects. Some of these donations have included helping schools with shows and donating materials and prizes.Children from Nolito's Creche in Kyamundi

The Foundation also donated new mattresses to Lovies Educare as the children were sleeping on the hard, cold floor of the crèche and we felt that it was a very worthwhile donation to be made. The Foundation also donated a day out for the children of Nolito’s Creche in Kyamundi for an outing to the beach, this was very exciting and life changing as these children had never seen the beach or the sea before.

SASTS Volunteer House
The SASTS Volunteer House has reopened its doors after being closed for a couple of weeks for much needed maintenance and repairs. We have totally rebuilt the kitchen ceiling, replacing the wooden Joist beams, putting in a brand new ceiling and repainting the entire kitchen. Upstairs we have rebuilt all 5 of our showers and have added shower doors and mats and retiled everything and repainted the bathrooms as well.

SASTS Volunteer HouseDue to the increase in petty theft in Cape Town around the festive season we have recently fitted a new security system to the house door whereby Volunteers now have to enter a security pincode to gain access to the house with a magnetised gate. Thobela Dick has been hired as the new full time house manager and his legendary local “braais” on the weekends are proving to be very popular with the volunteers.

Volunteer Christmas Party
On Friday 12th of December all the SASTS staff and Volunteers in the Country are having a pool party at a local Sea point pool, the afternoon will be spent chatting, tanning and swimming and a picnic lunch will also be served. This gives the staff and the Volunteers an opportunity to mingle and get to know each other better in a fun, sunny outdoor environment.

Host & Project Training
On Saturday 22nd of November SASTS hosted its annual Host and Project Training at our offices. The morning was a resounding success with more than 120 people attending. We covered subjects such as the importance of communication, needs of the local communities, new opportunities in hosting, rules and regulations of the programme and many more subjects.

We had a very positive feedback session and question and answer time. Two of our hosts made speeches highlighting the very positive and real contribution our volunteers are making to the local communities, projects and the lives of so many South African.

I also wanted to say how very glad I am to be a part of the EIL family and especially being the host organisation in South Africa for the VIP programme and I hope that 2009 will bring about even bigger and better change and community involvement for us in South Africa. Thank you!

VIP Offers New Programs in Mexico, New Zealand and Peru

Volunteers for International Partnership, a program of participating members of FEIL, is pleased to add three new volunteer destinations: New Zealand, Mexico and Peru. Wellington Business School, the VIP partner in New Zealand, has put together a program combining Maori culture and English language courses while living with a host family, and conservation projects around the country. One project -The Nga Uruora - Kapiti Project Charitable Trust - is a community based conservation project with a big work program and an even bigger vision. Set up in 1997 to reverse the drastic decline of coastal forest, they are aiming to create a continuous ribbon of bird-safe native forest running from Porirua through to Waikanae.

In Mexico, PEI- Programas Educativos Interculturales offers homestays, optional Spanish language courses, and several A volunteer with English studentsvolunteer project types from Education and Community Development to Eco-Tourism. One eco-tourism project, a cooperative venture in the beach village of La Ventanilla in Oaxaca State, was set up to stop the killing and selling of turtles and their eggs and has grown in to a sustainable development project which generates alternative sources of income for the local people. Twenty five families living in the village are actively involved in the co-operative which has among its goals to rescue the natural habitat of hundreds of species of birds and reptiles and the promotion of eco-tourism. Pictured at right is a volunteer teacher of English in Mexico.

Another VIP office in Mexico, Lamat AC, will be offering their programs soon. More information is on the website for both New Zealand and Mexico, at

INTEJ - Promoter of integration and educational tourism for young people - has recently signed on to provide volunteer programs in Peru. The will be offering project options in health, community development and education. Their projects will be on the website soon.

News from CEI France

AYP Participant From CEI France to EIL Japan

Claire, a 16-year-old French girl, spent the 2007-2008 academic year in Japan. Angélina Lecouturier, part of CEI France and Sachie Endo, part of EIL Japan worked closely to make this come true. Claire lived with a host family in the town of Yokohama. Claire was enrolled in a High School and will always remember her first day at school. The Japanese girls were very excited to welcome her into their school. When they saw Claire on the first day, they shouted “CHO KAWAIII !!” (which means “SO CUTE” ). Claire had a lot of fun at her High School because everyone was very attentive and caring towards her. Hiking Mount Fuji and feeling the earthquakes were part of Japanese life she experienced. Claire’s dream came true thanks to EIL Japan! To know more about Claire’s adventure "en français" :

Orientation Meeting

From CEI France to EIL Germany
Florence Repillez, part of CEI inbound department, attended the orientation meeting on the 15th Of June 2008 in Oberwesel, Germany. It was a unique opportunity for German students to learn more about their future host country and to ask all the questions they wanted about France. Florence met the German Experiment team; from left to right : Katharina Meissner, Amelie Zimmermann, Angela Berg, Florence Repillez, Sabine Stedtfeld

EIL Ireland Celebrates the 60th Anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights

2008 is the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. EIL Ireland marked this with workshops and public action on Human Rights at the Network Weekend on the 15th November. These were the key events of the day:

Talk on Human Rights
The participants to the Network meeting attended an interactive talk on Human Rights facilitated by Uche, a female refugee from Nigeria currently living in Ireland. This was a great opportunity for all who attended to learn about the challenges experienced by refugees in Ireland and rArt Workshop Participantseflect on the issue of human rights more widely.

Art workshop
The participants were divided in small groups and each group was asked to represent a different human right as outlined in the Universal Declaration. This was done through creative messages decorated on large cardboard foot shaped canvases. The aim was to represent the steps towards rights recognition, implementation and protection.

Public action
The EIL Network participants were joined by other organisations, including Amnesty International and YMCA, for a public action in Cork’s city centre. The feet were displayed on St Patrick Street and copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were distributed to the general public.

Visit the website - - to read the declaration, make a pledge of committment, and get involved.

VIP volunteers take part in a Thai festival - Loi Krathong
By Daniel and Rahel from EIL Germany

Krathongs on the riverTaking part in festivals really helps adapting to a foreign country and gives you a feeling of being part of a community. It also tells you a lot about the beliefs of the local people.

One of the most important Thai festivals is “Loi Krathong”, which is celebrated on a fullmoon night in November and has hinduistic origins. To honor and thank the River Goddess, everyone releases a small banana boat (Krathong) into the water. The traditional ones are made out of a piece of a banana tree trunk and decorated with elaborately folded banana leaves and flowers. A candle and some incense sticks are added, sometimes also money for good luck. The festival was adapted to Buddhist beliefs: The light of the candle honors Buddha and releasing the float is a symbol for letting go of your anger, grudges and other negative feelings. To emphasize this aspect, some people cut off a bit of their hair and put it on the Krathong.

Making the Krathongs is quite a test of your handicraft skills. After two hours of work, we were happy with the result, although our self-made Krathong was no match for most of the Thai ones!

At night, we made our way to the river in our village along with our host families. Almost everyone was there, so it got quite crowded. Near the river there was a lively night market, with music, dancing and of course lots of food. Loi Krathong is a sociable event; most people go to the river with their family and friends. We strolled over the night market; there was music, lights and children running around in the twilight.

Lighting paper lanternsPeople also let balloon-like paper lanterns (Khom Fai) fly in the night sky. It is believed that this is like flying grief and bad fortune away from you and your home. Launching them was quite difficult but great fun! Our host mother had bought them two years ago in Chiang Mai, so they were a bit old. One had a hole and ended up flying into the trees - we quickly had to extinguish it.

The river is already dotted with the small lights of many Krathongs moving downstream, carried by the current. We walk down a little wooden bridge, the bamboo creaking beneath our feet, and we kneel down and light the candles and the incense stick on our Krathongs. And then we just sit there for a while, holding the Krathong, looking at the candle and the river beneath our feet.

We let my Krathongs slide into the water, and after a moment the current carries it away from us. The Thai word for “river” is “Mae naam” (Mother water). This tells you a lot about how Thais used to think and feel about “their river” for centuries and sometimes still do today. We watch our Krathongs float away until its golden light is swallowed by the darkness. return to top

Updates from around the Experiment World

Maite Jorqera Castellon


From EIL Chile: A warm welcome to Maite Jorquera Castellon, granddaughter of Agustin Castellon of Experiment Chile, born October 4. She is pictured at left at 2 weeks old wearing an Experiment bib - Expect the Unexpected!

From EIL Turkey: We also welcome Mr.Adnan Topkapi who has joined the EIL Turkey team as program coordinator. Adnan graduated from university in 2007 as English/German translator and speaks both languages fluently. He can be reached at


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Links of Interest:

•WYSETC Research and Publications: Download their latest reports - "Youth Travel Matters: Understanding the Global Phenomenon of Youth Travel” Released June 2008 by WYSE Travel Confederation and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO)

•Click here for a library of forms and documents that have been created by US colleges and universities for use by Study Abroad Offices. The forms posted on safety and emergency preparations are particularly helpful.

Other links:

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