In the Loop

The Newsletter of Federation EIL - Worldwide Network of the Experiment in International Living - December 2009

In This Issue

General Assembly Plans Underway
AIPC Micro-Projects 2009
News from EIL Turkey
EIL Ireland Network Weekend
Coalition Mexico's Membership is Finalized
Update from the UN
EIL UK offers Conversation Corps/Conversation Partners Programs
Travel Award Winners from EIL Ireland Share their Experiences
News from Morocco
Weltwarts Conference Tree Trimming
Short Term Academic Programs Introduced in Ireland
Staff and Website Updates from IYEP Ghana
Links of Interest

General Assembly 2010 Plans Underway CEI Logo

Federation EIL General Assembly Meeting in France April 18 - 22, 2010
The 2010 GA will take place in Paris, France. Our colleagues at CEI have arranged a wonderful venue for us and together with the International Office and the Executive Board are hard at work planning for the arrival of members, partners and guests. Those planning to attend this year's General Assembly should remember that the registration forms and payment for the GA should be sent to CEIL by January 31 - right around the corner!

Paris - Classical, Popular, Trendy. The optional post GA excursion will explore Paris - a city of art, culture, gastronomy and fashion. The program offers you a chance to discover each aspect of Paris through its major landmarks. Visit the Louvre, have a guided visit to various districts, enjoy a cheese tasting an an evening out at the theatre. Around each corner there is something to discover and you will also have free time to enjoy and explore the city on your own . A visit to the Royal Domain of Versailles is included in a full day excursion combined with a visit to Monet's house and gardens at Giverny.

For more information about the 2010 General Assembly, contact the International Office at federation@experiment.org

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Cooperation and Development - AIPC Pandora Micro-projects 2009

AIPC LogoAIPC Pandora hosted volunteers, funders, and collaborators to the presentation of their videos about microprojects 2009 as a celebration of International Volunteers Day. It was also the closure of their International Volunteer Course, so all the students and future volunteers were there. Watch videos from the microprojects at YouTube

The cooperation and development micro-projects consist of community initiatives embedded in sustainable large-scale projects designed to contribute to improving the lives of the people involved. The three month micro-projects are undertaken by teams of 8 to 10 volunteers, coordinated by a leader from AIPC Pandora and a field representative. The projects are prepared in Madrid, followed by their commission and development, which is then monitored as to whether it has met planned objectives and delivered expected results. The main focus areas for projects are education, strengthening community management and the development of productive economic activities. During the summer of 2009, we had four development micro-projects, in Mali, Guatemala, Morocco and Ecuador.

Guatemala - Educational EDINUMI Project - for improving the training of project technicians and to provide additional school equipment

The EDINUMI project is supported by the state funded CONALFA National Literacy program, which develops various training activities for the improvement of literacy. It has operations in the municipalities of Momostenango, Santa María Chiquimula, Chichicastenango y Joyabaj and Jocotán y Camotán. This project will serve over 8,000 individuals aged 12 to 35 years in 400 communities. This specific micro-project took place in Momostenango (Totonicapán) and Jocotan (Chiquimula), with a total of 15 volunteers conducting workshops on "Leadership from a Gender Perspective," Development and Management of Projects”, "Human Relations Marketing”, and "Marketing for Productive Economic Projects.” Additionally, technicians were supported in their monitoring visits to communities, some infrastructural improvement was made, and an equipment donation of 4,500 Euros was made.

Sustainability: International volunteering throughout the year (especially to strengthen the gender focus)

Mali - Project 1: Educational project in Kindergarten Fruits Maria in Mali D'Or

During the summer camp we hold at the school, educators and students worked together to achieve two objectives:
· Promoting autonomy
· Development of creativity

For this there were lots of materials donated by the organization and participants, culminating in three workshops:
· Redecoration of the centre
· Recycled materials
· History of the Niger River

Sustainability: International volunteering throughout the year and 12 scholarships for students at the centre

Mali - Project 2: Installation and training in a multimedia room At the National Centre for the blind

The classroom was equipped with 9 computers, 2 printers, installation materials and equipment for the blind, in collaboration with ONCE, BBVA, La Caixa and UNESCO. A group of seven volunteers worked on the installation of the computers and provided training for ten days to members of the organization.

Sustainability: International volunteering throughout the year, a 2010 micro-project, equipment installation at the library, and a cyber cafe

Morocco - Environmental Campaign in the Ouzoud Waterfalls with the AADECA Association

A group of nine Moroccan and Spanish volunteers participated in environmental work in several areas in Morocco. In Bougamez -restoration of a home for women and children; t-shirt design shop with a message of environmental awareness; garbage collection around the river; and an environmental awareness campaign for the local population around the market. In Azilal - garbage collection was conducted as a public awareness campaign, and meetings were held with various associations to exchange knowledge. In Ouzoud - ongoing pro-environmental awareness campaign.

Sustainability: an international volunteer stay all year and support operations to the representation of AIPC Pandora in Morocco by the international volunteer.

Ecuador - Summer camps in five communities with Fundación Kawsay Saraguro

A group of six volunteers from AIPC Pandora participated in a summer camp for 70 children representing the five Saraguro communities. Development activities promoting the personal and interpersonal development of children, such as gaming, educational activities, workshops, field trips, art, etc were conducted. During the week, work takes place within the communities, through various workshops in theatre, music, painting, etc, which were created and developed by volunteers. During the weekend, camps were held for two days with all the children in particular locations.

Sustainability: the micro-project will be repeated the following year in two phases, serving 50 children in each phase

Submitted by Ana Eseverri - AIPC Pandora

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News from Experiment Turkey

Volunteer Miriam Maxeiner from Germany is our fourth volunteer in rural Deydinler Village near the historic city of Bursa. She is here on Weltwaerts program, a program we run with Experiment Germany and is teaching English to the village people. Each volunteer is here for six months. The village people and the students both greatly benefited from the program .In 2010 we will have a second destination for Weltwaerts program in Seferihisar, a smalltown near near Izmir  by the Aegean cost. Our first volunteer to Seferihisar will arrive in January 2010. The program continues to be a success and we are receiving requests from different ares to host volunteers in their towns.

We recently hosted Edwin Levin from the US (Vermont actually) through ERDT as aVIP participant. Below please find an article he wrote about his experiences. He taught English at public education center and in return for his work, he attended ceramics classes free of charge. The picture below shows him during one of the classes.

Submitted by Nevin Sabuncu - Experiment Turkey

MY VOLUNTEER JOB

I was placed at the Kahem Kadikoy Cultural Center. This is a state supported Adult Education Facility that has been around since the 1930’s. It is a very busy place with all sorts of courses going on at all hours. There is a ticket office at the entrance and there are always people in line. There is a theater there, but I think they must sell for other venues. There is a wide variety of classes including ceramics, music, folk dance as well as language, computers, etc.Ed Levin at the ceramics studio

My job was to assist the English Teacher in classes by engaging the students in speaking practice. This was great fun. In each of the class sections it began the same with students wondering who I was, why was I there, what did I think of Turkey, what did I know about Ataturk and what did I think of Presidents Obama and Bush. Also, there were many “personal questions" that I was told to expect. Turks are curious about other people and it is their way to ask direct questions of each other. I rather enjoyed how that helped us get to know each other better. I did not hesitate to ask them the same kinds of questions.

The students were very appreciative and friendly. As much as I tried I could not buy tea for myself, let alone anyone else at the breaks. Everyone was extremely generous and kind to me. There was a lot of mutual warmth between us. It was really quite remarkable. They also really wanted to learn English. Some had children who were living in the US and others wanted it for their work, or because it is the “international language” which they would need for any tourism outside of Turkey or to read novels in the original language. One guy was a policeman and he wanted to be more helpful to foreigners who ask him for help. Many wanted to come to America for study or tourism.

Some of the students did quite well, and others were really struggling. English pronunciation and language usage was generally pretty poor. Few of the teachers have learned English from native English speakers. The teacher I worked with says they can learn grammar, but have little exposure to good speaking. In the movies and on Television any English is too fast to really absorb. I had a lot of empathy for them as I was also trying to learn Turkish. Once the class is over, they go back to speaking what everyone around them speaks: Turkish.

Often I would create scenarios that would be useful both to practice speaking but exchange information about our cultures. The one that was the most fun was “The Turkish Cooking Show.” This involved a bit of dramatics on my part as I took on the role of the cooking show host and had an individual or pairs of students come to the front and explain how to prepare the things they like to eat and which Americans might like to eat. So, I have recipes for soup, baklava, stuffed grape leaves, manti, Turkish coffee, menemen and others. Because Thanksgiving was coming and I like that holiday, I explained to them how I cook a turkey as well as what the holiday meant to me. I told them that this year one thing I will be very thankful for was meeting them and the experiences we shared together at the Kadikoy Cultural Center. Ed Levin

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EIL Network Weekend Cork– November 2009

The bi-annual network weekends unfalteringly prove to be a big hit with the members of EIL and last weekend’s event was no exception. Even the monsoon-like flooding of Cork (which our sources informed us had transformed the street, on which our hostel was situated, into an outdoor swimming pool just the night before) didn’t deter the overwhelming 40+ enthusiastic members who attended – drinking water or no drinking water!Network Weekend Group

The weekend kicked off in the Victoria Hotel in the heart of Cork when members became acquainted with each other over sandwiches and a cheat-filled game of human bingo. Introductions complete, Sheila Dillon from Trocaire hosted a very informative and hard-hitting workshop on the theme of “Just us of Justice?” – a look into how Irish, and international funding for foreign aid has dwindled in the last few years and the repercussions this has had on those regions that desperately need it the most.

This theme was to be the subject of our street-action campaign that day. So after a workshop, which allowed the budding artists of the group to show their true colours by way of creating banners depicting the Millenium Development Goals, slogans and stop signs, the troup braved the cold weather to take to the street. The first action we had rehearsed was to perform a ‘flash mob’. This involved the members walking around as inconspicuous pedestrains, although I’m not sure how inconspicuous you can be holding a giant coloured scissors and a balloon tied around your wrist! At the signal of the first participant who roared STOP (roared being no exaggeration!) each consecutive member raised their own banner. The aim of this exercise was to draw the attention of the passers-by, which it did particularly thanks to the booming voice of Paul – the designated ‘stop’ man. Once this was over we began asking the passing pedestrians for their signatures to boost our petition requesting the government to stop lowering foreign aid funding and to honour their promises made with regards to the Millenium Development Goals. All-in-all the street action was very productive with a total of 600 signatures collected in just 40 minutes.

Afterwards, it was back to the hostel for dinner and then on to Jury’s Hotel for the evening’s entertainment which consisted of a very comical ‘panel interview’ hosted by Daire Hickey. This involved Daire investigating the experiences of three past volunteers and some very humorous tales surfaced. Afterwards we were treated to a master class in drumming which was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the whole weekend but I’d guess not for those guests sleeping next to our room! Sunday morning saw an early rise (at least for those who stayed on in Jury’s for a while after the drumming) and after breakfast we made our way back to Jury’s for this year’s AGM. During the AGM five members were elected to the Board this year, one previous member Judy Roche and four new members – Brian Denvir, Michael Bamford, Paul Quinn and Daniel Farrell. Congratulations to you all and we wish you all the best of luck.

Once the AGM was brought to a close the members were offered another extremely eye-opening Global Awareness workshop on the topic of HIV AIDs hosted by four EIL members – Ciara Cunningham, Lynda Pyper Roche, Karen Reidy and Barry Morrisson. This workshop, as well as being informative and raising awareness, opened up a lot of dialogue and exchange of opinions between the members and it was evident that there were many points of view which gave everyone more than one perspective on the topic. Particularly interesting were those opinions given by some members of the Zambian-Irish exchange group who had travelled from Zambia and were taking part in our weekend. It was extremely interesting to listen to the perspectives of the natives of those regions whom the virus and its consequences affect the most.

After this, the last event of the weekend was another workshop hosted by the Zambian contingent who performed a role play highlighting the differences between Irish and Zambian culture which raised questions as to gender equality and whether or not the cultural benefits of certain practices outweigh their inequality-promoting factors. As well as the role play we were taught various Zambian chants and dances, which proved to be a big hit and kept all the twinkle-toes of the group very amused! This signaled the end of the weekend but in true EIL form nobody was sent home on an empty stomach and after a lunch of sandwiches and soup everybody said goodbye and went their seperate ways. All-in-all the weekend was highly successful and everybody left more informed, packed with food for thought and with a lot more friendships forged. Thanks to everyone who braved the floods to make it and roll on the next Network Weekend!

Brona Higgins, EIL Development Education Management Committee member

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Cecilia and Josh at the GA in MoroccoNew FEIL Member in Mexico

The FEIL Executive Board voted formally on October 13 to accept Coaliciòn Mexico for Associate Membership, effective in 2009. This action followed the authorization given to the Executive Board in Morocco to make this final decision after providing an opportunity for members to review the application materials. This marks a very important milestone for Federation EIL. The coalition model being piloted in Mexico demonstrates our capacity to innovate and find practical solutions that will help Federation EIL move forward. Congratulations and a warm welcome to Coaliciòn Mexico.

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Update from the UN

All aspects of the work of the UN are dependent upon the efforts made by civil society to influence their countrymen and their governments to enact the declarations, conventions, and programs of the United Nations. This has always been the message of the Department of Public Information and is the reason that Federation EIL is an ECOSOC member of the UN/NGO delegates. The representatives were given many resources to share with our members.  

I was struck once more with the potential and enormous effects the Federation’s global education work has on our experimenters, their families and the communities they visit.  I realize this is speaking to the choir, but I still think it is a good and useful reminder.  We may ask how we can influence the UN body, yet we are asked again and again how the work of the UN influences us.  This can only be done by education of our participants and their influence on their governments however that may express itself.  

As I listened to the briefings this year on such topics as Peacekeeping, Seal the Deal for Climate Change, World Hunger, Elimination of Violence Against Women, and more, I was constantly reminded of the relevancy of these issues in my own country as anywhere in the world.  I asked myself about the relationship between what the UN peacekeeping forces are doing to lay the groundwork for keeping the peace and the work that our local police force does to protect us from urban violence or street gangs. What is the relationship between trafficking in the sextrade across the borders of Thailand or Bangladesh and the trafficking of humans in my country?  Have I spoken to or written my congresspeople to support efforts to control climate change? How can I contribute to ending hunger by working in a local soup kitchen, sending a check to UNICEF or calling my congressional representatives to support international aid?  

Global Corruption is being addressed through a global anti-corruption campaign promoted by The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the United Nations Development Programme.  The Anti-Corrpution Convention has only been in effect since 2005 and 144 countries have signed on to impliment it.  What corporations are paying bribes to governments for “doing business” in their countries and how much is going into pockets rather than social or economic programs?  Transparency International and the UN Global Compact keep track of these actions and issues.

What can I do the help your work on bringing these issues to your outgoing and incoming participants so we can strengthen the global EIL network to effect civil society in so many countries?  I am presented with so many informational resources in these briefings it is difficult to list them all.  I have begun to collect these and am happy to share them with you through the International office and research any of particular interest. Please contact Ilene if you have any areas of specific interest.

Connie Crosson

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Conversation Corps/Conversation Partner Programmmes offered in the UK Conversation Corps Logo

EIL UK has formed a partnership with GeoVisions in America to offer the ‘Conversation Corps’ and ‘Conversation Partner’ to British citizens as a new outbound programme. Both of these programmes use native English speakers as tutors to either individuals or groups who wish to improve their conversational English. For Conversation Corps – the tutor is living with and tutoring a family, and with Conversation Partner – the tutor is working with a group of people from an organisation, for example a school or government department. The agreement was signed in November with the first applicant joining one of the programmes at the beginning of December. Other Federation partners are currently working with these same programmes as receiving offices: Ecuador, France, Italy, Mexico and Turkey.

Click here to read the GeoVisions press release about the new programme in the UK.

Local communities and local projects through the eyes of the Travel Awards winners -
by Anna Madden, EIL Intercultural Learning, member and volunteer

The over-riding impression from conversations with the enthusiastic returned volunteers was that while the people whom they went out to help had very little relative to the volunteers, they were more generous than they could have ever expected, giving each of them a warm welcome. Whichever country the volunteer was describing and despite the different experiences in their respective countries, each of the four guys - travel award winners for 2009 - missed the very same thing on their return - the people. They described the chats they shared, the friendly outlook and slower pace of life they enjoyed while volunteering. The volunteers mentioned the sense of community they encountered, how in the Nigerian city, everyone was treated as family and how in the Mexican village, no one in the community was left wanting.

Their volunteering placements in Nigeria, Argentina, Ecuador and Mexico were all very different, but the volunteers came back with similar impressions on poverty and wealth; on how we overvalue materiality here in Ireland, while other people make do with much less, accepting what they have and enjoying what their life offers. Alan Ralph, award winner to Argentina, found that “even though the people had very little money that they were still great fun and polite.” Noel Carrol told how even though there was obvious poverty where he was in Nigeria, no one ever took advantage of him as an outsider; instead they treated him as a guest: “strangers insisted on paying for food and transport”.

The guys shared some of their stories, such as the ten year old boy from a village in Mexico who accompanied Brian Denvir to a place to wash his clothes, helping him while the pair sang loudly together. Noel saw the humor of how in his Nigerian city, people might have four mobile phones but live in a shack with maybe an hour of electricity a day. He also spoke about corruption- how as a result people did not call the police if there was a crime, instead crime was dealt with by the community, The importance of religion in daily life and how the people he met in Nigeria lived their Christian beliefs had a strong impact on Noel… “the genuine love they show for each other on a daily basis… their honesty.. how happy and polite.. always willing to help…” The laid back attitude towards time in Mexico took a bit of getting used to for Brian, he described how turning up at 4pm for a 3pm work start was absolutely normal, no explanation or apology needed, everyone just started the task an hour late.

Gary Finnerty noted how the recession hype went unremarked in his community in Ecuador; how they are familiar with the less prosperous times, people continue living their lives as they have done for years, doing what they can with what little they have.
The four volunteers all said that while they went out to help the communities in which they volunteered, the same communities taught them so much in terms of how we need not rely on material wealth to bring happiness, as described by Noel: “I realise now material things in life are not too important. It's family and friends that matter most. Running water and electricity are also not that important and you can live without them.” From his time working with street children in Argentina, Alan realised how fortunate we here in Ireland are relative to others, “ I realised how wealthy Ireland is and what a developed and supportive country we have, particularly in areas such as education, health and finance.” Brian discovered that while the community in Ventanilla had very little, it did not need very much, “it truly was 'la vida buena' and the people are not motivated by money to the same fanatical extent as people here in Europe.” At the same time, he talked about how people in Ventanilla “are incredibly hard working - the weekend doesn't exist, they work every day of the year to keep the community functioning, and keep their ecotourism project ticking over.” He hopes that he has learnt some lessons from them.

The four men shared some of the ideas that they brought back, for Irish people to help others: Gary recommended keeping an open mind to other cultures and also recommended taking time off to go volunteer; Noel stressed how donating your time is invaluable; Alan thought that volunteering raises awareness of what needs to be done as well as helping people and Brian thought we could learn from the indigenous communities in Mexico to waste nothing, in particular food and electricity. The lessons learnt were to value community and people, and to work together for our community.

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News from Morocco Thaqafat members on their trip this fall

From the 7th to the 9th of December of this year, a group of Thaqafat Association (EIL Morocco) members organized a trip to the northern part of Morocco to visit many active associations in that part of the country. The trip included visiting the cities of Assilah, Tangier, Chefchouen and two other small villages in that region. This was organized so as to develop new and interesting host projects for Thaqafat’s current programs (Summer Abroad Program and VIP) and also to promote new potential programs for the future with these NGOs.

Those associations that we have visited are dealing with various themes in rural and urban areas alike such as Violence against Women (in the big cities of the north as well as its small villages), Needy Children, Development, and Environment. All the organizations we visited showed a great interest in hosting our program participants through the Summer Program, VIP or any other ones hosted by Thaqafat. The volunteers are in great demand by those associations who are eager to host volunteers to teach languages ( English, French and Spanish), to create or update English versions of their websites, and working with needy children. To sum up this was a very fruitful trip to the development of our organization and its programs.

Fairouz El Hamdaoui

Weltwärts Conference Tree Trimming Party The tree in process and the final product. Beautiful!

During the weltwärts conference in Germany, the Bonn office took the chance to organise a “Christmas Tree Trimming Party” for participants, friends, host-families and curious guests.  The tree was decorated with pictures sent from all different Working Experiences participants, EVS Voluteers, VIP Volunteers, Weltwaerts Volunteers and Demi Pairs.

Participants were told we were having an open door day and Christmas celebration with some of our local coordinators from abroad. We told them we were thinking of them and wishing them a wonderful Christmas wherever they are. We asked them to send us a picture and if they wished so, a short message. Some wrote a Christmas message, some just described their momentary spirit, some simply sent their smiling faces. But the imediate response of nearly 50 participants showed us once more, we are in the right path with our work. The boughs were bent though the heavy weight of the tags from all over the continents.

It was a perfect sunny and cold day to have a cup of hot punch or wine and to decorate the 3 meter tall fir-tree that was set up the day before. Thank you all for this wonderful day! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone!

Petra Keller, Experiment Germany

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Short Term Academic Programs in Ireland

EIL Intercultural Learning's new brochure for short term academic programsEIL Ireland have launched a new initiative in the field of short term academic programs in Ireland. Responding to what appears to be a growing demand for study abroad experiences and the appetite for learning about the disparate cultures of the world we live in, we have developed a series of sample programs that we hope will appeal to Study Abroad advisors and faculty in the U.S.

EIL Ireland are more than happy also to custom design a faculty led program in Ireland and we look forward to the potential opportunities this may bring! Click here to find out more

Fiona O'Leary

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New Staff and Website at IYEP

IYEP Ghana announces a brand new website at: www.iyep.org.The old url will cease to function as of the first of the year. They also have made some staff changes. Please take a moment to visit the new site, and make note of the new email addresses.

Ms. Nana Adjoa Korantemaa - Work and Travel, VIP - adjoa@iyep.org

Mr. Edem Adjadeh - Marketing and Summer jobs - edem@iyep.org

Mr. Winfred Antwi - Media and Publicity - winfereded@iyep.org

Yaw Frimpong - Accounts and Supervision - yaw@iyep.org

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Links of Interest:

Travelling Naturally and Green Earth Guides

UN Economic and Social Council 

UN Millennium project

UNESCO Culture of Peace  

Council of Europe

Every Human Has Rights Campaign

NAFSA Resources for Study Abroad offices

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Federation EIL News