In the Loop

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

Dear Experiment Friends,

One of the many outcomes of the recently held General Assembly meeting in New Associate MembersCape Town, South Africa was the election of a new executive board. Rashid Toefy, currently on the board of SASTS, was elected president and took the helm immediately upon election. Jean Wittman from Experiment Argentina and Bettina Wiedmann from Experiment Germany were elected Vice Presidents to join Steve Fitch who continues in his role as Vice President until the end of 2008. Another outcome was the approval of the application from YES International-Republic of Korea as Federation EIL's new associate member. A warm welcome to Jinsu Yom (President) and Jihyun Park (Director) of YES, pictured at right with Rashid Toefy.

Federation members were also pleased to meet observers from new organizations: Jiong (Jessie) Duanmu, Shanghai Xu Bo Art and Culture Exchange, China; Eygló Hardardóttir, Ninukot, Iceland; Ninad and Vinita Sharma, IDEX, India; and Robin Pendolay, Thinking Beyond Borders, USA. Roxana O'Harra of ERDT-USA, Joshua Tripp of LAMAT-Mexico, Cecilia Gamez of PEI-Mexico, and Deborah Friedman, SIT graduate and former World Learning board member also attended.

Many thanks to our colleagues at SASTS for organizing and hosting the GA, and for giving us a glimpse of their fascinating country. It's never to early to plan for the next GA so please mark your calendars-the 2009 General Assembly will be in Rabat, Morocco hosted by our colleagues at Thaqafat Association.  Arrival will be on April 20 and departure on April 25.

This issue of the newsletter features a story by participants in the volunteer program that took place parallel to the GA, with photos taken at the Kayamandi community. Experiment Argentina received their first group of "weltwaerts" from Germany and the Robertson Scholars from the US. Federation EIL named new representatives to the UN, EIL Ireland volunteers launch the "Take 5" campaign, a 60th reunion, and the SIT graduation are also in this issue. As always, we welcome your comments and your suggestions for future issues. Enjoy the newsletter!

Ilene Todd and Elaine Stiles

Federation EIL International Office

In This Issue

beadwork from South Africa Kevin Hickey and Stephen Fitch Recognized for their Service
beadwork from South Africa Volunteer Program Parallels GA
beadwork from South Africa EIL Argentina welcomes Robertson Scholars and "Weltwaerts"
beadwork from South Africa New Federation Reps Named for the UN
beadwork from South Africa Windows on America Program
beadwork from South Africa EIL Ireland Volunteers Launch "Take 5" Campaign
beadwork from South Africa 60th Anniversary Reunion
beadwork from South Africa A Volunteer Story from Turkey
beadwork from South Africa Joseph Sebarenzi is Keynote Speaker at SIT Graduation
beadwork from South Africa EIL Ireland's Travel Award Winners
beadwork from South Africa Update from Canada - The newest Experimenter
beadwork from South Africa Links of Interest

Kevin Hickey and Steve Fitch Recognized for their Service

On the evening of May 2, 2008 Kevin Hickey's term as President of Federation EIL came to an official close.  At the GA 2008 Farewell Dinner, incoming president, Rashid Toefy, presented Kevin with a traditional South African painting as a token of appreciation from all of the members, and expressed our deepest gratitude to him for his leadership, dedication and commitment to Federation EIL.  

Although Steve Fitch could not be present in Cape Town, the membership also wished to acknowledge his outstanding service and the coming end of his Vice Presidential term in December.  The following statement was read into the official GA minutes:

"The members of Federation EIL are extremely grateful to Stephen Fitch for serving two terms on the Executive Board. He is especially appreciated for his financial expertise and the wisdom and perspective he brings to the role of Vice President. Although his current term will expire at the end of 2008, we hope that we can continue to count on his advice and councel. As both a friend and colleague, he will always be a welcome addition at future GAs."

Volunteer group enjoys interesting and intense days in Kayamandi

Parallel to the General Assembly, a group of eleven Experimenters from India, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire and Germany spent their time as this year’s volunteer group in Kayamandi Township. Most Child with poster in Kayamandivolunteers in our group were able to come to South Africa through travel stipends from our respective Experiment offices. With seven out of eleven being German, the volunteer group was country-wise a bit one sided but among them were active volunteers, board and staff members – each bringing a unique perspective to the days in Stellenbosch and Kayamandi. The theme of the volunteer group at Kayamandi was “Learning can be so much fun” and we were trying to make the children aware of their rights to be loved and treated with respect.

It is, of course, difficult to be able to “achieve” a lot with eleven people during a short period of three days in a project. Therefore our project’s main objective was the performance of a play in front of 150 children on May 1st, followed by a march through the streets of Kayamandi. Tuesday and Wednesday, while the General Assembly held their administrative sessions, were filled with getting the performance together and practicing the different aspects: the dance, the song, and the play. In the evenings and on Friday the volunteer group joined the delegates of the General Assembly. Apart from the regular dinners at night we also took part in the trip to Robben Island.

Our performance on Thursday was a success. Although we don’t really know if the children laughed WITH or AT us, we were able to provide them with a day of laughter, activities they hadn’t done in a while and the interaction with people from different countries. We were not able to change the world in those three days but a laugh, a smile and the assurance that each of them is special may help them to move with a bit more self-confidence through their lives ahead.

Although three days in Kayamandi were not a lot of time, each member of the volunteer group was able to experience life in Kayamandi and was able to meet the amazing and extraordinarily dedicated people in the community like Vuyo and Yeki. It was a great opportunity for us as staff members of the German Experiment to see what kind of programs SASTS runs in the community and to get a feeling for life as a volunteer in our VIP programs. In addition we were able to meet presidents, executive directors and other staff members from other Experiment offices worldwide and can now put names and faces together which makes our everyday work so much more enjoyable.

We would like to take the opportunity to thank the staff members at SASTS for making our stay in Kayamandi as easy as possible, for answering the thousand questions we had about South Africa and South Africa’s history and for letting us get a great insight into their culture and into today’s South Africa.

We would have loved more volunteers from other countries worldwide and will continue to work for that goal. The volunteer group, in our opinion, is a great idea to bring Experimenters from all over the world together and experience first-hand what our work, our visions and our goals are about – living together and learning together. Click to see more photos from Kayamandi.

Martina Luis and Tom Kurz

Experiment Germany

return to top

Experiment Argentina welcomes groups from Germany and the US

'Weltwaerts' from Germany

As part of a new initiative by the German Ministry on Economic Cooperation and Development, a new volunteer service called “weltwaerts” was launched earlier this year. Kaddy, Anita, Bettina, Raffi, Tobias and David joined our office (in Buenos Aires) in April as our first 'weltwaerts' of this year, and while we learned about them, they took Spanish lessons and experienced the city of Buenos Aires.Weltwaerts

Then they traveled by bus to their host communities where currently they are working on their different projects:

  • Kaddy and Anita are in Chilecito, La Rioja. Kaddy is teaching sports at a public gymnastic centre as well as classical dances in another school to young girls. Anita is working at a public school for disabled children.
  • Bettina and Raffi are in San Luis, both at soup kitchens. Bettina is helping street children with school work and discipline and Raffi is preparing and serving food .
  • The two boys are in Tucumán. Tobias is working for an organization in human rights and social studies and David with disabled children.

To date all 6 Weltwaerts are doing a fantastic job, not only at their projects but learning the differences in culture and, above all, the language.

Robertson ScholarsRobertson Scholars from the US

For the fourth consecutive year, the Robertson Scholars have come to Argentina. Andrew, Anthony, Eric, Jaron, Micheal and Nabil arrived in Buenos Aires on May 14th and have been immersing themselves in Argentine life through different activities organized by our office. These activities range from experiencing the city taking tango and Spanish classes, participating in  lectures and round table discussions on different topics, interacting with  people from different ranges of life and visiting community centres.  They now travel to Salta for the next five weeks where they continue to learn about Argentina as well as work on different community service projects and finalize with a horseback-riding and trekking adventure.

Our six participants are among 36 students chosen from Duke University and the University of North Carolina to participate in the Robertson Scholars Program.  The program is funded by a gift to the universities from Julian and Josie Robertson. By providing exceptional students with the combined resources of Duke University and the University of North Carolina, the program helps young leaders acquire the tools they need to transform themselves and change the world. 

Valerie Manoukian - Experiment Argentina

return to top

Federation EIL names new representatives to the UN in New York, Geneva and Vienna

Since 1978, Federation EIL has enjoyed Special Consultative Status with ECOSOC – the United Nations Economic and Social Council.  ECOSOC provided the first avenue by which non-governmental organizations (NGOs) took a role in formal UN deliberations.  41 NGOs were granted consultative status by the council in 1956; by 1992 more than 700 NGOs had attained consultative status and the number has been steadily increasing ever since to 3,052 organizations today.

As a non-governmental organization in special consultative status, Federation EIL has the opportunity to attend relevant international conferences convened by the United Nations.  We also help disseminate information about issues on the UN’s agenda and the work of the Organization.  In order to enhance our presence at the UN we have recently named Connie Crosson to be our official representative in New York City and Cordula Kleidt to represent us in Geneva and Vienna.  

Connie is a graduate of SIT 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. 

Cordula was a CBYX scholar with Experiment/CIEE in Guymon, Oklahoma.  After her return she became actively involved with Experiment Germany and has been a volunteer ever since.  She studied North America Studies, Political Science and Theology at the University of Bonn and was a Teaching Assistant for German at Ripon College in Wisconsin in 1999/2000. In March 2005, after finishing her studies at the University of Bonn, she started working for the German Bundestag where she is now office director for a member of parliament. Cordula has been an active member of the board of directors of the German Experiment since April 2005.

One of the key United Nations events is the annual DPI/NGO Conference that takes place on the eve of the opening of the General Assembly.   The 61st annual conference “Reaffirming Human Rights for All:  The Universal Declaration at 60” will take place September 3-5, 2008 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France.  This is the first time the conference will take place outside of New York City.  More than 200 international NGO representatives and other civil society partners are expected to gather in Paris to discuss ways and means for strengthening collaboration between local communities and global institutions.

Federation EIL may have up to 3 representatives at the conference.  Anyone interested in attending should contact Ilene Todd at

Back to top

Experiment Germany and World Learning Collaborate on 'Windows' Program

Windows on America is a new initiative by the U.S. embassy in Germany to provide opportunities for minority students, who have been traditionally underrepresented in exchange programs between the two nations, to travel to the United States. While on this trip the students are exposed to all aspects of American culture, school, and life by staying with American host families, touring American high schools and also doing some sightseeing. Students meet with representatives of different American institutions including local government, school administration, religious institutions, and community groups. Engeline, Bettina, Maya with German Ambassador

The program is organized by Experiment Germany in collaboration with World Learning and it is funded primarily through donations and contributions from corporations, foundations, and private sponsors. This is the reason why Engeline Kramer (president of EIL Germany), Bettina Wiedmann and Maja Lutterbei were part of the first group of official visitors to the U.S. Embassy’s new building on Pariser Platz on Wednesday, May 28 in Berlin for the “Windows on America” press conference (the official opening day is July 4th). Around 25 journalists were on hand for the occasion. When they asked the students what they liked best, all of them unanimously said that the homestay was the best part of the program which shows that Experiment programs are as up-to-date today as they have been 75 years ago.  All in all, there will be five groups of students this year which will all be handled by Experiment Germany and World Learning.   Pictured are Engeline Kramer, Bettina Wiedmann and Maya Lutterbei of Experiment Germany with William R. Timken Jr., US ambassador to Germany.

return to top

EIL Ireland Volunteers Launch "Take 5" Campaign

Returned Irish VIP volunteers are launching a campaign to raise awareness in Ireland about the global issues of poverty, racism and HIV and Aids. Thousands of small eye catching brochures will be distributed in cafes, youth centrTake 5 Projectes and places of work asking people to take just  5 minutes to think about these global challenges. People are initially invited to take small steps to inform themselves - just 5 minutes to read the brochure over a cup of coffee. And if people can give more time they are encouraged to campaign about these issues in Ireland or to become volunteers in worthwhile projects abroad. The brochure is supplemented by a special web site - click here to visit the Take 5 site.

The project is co-ordinated by Laura Spring who is the Development Education Co-ordinator with EIL and herself a former VIP volunteer in Ecuador. This is just one activity which former volunteers are involved in through EIL Ireland.  According to Laura: "Our volunteers work and live alongside local people in local communities in some of the most deprived areas in the world. It is in response to their experiences that the development education programme was set up. On their return to Ireland we ask our volunteers to be the voice for the stories of the people they worked with and to highlight their experience of poverty and inequality. Then together we campaign to make a difference by promoting global justice, human rights, fair trade, debt relief and greater equality and respect among the peoples of the world. Our goal is to see global justice and equality reach the top of the Irish agenda".

The project has been funded by Trocaire the official overseas development agency of The Catholic Church in Ireland.

Back to top

Experiment reunion after 60 years

After the end of World War II, Donald B. Watt was committed to re-establishing a positive relationship between the former enemies United States and Germany.  One step he took towards this goal was contacting a German who had been on an Experiment program in the U.S. before the war to discuss the possibility of organizing a project led by American and German students. This is how in 1948, a group of American Experimenters came to Germany, and together with their German counterparts, re-built a women's dormitory at the University of Munich which had been destroyed in the war.

Engeline Kramer with Professor WensingerOn May 27, 2008, ten American and German participants from this 1948 group reunited in Munich to celebrate the 60th anniversary of their first encounter. This celebration was part of a larger observance at the student services for the universities in Munich where around 200 representatives from trade and industry, the federal, state and local governments, the cultural field, and society came together to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the death of Mr. James Loeb, the Jewish philanthropist who, in the early 1930's, designed and built the dormitory in honour of his wife, Marie Antonie.  The Marie-Antonie-Haus is very much in use today. Click here for more information.

Professor Arthur S. Wensinger (Wesleyan University, CT, USA), one of the Experimenters from 1948, has turned his memories of the project into a DVD, which was shown to the audience as part of the celebration.  Engeline Kramer, president of EIL Germany, had the pleasure of addressing the guests and took the opportunity to inform the audience about EIL’s mission. Everyone agreed that nowadays, this mission is just as valid as it was back then: We have to look beyond nationalities, skin colour and religion and see the human being for what it is - just that, a human being that deserves respect. Pictured from left are Dr. Hansgeorg Seebauer, one of the German participants, Engeline Kramer, and Professor Wensinger.

Bettina Wiedmann - Experiment Germany

return to top

A Volunteer Story from Turkey

Paul Treacy from Washinton, DC participated in the Volunteers for International Partnership program to Turkey. He worked in the Women’s Coordination Center in Istanbul last January for three weeks. His commentary can also be read on the VIP site along with other 'Notes from the Field'.

I spent three weeks working at Kadin Koordinasyon Merkezi (KKM) (Women's Coordination Center) in Istanbul.  At this office, they provided many forms of support to local women who were in need.  During my time at KKM, I rotated on a daily basis through three different functions.  Half of my time I spent in their textile workshop, where I ironed and did some easy sewing.  I had never sat at a sewing machine in my life, but my coworkers showed me how.  The other half of the time, I sorted clothing donations and helped create house-wares (like picture frames) that local women could use.  I liked the fact that I did different jobs throughout--it made each day different.

I wanted an assignment that would make me feel like I made a difference and genuinely contributed, despite only being available for 3 weeks.  KKM *definitely* succeeded.  I worked 7 hours a day and could see the difference I made.  My coworkers gave me relatively easy tasks so they could focus on the harder work.  It was very, very fulfilling to know I made a difference.

The KKM facility was terrific.  they had a shuttle that would drive me from the Asian side of the city (where I lived) to the office on the European side.  They also had a large kitchen and a cooking staff--we all got a free, hot lunch every day (delicious Turkish food!).  There were two breaks during the workday.  My colleagues would get hot tea from the kitchen, and we all took turns bringing in sweets. 

I didn't speak any Turkish, and my colleagues didn't speak any English.  But we still were able to communicate and we laughed every day.  These people were incredibly welcoming and giving.  They gave me some beautiful gifts as I left.  They also invited me to a couple of events outside of work, but I was unable to go. I was very, very sad to leave them--everyone at this facility went out of their way to be nice to me.  I would highly, enthusiastically recommend working at KKM to anyone else.

Paul Treacy

return to top

Joseph Sebarenzi is Keynote Speaker at SIT Graduation

Joseph SebarenziJoseph Sebarenzi, former head of the Rwandan Parliament, gave the keynote address at the SIT graduation ceremonies in early June. Sebarenzi, an SIT alumnus, teaches conflict resolution at the SIT Graduate Institute. He has also been an executive for national and international nonprofit organizations and a regular speaker on BBC and Voice of America. "The challenges of the future are not insurmountable", he told the students. "The wisdom beyond gender, race and culture will create a peaceful world with acceptance and standing up for what is right."

"It could take years or even centuries, but it is worth the price", Sebarenzi said, speaking from personal experience when he led efforts to democratize and strengthen the power of the legislative branch as speaker of the Rwandan Parliament. Click on the link below to read more about the SIT Graduation and the commencement address.

EIL Ireland's Travel Award Winners EIL Ireland Travel Award Winners


Pictured at right are EIL Ireland Travel Award winners to Ecuador, Argentina, USA (Vermont Governor's Institute at SIT), South Africa, Japan and Mexico at their pre-departure workshop in the EIL offices in Cork on June 20th.




Update from Canada Newborn Riley Sangster


A warm welcome to the newest experimenter born on May 11. Riley Gordon Kenneth Sangster is the son of Jessica Sangster, and grandson of Gail Sangster of FRIENDS Canada. He is now 9 lbs 4 oz - 6 weeks old. Mother and son are doing fine, and according to Gail, "Grandma is enjoying every minute."

Links of Interest:

•The TESOL ICIS Newsletter features an article by Alvino Fantini on intercultural competence (based on the FEIL Research done last year). At the end of the article, you will find links to the FEIL and World Learning websites. This Newsletter goes out internationally to members around the world.

•WYSETC Research and Publications: Download their latest reports - New Horizons II:A 2007 global study of young travellers and Climate Change & Youth Travel resource guide.

•Click here to go to a website that has a whole library of forms and documents that have been created by US colleges and universities for use by Study Abroad Offices. Of course they are not only useful for Study Abroad programs and you are free to use any of these materials.  The forms posted on safety and emergency preparations are particularly helpful.

•More than 2000 international NGO representatives and other civil society partners will gather at UNESCO headquarters in Paris to discuss ways and means for strengthening collaboration between local communties and global institutions. They will meet during the 61st annual DPI/NGO Conference from 3-5 September 2008. Click here to read the entire press release with more information on the meeting and conference and to find a link to read the Universal Declaration.

Other links:

return to top

Federation EIL News