In the Loop

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

Dear Experiment Friends,South Africa Logo

SASTS, our partner in Cape Town, South Africa is in the forefront of FEIL news with both a report on the Partner Educational Program which took place in late January and early February, and the upcoming General Assembly meeting. Our colleagues at SASTS are busy preparing to host the event under the leadership of their new director, Alex Bleach and former director, now board member, Rashid Toefy. There will be updates going out soon to Federation members as well as to observer organizations who will be attending from Mexico, India, Singapore, Korea, the US, Iceland and China.

New and old programs are featured in this issue: Elderhostel's programs with EIL Germany have a twenty year history and growing numbers, and EIL Ireland is launching a new group volunteer program in Latin America. World Learning kicks off a three part discussion series on citizen diplomacy with Mary Robinson as featured speaker. An Academic Year Abroad student from Ghana writes a compelling account of her time away from home, the Wallace Scholarship is awarded to a deserving and qualified applicant, and a volunteer program is launched in Germany. There are also updates from our global network, links to publications and websites of interest, and the results of EIL Germany's photo contest in honor of the 75th anniversary.

As always, we welcome your comments and your suggestions for future issues and we look forward to seeing many of you in Cape Town. Enjoy the newsletter!

Ilene Todd and Elaine Stiles

Federation EIL International Office

In This Issue

arrow Historical Feature: FEIL Mission Statement is ten years old
arrow Partner Educational - Cape Town, South Africa
arrow Elderhostel Program spans over 20 years at Experiment Germany
arrow New Group Programme Initiative at EIL Ireland
arrow Academic Year Program - Creating Memories for a Lifetime
arrow International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
arrow Mary Robinson speaks at the kick off of World Learning's Citizen Diplomacy Series
arrow Wallace Scholarship Winner Announced
arrow Volunteer Program Launched
arrow Photo contest winners
arrow Updates from around the globe
arrow Links of interest

Historical Highlight: May 1998 - Monterey California

One of the outcomes of the 1998 General Assembly meeting in Monterey California was a new Mission Statement which remains in place as a guide for Federation members individually and for the Federation as a whole. At the upcoming meeting in South Africa, delegates will rely on the mission statement - perhaps most notably in terms of 'seeking to respond to a constantly changing world' - while exploring concepts such as long term sustainability and development, and the evolving world of international programs and intercultural exchanges. Below is the statement crafted in 1998.

Whereas members aim to bring together people of different cultures, ages, and backgrounds for distinctive educational opportunities that encourage a more diverse participation; and whereas members seek to reduce the likelihood of intercultural conflicts; and whereas members commit to maintain and assure the highest principles and standards in all their activities; and whereas members seek to respond to a constantly changing world;

The mission of the Federation EIL is to facilitate its member organizations in the lifelong involvement of individuals in intercultural learning experiences.  This process helps develop understanding of and respect for people throughout the world.

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A Report on the Partner Educational Programme in Cape Town

Welkom in Kaapstad – Welcome to Cape Town - the bilingual sign greets us on the way from the airport to the city. Group in the Kayamandi Township Us – that is Margareth from EIL Brazil, Anton from EIL Ireland, Rachid from EIL Morokko and Angela from EIL Germany – an international Federation EIL group that gathered from Jan 27 until Feb 4 in South Africa - a country where none of us had ever been before. SASTS, the South African Student Travel Service and South African Experiment member, had invited us to the annual PARTNERS EDUCATIONAL week to get to know the staff better, learn about the country, and experience in person the projects and schools that our participants chose for their volunteer program or AYP.

Read all about the programme and see more photos


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Elderhostel Programs Flourish at Experiment Germany by Maja Lutterbei

Elderhostel has been a precious program for Experiment in Germany for a number of years. We started organizing programs for Elderhostel in 1984. At that time the programs were very different from today’s programs as Germany was still divided. This was an important subject for all programs, especially for the one in Berlin which was then titled “Living at a Borderline”. The program themes changed a lot after the reunification of Germany and led to a broader variety of programs that also can take place in the former eastern part of Germany, such as the current program called the “German Classics”.

Quite possibly the most successful program over the years has been “Discovering German roots”. With this program Americans have the chance to find out more about their ancestors who once left Germany for a new life in the U.S. and to learn about genealogy and how to do research about their family crests.

The development of Elderhostel programs in recent years is also very interesting to observe. Three years ago, in 2004, we had a year with no Elderhostel programs at all. It was still too soon after the attacks of September 11th and the overall enrollment for international Elderhostel programs was low. The numbers then grew steadily resulting in 3 programs per year in 2005 and 2006. This year we had 8 programs running, which already was a record. In 2008 we expect up to 16 programs - most of them already showing high enrollment numbers considering this time of the year.

Among these 16 programs are not only our “normal” Elderhostel programs but also quite a few highlights, like two intergenerational programs for Elderhostelers travelling with their grandchildren to explore Berlin and Hamburg, Germany’s biggest cities. Moreover, there is an extension to the German roots program that takes place in the South of Germany. Another specialty is the extension to the Berlin program, which offers a homestay in Germany. Homestays are generally difficult to market and advertise to Elderhostelers, but knowing that the participants really love this part of the program once they took part in one, we asked a former participant of an Elderhostel-Experiment-homestay program (German roots in 1996) to send us a short report so that others may become familiar with what this experience can be like. Click here to read the report. To read more about Elderhostel programs, visit their website:

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New group programme initiative at EIL Ireland

Ireland Group Programme BrochureEIL Ireland has adopted three volunteer projects in Latin America as part of its new VIP group programme initiative. The projects involve children living in poverty in Santa Fe Argentina, an island inhabited by indigenous people in Oaxaca Mexico, and a village in the rain-forests of Ecuador where the traditional way of life is under threat. Each of these communities has embarked on a plan to improve the living standards of their people through the development of eco-tourism projects, food kitchens, IT classes, the development of library facilities and so on. EIL Ireland is committed to sending repeat groups of 8 - 10 volunteers to each of these projects over the next 3 years to help the communities realise their plans. The objective is to work in partnership with the local people to achieve long term sustainable improvements to the way of life of the people in each of these communities. Several months in preparation, EIL Ireland will launch these projects on a pilot basis in the coming weeks and it is expected to be 2009 before they become fully operational. The new Group Programme brochure is pictured above. To view it in its entirety, click on the brocure above to download the file as a PDF(11MB). You may also visit their website at to learn more.

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Academic Year Program

"My expectations as an African girl before I came to Germany, were not so different from those of students who - Wendy and her host familylike me - wanted to participate in this beneficial educational program. I was not scared of the very cold weather which is of a very big contrast to that of my homeland Ghana. Instead, it was the language, German. I was - however - undaunted...."

Wendy Kyere is one of the scholarship recipients for the Academic Year Program in Germany. She went to Germany with no knowledge of the language and with some stereotypes in her mind. She has written an article about her journey to learn the language, eliminate the stereotypes, and share her culture with her new family and friends.

Read the entire article and see a photo of Wendy in the senior choir......

"IYEP Ghana and Experiment Germany are happy to have such a wonderful participant and hope that her experience will be the first of a series of experiences for other EIL offices that start sending students abroad on an Academic Year Program."

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From the Secretary General of the United Nations - New York, 21 March 2008

UN LogoBy proclaiming March 21st as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the General Assembly urged action to honour of the memory of the scores of peaceful protestors who were massacred on this day in 1960 in the South African township of Sharpeville as they demonstrated against the racist apartheid “pass laws.” There has been significant progress since then, not least through the dismantling of the apartheid system. But racism continues to plague too many individuals, communities and societies the world over.

This year, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination offers an opportunity to address the problem globally as we prepare for the 2009 review of actions taken since the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance adopted its Declaration and Programme of Action in 2001. Racial discrimination is a concern to all peoples and countries. This review process is an opportunity to engage in an inclusive and transparent manner on an issue that demands our urgent and close attention.

I call on all countries and civil society to make constructive use of the time between now and the formal Review process to work out their differences so that we can seize this opening to boost our collective efforts to stamp out racism. This issue is too important; we cannot fail.

Preparations for the conference will coincide with our observance this year of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which starts by affirming the equality of all people and calling for all to “act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” Not only Governments but also communities and individuals bear solemn responsibility for realizing this goal.

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination serves to spotlight our collective responsibility to end racism. By acting on the ideals of the Universal Declaration, we can uplift not only those suffering from racial discrimination but humanity as a whole.

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World Learning's Citizen Diplomacy Series features Mary Robinson

Carol Bellamy, President and CEO of World Learning, introduced Mary Robinson as the featured speaker of World Learning's citizen diplomacy panel on March 14. The event, held at Georgetown University, was the first in a three-part discussion series co-sponsored by Georgetown's Mortara Center of International Studies and the Aspen Institute. Addressing an audience of some 300 students, activists, development professionals and others, Mary Robinson spoke about the intersection of citizen diplomacy and human rights based on her experiences as President of Ireland (1990-1997), UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and, most recently, as member of the distinguished set of global diplomats known as The Elders. Read more at the World Learning website

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Wallace Scholarship Winner Announced

The selection committee for the 2008 Wallace Memorial Scholarship is pleased to announce the selection of Michelle Healy from Ireland as this year's scholarship recipient. Michelle will spend 6 months as a teacher's assistant in a rural elementary school near the tropical town of Puerto Rico, Ecuador. She is currently completing a programme with United Nations Volunteers, working in the regional UNICEF office in Nairobi, Kenya as an HIV Prevention Officer. She has also volunteered in Belarus with an orphanage project, which has inspired her pursuit of a masters degree in human rights law. She has volunteered throughout her school years and has traveled extensively in Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and Africa while studying and volunteering.

Michelle brings a high level of interest and commitment to children's rights, education and human rights, as well as a strong interest in learning about the culture, language, and people of Latin America. "I understand how education systems in under-developed areas can impact ... a child's future potential, and how important primary education is on a person's life. I understand that it is a small school (in rural Ecuador), with limited resources and in my mind I see this as an opportunity ... to make an impact." This is the third year of the Wallace Scholarship which was initiated in 2006 in memory of Jack Wallace, former Secretary General of Federation EIL and founder of the School for International Training (now the SIT Graduate Institute of World Learning). The first scholarship was provided by EIL Argentina, followed by EIL Chile and now by EIL Ecuador. We hope that this excellent program will continue and encourage other Federation members to step forward and sponsor the scholarship in 2009 and beyond.

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Experiment Germany and 10 VIP partners go „WELTWAERTS“ by Manja Fleischer

Over a year ago, Experiment Germany heard of a new initiative by the German Ministry on Economic Cooperation and Development. A new Young Development Volunteers Service called “weltwaerts” (German for “world-ward”) was about to be launched. The plan is to send more than 10,000 volunteers abroad over the next few years with the financial help of the German government. Over 100 organisations have applied for acceptance as 'weltwärts' sending organisations and Experiment Germany was one of the first to be recognized as such. This was mainly due to the already existing volunteer network “Volunteers for International Partnership” (VIP) and because of the high quality volunteer programs offered.

Bettina Wiedmann at the press conference in BerlinThe program was officially launched on January 17th at a press conference in Berlin where the first participants were also seen off by German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul. Bettina Wiedmann (Experiment Germany) attended as a representative of the German sending organizations and among the participants were three volunteers from Experiment Germany that departed for Ecuador in March. "With your decision to work for 'weltwärts' you contribute to making the world a somewhat more just place. The positive experience you will gather when working together with the people will always stay in your mind," the minister told the young volunteers. Pictured above are front left Anke Hoffman, a volunteer to Ecuador, the German Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, another volunteer to Ecuador, the Ambassador of Ruanda, and Bettina Wiedmann at the press conference.

During the next couple of weeks, weltwaerts participants will leave for their Volunteer Programs in Argentina (EIL), Chile (EIL), Ecuador (EIL), Guatemala (INLEX), Thailand (Greenway) and Turkey (EIL). At the moment, we are working on project applications with Ghana (IYEP), Mexico (PEI), Nigeria (SYTO) and South Africa (SASTS) and once we have resolved certain visa issues, other VIP countries will follow. All in all, Experiment Germany is planning on sending approximately 60 to 70 volunteers abroad this year and will increase the number of participants in 2009 and beyond.
We want to thank all of our VIP partner organizations for their patience with German bureaucracy and for the wonderful cooperation!

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Photo Contest Winners

In the last issue of In the Loop, Experiment Germany announced a photography competition among all of their (former) volunteers to honor the 75th anniversary. The slogan was “My project” and they received about 80 great pictures from participants. See the three winners.

Updates from around the globe

Alex BleachSouth Africa - Introducing Alex Bleach, new SASTS director, who took the helm of the organization on March 1.


Tibet Toros ZaraCongratulations to Zeynep Toros, EIL Turkey director, and her family on the birth of Tibet Toros Zara pictured here at 34 days old.

Links of Interest:

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.

Other links:

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