The World Youth and Student Travel Conference (WYSTC) was held in Brooklyn, New York September 13 - 17. According to conference organizers, 2008 saw the largest turnout in the history of WYSTC with 850 + delegates representing 474 organizations from 81 countries. Included in that impressive number were representatives from Experiment e.V. (Bettina Wiedmann and Sabine Stedtfeld), Experimento Brasil (Betty Woodyatt and Roberto Caldiera), SASTS (Alex Bleach), YES International (Jinsu Yom and Regis Colin) and the Federation EIL International Office (Ilene Todd). Representatives participated in a full day of seminars, special sector meetings and two days of business meetings with organizations from around the world.
WYSTC provided an excellent opportunity to learn what other organizations are doing and to seek out new partners for various programs. It was also a chance to visit informally with friends from GA 2008, Ninad and Vinita Sharma, Jessie Duanmu and Deborah Friedman who also joined us for a group dinner at a restaurant in the heart of Brooklyn. Unfortunately our colleagues from Experimento Brasil were not able to be with us at dinner but we had other opportunities to catch up with them.
Even if you could not attend, you can learn about the trends and new developments in the field of youth travel and international exchange by checking out the videos at http://www.wystc.org/Docs/2008/05_Media/Video_Page_OnDemand.php4 Two particularly informative sessions that have implications for everyone, were the Keynote Address - "Key Trends, Challenges and Choices Shaping the Young Traveller of the Future" by Futurist, Rohit Talwar and "Social Media & Social Networks are Transforming Your Business". You can also see the Federation EIL booth at the end of the short video "WYSTC Trade Hall".
WYSTC 2009 will be in Manchester, UK September 21-25. We hope many Federation members will plan to attend so that we can continue our efforts to raise our profile and promote the high quality of EIL programs. Pictured above are Sabine Stedtfeld (left) and Jessie Duanmu in the FEIL booth at the conference. Pictured left at dinner in Brooklyn, from left: Jinsu Yom, Ilene Todd, Bettina Wiedmann, Deborah Friedman, Jessie Duanmu, Regis Colin, Vinita Sharma, Ninad Sharma, Sabine Stedtfeld, and Alex Bleach.
More than 2000 participants from all over the world came together at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris from September 3rd to 5th for the 61st Annual DPI NGO Conference. Among these 2000 participants were three representatives of Federation EIL: Chantal Mayer (AIPC Pandora, Spain), Mairead O'Reilly (EIL Intercultural Learning Ireland) and Tom Kurz (Experiment Germany). In panel discussions, workshops and mid-term sessions the participants discussed issues concerning human rights and their implementation, threats against and violations of human rights as well as best practice examples and ways and means to further implement human rights.
Former and current UNESCO officials, directors of major human rights organizations, specialists, researchers and former politically imprisoned talked about major themes such as “Human Rights and Security” and “Human Rights Education and Learning” during panels. Workshop followed each panel in order to deepen discussion and share good practices.
All members stressed the importance of the role of NGOs in implementing human rights on a national and international level. Most governments are not able to control human rights violations. NGOs, therefore, play a vital role in educating and informing the public about human rights, supervise and control governments and denounce unrespect for human rights.
The conference closed with stunning speeches by 90 year old Stephan Hessel (long term ambassador to the UN for France) and Ingrid Betancourt, whose speech was live streamed from UN headquarters in New York. Both stressed, once again, the importance of the work of the NGOs in denouncing the lack of justice in many countries of the world and their hard work in making the world a freer place for everyone.
During the conference it became clear that, although Federation EIL is not a major player in the field of human rights, there is still so much we can do. The conference gave great examples of how the Federation could do more to foster human rights around the globe: implementing human rights education into our orientation seminars, informing our participants and partners about human rights and last but not least bringing human rights to the forefront of our VIP program! We want to create peace through understanding and respect for each other in general – goals that are of major importance for the universal declaration of human rights.
Chantal Mayer, Tom Kurz
Nobel Peace Laureates Jody Williams (1997) and Wangari Maathai (2004) were among several notable women who traveled for three weeks to countries that are directly linked to the crises in Burma and Darfur. 'We must keep up the pressure on the world's superpowers to do the right thing in Darfur and Burma - and create the conditions for long-lasting peace and democracy.'
Maathai, a member of the World Learning Board of directors, and Williams, an SIT alumna, were among the founding members of the Nobel Women's Initiative, whose mission is to work for peace with justice and equality for all. Williams and Maathai and the women’s delegation explained the goals of their trip as follows:
Read more about the mission. At the website you can also read about the The Green Belt Movement, founded by Wangari Maathai in 1977. The GBM's mission is to empower communities worldwide to protect the environment and to promote good governance and cultures of peace.
Thanks to the efforts and technical expertise of Piers Meynell at EIL Ireland, Federation EIL has stepped into the world of social networking via a non profit channel on YouTube. There are now 5 videos on our channel, and you can click on the link below to see our page and watch the videos. We have linked to the page from the FEIL website as well as from the VIP website and we encourage all Federation partners to do the same.
Since Federation EIL has its own channel on YouTube to connect EIL people worldwide online, YES International also thought of creating a YouTube channel of its own! Thanks to Piers Meynell, who also helped the Federation establish a presence on YouTube, we now have our own page, with videos that introduce our exchange student program’s pre-departure orientation sessions. Just for now, there are about 10 video posts. Go to http://www.youtube.co.kr/yesintl to check out our exchange students participating in Global Academy programs preparing their departure to the world abroad!
What was once a single room office, with four employees and cramped computers and desks, has grown into a full fledged office! At the end of August, YES International made the move into a new office suite, complete with 9 desks, a counseling area and a conference room. While still a little bit under construction, we have finally made great progress in the last week and by putting an air-conditioner in the office we also got out of the hot 30-32 degrees temperature in mid-summer weather in Korea! We hope to have all of our international partners come to visit our cozy and shiny office someday! If you’re ever in Korea, especially in Mapo Seoul area, feel free to stop by! Our staff is pictured above.
Ellen Collins Brouillette, Experimenter to Germany in 1957, recently returned to her host country as she continues her long relationship with her host family. Having taken trips to Germany over the years, as well as receiving host family members and their children to her home, she wanted to celebrate the 50th anniversary of her original homestay experience by meeting with members of her German group and host family in Munich.
Ellen wrote to us about the reunion, and about her original trip in a letter from which the following is quoted:
"...This exchange trip in 1957 was truly one of the best experiences of my life, and quite an adventure for me who had never been too far from home. (I) found myself on a ship with 800 students all going to different homes and places...My family was outstanding. I remained in touch with them over all these years, and (they) have been to my home at least 4 times, and I to theirs as well. I cannot say enough about the Experiment. I have treasured this wonderful experience over the years, and this fall one of my German group members comes for 10 days with his wife and a friend....and so it continues!!"
Pictured above is Ellen (second from left) with her group on board the SS Waterman on the way to Europe in 1957. The picture at right was taken in Munich in October 2007 during her 50th reunion trip. From left, Ellen Brouillette, Jochen Frieling (German group member), Anne Lohmann Grimmelman ( host sister), and Gerd Nagel (German group member).
This summer Experiment Germany went East with a number of new programs. For years it has been the goal to establish connections with new organizations in Eastern Europe - and with programs in Russia, Ukraine and a new connection to Uzbekistan and Croatia we have got a lot closer to reaching this goal.
In the beginning of July a group of 13 Germans took a long trip from Frankfurt through Moscow to Irkutsk in Siberia where they were welcomed by three volunteer staff members of our partner organization The Great Baikal Trail www.greatbaikaltrail.org. For eight years GBT has built a net of hiking paths along Lake Baikal. With the help of volunteers from all over the world more than 500 kilometres have already been built. After a short stop in Irkutsk a three hour bus ride to Bolshoe Goloustnoe followed. The small town with its 700 inhabitants lies on the shores of Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest and oldest lake. During the following days a trail to sacred mountains just outside of the village was built by the participants who all stayed with host families. The daily work was combined with introductions to local buratian culture (songs, religion, and myths), hikes along the lake and free time (including swimming in the 9° C cold lake and enjoying the “banja”). After twelve days and a big farewell dinner with all host families it was time to say good bye. We are looking forward to some future cooperation with GBT and will see what the future brings.
July also saw the first program Experiment Germany has conducted with an organization in the Ukraine. In cooperation with LOLIT of Ukraine, artists from Germany, Poland and the Ukraine joined with local children in Drohobych. Drohobych was the hometown of Bruno Schulz, a critic, writer and painter who was assassinated by German authorities during the World War II. During the project the artists held painting workshops with the children of the western Ukraine town and also painted a wall in remembrance of Bruno Schulz.
As you can see, Experiment Germany went East, in every sense of the word. And what would intercultural exchange be without us also welcoming participants from Eastern countries to Germany? According to our philosophy “Living together – Learning together” there are now also participants from Usbekistan and Croatia spending a school year in German host families. Due to her excellent application and her family´s financial need, one Croatian girl was even rewarded a full scholarship, and we are certain that she will prove to be a worthy participant.
We are now more than anxious to welcome our first two Mongolian students to their high school year in Germany starting in January 2009 and we are sure to learn many new things through them as well!Claudia Böffgen and Tom Kurz, Experiment Germany
A Volunteer’s Experience in Morocco
Martin Kuehn from Germany participated in the Volunteers for International Partnership Program in Morocco from March 23rd till June 23rd, 2008 in an environmental project. After one week of orientation and 4 weeks of Arabic classes in Rabat, Martin joined his host organisation in one of the most beautiful Northern cities in the country, Chefchaouen. He worked with his host organisation in different projects that aim to raise environmental awareness of the host community about the climate change and global warming. His story can be found at Thaqafat’s website.
International Volunteer Day Celebration 2008
Thaqafat Association is pleased to announce its preparation to celebrate the International Volunteer Day (IVD) for the current year 2008. Thaqafat’s main objectives are primarily raising the awareness of the importance of volunteerism on the National and International level, discussing the different ways to promote Volunteer programs in Morocco, and meeting with NGO’s members, Volunteers, host family members, and language instructors for the development of The Volunteers for International Partnership (VIP) program.
Summer Abroad 2008
From July 1st till 31st, Thaqafat Association coordinated the EIL Summer Abroad program for the US Experiment. Thaqafat hosted 2 groups, with 12 participants and 2 leaders in each group. The students participated in language courses, excursions, artistic exhibitions, and community service projects. One group is pictured at right at their service project.
One of the fascinating things in the Federation EIL is the variety of programs and countries we offer. Not only is each country singular in carrying out its programs, but the structure of each partner organization is much diversified and made to fit the local demands, the infrastructure and mentality of its people. Despite being a Brazilian citizen myself I had much to learn visiting Experimento do Brasil.
After 2 days in the administrative center of the country and of Experimento, I returned to the international Airport of Sao Paulo to start my journey nearly 800 km south to visit the two Organisations that host VIP Participants in Florianópolis. Right upon arrival, Raul Freitas, our local coordinator from Experimento invited me to attend a very significant meeting: A Recognition of 10 Years of Volunteering in Santa Catarina. The ceremony was held in the Santa Catarina Parliament with TV Journalists as speakers and many prominent local politicians.
Fundacao Vidal Ramos / Sociedade Alfa Gente
Both projects that I visited in Florianópolis support children at risk from 3 to 12 years of age. The aim of the projects is to offer pedagogic assistance and a wide variety of support services before and after school. This also includes giving them a meal or helping the parents or teenagers to solve bureaucratic issues. Though they formally help the children in subjects like science, math, languages, geography, etc they mostly try to fill in the gap left from absent parents or parents suffering from addictions who cannot provide their children with support and security at home. Children in these projects need to learn basic principles of hygiene, self-esteem, and communication skills and especially to gain perspective for a career and eventually to leave the slums.
I spent most of the time in Florianópolis visiting the projects and trying to understand how things work there, from food and material donation to staff recruiting - hearing often how difficult it is to find adequate pedagogical staff to work for a minimal salary in a community at risk. Many end up leaving the project for better-paid jobs with less emotional stress and in safer areas. Continuity is a big issue there. Our VIP participants in Florianópolis are all well remembered in the projects and the contribution they made was significant: donating your time to train/help others can be much more meaningful than donating money in some cases.
Projects in the North: Casa do Menor Trabalhador / Casa Brasil em Guarapes
Back to the Airport now for the 4th time, I caught a plane to Natal, which is the capital city of Rio Grande do Norte, an amazingly beautiful coastal city. Natal is also the second safest capital city in Brazil, so we can feel reassured in sending our volunteers and high school students there.
The trip to Natal had an “all-around” effect for me as a program manager. I got to meet our high school participant who had just arrived a week before, and saw the school and how things are done in that area. I also saw the projects we have for VIP and accompanied the Summer Abroad group from the USA at their closure day after a 4-week-stay in Natal. It was an amazing experience.
The project in Guarapes requires a lot of strength from the volunteers, as the situation there seems almost hopeless. They need everything! They need books, storage room for materials, a kitchen, first aid training, teachers, social workers, sport areas, sport equipment, better Internet connection and loads of other things. The enthusiasm of those in charge though could make you believe everything will be achieved in a wink of an eye. Guarapes is a remote poor area of Natal and the project aim is identical to the ones in the south. Whereas drug /alcohol abuse plays a major role in the community at risk in the south, in the north they have more teenage pregnancy and lack of infrastructure endangering the youth development there.
Casa do Menor Trabalhador This project is in the central area of Natal. It counts on far more developed infrastructure as they care for almost 600 children. They are a school in itself but do all the support work around the pupils that a regular institution could not provide. They also provide vocational training to the older students. The project has its own bakery – which is not only a vocational training workshop but at the same time produces all the bread the children need in the project. They also have a good program for computer literacy. EIL Brazil will be concentrating almost its entire incoming sector in Natal in the future so it is important to know and understand the place where our participants will be spending many months.I would like to thank Betty and Patricia from Experimento Brazil for taking time and making it possible that I see everything in depth. Special thanks also to Semio and Samar Timene who run the Experimento Natal for their hospitality and enthusiasm.
Ana Klaehn, Experiment Germany
ADIA Program in Chile - EIL Chile and EIL Germany have been very successful in recruiting young Germans to do their Civil Service in Chile. A group of 11 German volunteers stayed in Santiago city for three weeks to study Spanish and receive in country Orientation before departing to their host community. They are now working on different projects in the host community. Many of them have found the experience as very rewarding so far and are very happy with the homestays and volunteer work. We would also like to thank EIL Germany for the first two ADIA participants who have successfully finished their service in Chile and are on their way back home.
VIP Program - EIL Chile is more than happy for the new applications received from non traditional VIP sender countries for us, such as: USA, UK, Brazil and China. Diversity in volunteers’ nationalities is increasing, a very good sign. Lala, one of our volunteers from Brazil, has just finished her program working for a bicultural indigenous school in South Chile. A great example of enthusiasm, initiative and hard work that helped her achieve her goal to establish a school library. Congratulations!
BRIDGES Program in La Pintana - We would like to invite all Federation countries to join us in this new effort to contribute to growth in equity. It is a great opportunity to get to know one of the most socially discriminated neighborhoods in Santiago city where there is a lot of creativity, enthusiasm, good people and the urgent need to build bridges to narrow the social and economic gap to develop access to better opportunities. EIL Chile and La Pintana city hall have signed an agreement of mutual cooperation to develop volunteer opportunities in education, environment, recreation and health. This is great opportunity for volunteers who want to know a social reality present in most South American countries. Federation countries are more than welcome to request more information on this new EIL Chile initiative.
High School Group Exchange to New Zealand - Our first high school group program to New Zealand has been confirmed to depart in Jan 2009. The demand for NZ as a destination is growing fast in South America. If you need any information on this program or any contacts in NZ regarding High School exchanges, both individual or group, let us know.
Spanish Language School - A wide rage of long and short term programs to study Spanish in Santiago is available on request in our EIL Chile office.
Facebook - Find friends, program discussions and participants’ stories in Eil Chile Facebook.
English Opens Doors Program. EIL Chile continues to support this nationwide initiative with our native speakers of English volunteers. Richard is our top volunteer for this semester, and our first volunteer from New Zealand, who is working as assistant teacher of English at a rural school in South Chile.
•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 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.
return to top
Federation EIL News