In the Loop

The Newsletter of Federation EIL - Worldwide Network of The Experiment in International Living -June 2011
Stay In the Loop with the Worldwide Network of The Experiment in International Living

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.

The design used as the Experiment monogram is one of the oldest symbols in the world. It has been found decorating monuments at least 5,000 years old. The unbroken loops are symbols of infinity, symbolizing the peoples of the world living together in harmony.

In This Issue

Highlights from the General Assembly 2011
Federation EIL on the MOVE!
Introducing the New Executive Board
Federation EIL Welcomes New Members
EIL UK Celebrates 75th Anniversary
New Directors in South Africa and the UK
News from Experiment Germany
International Cooperation Projects from EIL Spain
News from EIL Turkey
Homestays Highlight Summer Abroad
Field Reports from EIL Ecuador
Volunteers in Albania
Muchas Gracias from EIL Argentina
Intercultural Horizons Conference
Highlights from the General Assembly Peer Sessions
In Memoriam
Links of Interest

Highlights from the General Assembly 2011, Santiago, Chile

50 members and friends of Federation EIL, representing 20 countries, gathered at this year's General Assembly in Santiago where our hosts, EIL Chile, treated us like "royalty" (as so aptly put by John Meislin from World Learning, our US member.)

Federation EIL elected three new members at the GA, proudly welcoming: COALICIÓN MÉXICO (LAMAT and PEI) and YES International of The Republic of Korea as our newest full members; and INLEX-CA of Guatemala, as our newest associate member. (Meet our new members below.)

This year's Executive Board elections resulted in two new additions: Myriam Flor of Ecuador and Chantal Mayer of Spain who will serve as Vice-Presidents. Past VP Bettina Weidmann of Germany, boldly moves into the role of President. (Read more about our new Executive Board below.)

The theme of this year's GA was - A Worldwide Community, powered by the 5 C's: Creativity, Communication, Competency, Collaboration, Contribution. In this spirit, members and observers were invited to shape the conference by their interests and needs. Participants split into to small groups to tackle a series of topics including Social Networking, Fundraising, and Program Development. (See below for highlights from these Peer Sessions at the GA.)

Together we co-created five days of inspiration, celebration and visioning for the Federation. Our thanks to EIL Chile and to all those who so enthusiastically gathered to build stronger partnerships for the future.

Soon to come: Plans for GA 2012, highlighting The Experiment's 80th anniversary!

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Federation EIL on the MOVE!

On location in Vancouver with NAFSA:

NAFSA Director Ilene Todd represented Federation EIL in Vancouver last month, along with EIL Ireland’s Sr. Programme Manager, Aisling Meade, and a large contingent from World Learning/SIT. The annual NAFSA Conference is the world's premier networking & learning opportunity for those involved in international education. Over 9,000 people from all over the world gathered this May in Vancouver, British Columbia for the event.

Federation EIL and EIL Ireland shared a booth in the Exhibition Hall to promote the programs and services offered by the Worldwide Experiment--highlighting our experience and expertise in providing customized, short-term, high quality, intercultural programs. Dozens of new contacts were made, especially among colleges and universities. Former Experimenters, SIT graduates and others with ties to the Experiment visited our booth.

With over 10,000 members, NAFSA is the world’s largest nonprofit professional association dedicated to international education.

Next Stop--BONN

64th Annual UN Department of Public Information NGO ConferenceFederation EIL holds Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council and so is authorized to send up to 8 participants (including two youth delegates) to the upcoming 64th Annual UN Conference for NGO's. This year's dual conference themes: Sustainable Societies and Responsive Citizens, allows the host country, Germany, and NGO's world-wide to showcase the impact volunteers make on sustainable livelihoods.

Our own Experiment  e.V. of Germany has been part of the planning committee, and we look forward to sending a full delegation of Worldwide Experiment members. For more information, contact the International Office at federation(at)

September in BARCELONA

The 2011 World Youth Student Travel Conference (WYSTC) takes place in Barcelona, Spain; September 20-23.  Federation EIL and Experiment members from France, Germany, South Africa, Mexico, Guatemala, Spain and the UK will be among the expected 800 attendees from over 80 countries representing youth, student and educational travel organizations, language schools, educational institutions and related support services.

The annual WYSTC Conference offers us the opportunity to keep in touch with the latest developments in our field; to better understand our competition; and to meet with current partners and connect with new ones. 

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Introducing Federation EIL's New Executive Board

Federation EIL has always been privileged to have outstanding volunteers to serve on its Executive Board.  At the 2008 General Assembly Meeting in South Africa, Rashid Toefy (from SASTS) was elected President of the Executive Board.   Happily for Rashid, Betting Wiedmann (Experiment e.V.) and Jean Wittman (EIL Argentina) were elected at the same time to serve as Vice Presidents. 

For the next three years this venerable team provided leadership and inspiration–meeting monthly by SKYPE, making frequent calls to members, and promoting The Federation at every opportunity.  So, it was with great admiration for their extraordinary contributions that we recognized them in Chile at the conclusion of their term.   

In typical Experiment fashion, however, we do not say goodbye to these valued colleagues. Jean continues as National Director of The Language Experience, the National Office of The Experiment  in Argentina.  She is among those dedicated individuals who are truly the keepers of The Experiment flame.  In addition to everything else, Jean will be using the coming year to prepare for EIL Argentina’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2012.  Rashid will maintain his EIL ties as a member of the SASTS Board in South Africa while using his newly found “free time” to focus on family and his full-time job as CEO of the Cape Town International Convention Center. And, Bettina has already stepped up to assume her new role as our next Executive Board President. 

It is with great pleasure that we welcome our new leadership team.  They have wasted no time getting organized and setting their agenda for the coming months:

President--Bettina Wiedmann, Executive Director of Experiment e.V. (The Experiment in International Living, Germany.) Bettina first heard of The Experiment in 1991 when she was planning her own high school exchange year in the US. In 2003, she didn't think twice about leaving the government organization where she worked when she learned that Experiment Germany was looking for a program manager for group and individual programs.

As the new President of the Executive Board of Federation EIL, Bettina looks forward to continuing the process of increased communication and increased involvement and responsibility of the individual members :

"As a Federation, we can only be as strong as our members; and while we cannot help our members to find more participants, my vision is that we manage to inform our members about current trends and developments in our sector and create new programs and partnerships that benefit all sides involved."

Vice-President, Myriam Flor, Incoming Programs Director of EIL Ecuador. Myriam has been involved with EIL Ecuador since 1988 when she began providing seminars for EIL staff and Spanish language classes for SIT groups. As Incoming Programs Director, Myriam develops a wide array of programs including volunteering, GAP Year, spring break, summer abroad, etc.

As Vice-President of Federation EIL's Executive Board, Myriam would like to support members with projects that involve growth and wellbeing for the Federation and its individual members. She is especially interested in developing clear and efficient communication among members and board members and welcomes member input toward this goal.

Vice-President, Chantal Mayer, President of AIPC Pandora (Asociación para la Integración y Progreso de las Culturas, Pandora.) Chantal began her involvement with The Experiment in 2000 when she worked with the former Experiment Spain. In 2002, she founded AIPC Pandora with a group of professionals; and in 2003, AIPC joined the Federation.

Chantal has these objectives in serving on the Executive Board:

-Continue to establish a fluid communication between members during the whole year;

-Open membership to other types of organizations and countries;

-Create new programs and projects that can fit in our societies according to their current needs;

-Start doing fundraising for the Federation, identifying private and public institutions for projects that we could organize together.

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Federation EIL Welcomes New Members



Joshua Tripp of LAMAT was born in Mexico, and comes from a long line of Experimenters. His grandparents were among the first host families when the Experiment began in Mexico, and his mother served as a group leader. Josh himself was an Experimenter, and later a group leader. Josh studied International Relations and Economics at the ITAM, and speaks six languages. In 2000, he began collaborating with the Experiment in Mexico and World Learning; and in 2005, he founded LAMAT.

Cecilia Gamez was born in Mexico City, and is one of the founding members of PEI, A.C. a non-profit civil organization founded in 2006 by former Experimenters. PEI offers volunteer programs; individual homestays; and Academic Year Programs and language courses for Mexican students, among others. Cecilia herself has been a member of a host family, a group leader, and trainer/manager of  Elderhostel and Summer Abroad programs.  She currently serves as the Secretary of the Administrative Board of PEI, A.C. and is in charge of Volunteers Program Management, the supervision of Outbound Programs and the development of new programs for the organization.

YES International, Korea

Jihyun Park, Managing Director of YES (Youth Exchange Service) International, visited the International Office this May where she was presented with a Full Membership Certificate by Ilene Todd, Federation EIL Director. 

YES International was founded in 2007 in response to the need for global experiences by Korean teenagers.  Today YES International is managed by Jihyun and her husband Jinsu Yom who serves as President.    YES International is actively involved with local schools and organizations in developing educational and voluntary opportunities for youth. Various community service projects and international events are developed in collaboration with governmental organizations such as Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Matters. On a global level, YES International works with more than 40 partner organizations in 23 different countries.

Jihyun received the Bachelor of Human Development degree with a major in Social Work from Seoul Women's University and is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in International relations.  Before joining YES International she worked as Project Manager for Seoul Youth Center for Cultural Exchange. 

INLEX/CA, Guatemala

Director Carlos Columbi of INLEX/CA is pictured here with the Executive Board of Federation EIL in Santiago, Chile.

INLEX/CA (Integrated Learning Experiences, Central America) is an NGO based in Central America and is the newest associate member of Federation EIL in Guatemala. INLEX/CA offers a variety of programs for foreign nationals and local professionals as well as students, including: volunteer assignments, educational tours, Spanish training, College semester abroad, High school program, and Homestays.

Originally from Argentina, Carlos received his masters degree in international and intercultural management from the SIT Graduate Institute at World Learning. For 28 years, he worked in Peace Corps training centers throughout Latin America in the areas of cross cultural training, group management, intercultural exchanges, human resource management; and training design, implementation and evaluation.  Carlos is one of the founders of INLEX/CA and has been the director since 2005.

Weltweitblick--Experiment Switzerland

Congratulations also to Weltweitblick--Experiment Switzerland which became a Sponsored Member in 2010. Weltweitblick President, Martina Schmitz, was unable to join us at the General Assembly in Chile and so received her certificate via post. Martina is pictured here with her framed certificate in the Experiment office in Zurich.

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EIL UK Celebrates 75th Anniversary

75 year logo

Over the years EIL UK has gone from simply arranging homestay accommodation to becoming a well-established organization providing volunteering opportunities for people of all ages. EIL is also a sending and receiving organization for European Voluntary Service and other European funded programs, and a leading partner in the Intercultural Training Partnership providing intercultural training for EVS volunteers based in the UK. EIL works with partners in many countries around the world to provide life-enriching experiences for volunteers. 

On May 25th the Trustees of EIL hosted a 75th anniversary luncheon for over 60 guests - ranging from retired host families to current partners. At the lunch speeches were given by Mel Nock – the chairman of the Trustees; Mike Butler, a retired host family and local coordinator and current member of EIL and Jon Elphick, the son of Jim and Mary Elphick who helped to develop EIL into the force that it is today, opening their home and lives to hundreds of volunteers between 1956 – 1990.

News from the Changing Minds Project--EIL UK is developing a range of new programs, including a locally based initiative which brings together young British people from differing backgrounds to explore issues of culture and stereotyping.

Music has a central focus in the project with workshops on MCing, rapping, song writing and a drumming; the project also involves a short residential program with follow up sessions at a local youth center.

Participants also meet with local policy makers to express their concerns, including the local mayor and the police, who appreciate hearing from young people about the issues that affect them. Funding has been provided by the UK and the European Union's Youth in Action program.

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New Directors in South Africa and the UK

Clyde Hayward returns to SASTS, South African Student Travel Services as their new director. Clyde was previously employed at SASTS--working in all aspects of the organization--including the in-house travel desk, serving outbound travelers and inbound volunteers.

Clyde returns after a 5 year absence during which he served as a General Manager for an American travel company in their South African hub. He is very excited to be in the "Director's chair" at SAST, and he looks forward to getting to know all the Experiment partners. He is eager to develop and grow programs together, and hopes that he makes a very positive impact.

Clyde succeeds Alex Bleach who recently left SASTS, after 11 years, to take up new challenges and opportunities.  We welcome Clyde and wish Alex all the very best as she pursues these new life adventures. 

Victoria Perry will officially join the EIL UK team as Chief Executive in September 2011. She joins us from The Egypt Exploration Society, a charity with operations in Egypt and the UK, where she brokered partnerships and developed key relationships with major funders and stakeholders.

Much of her career prior to this was spent with the British Red Cross as a Fundraising Manager and latterly as an Operations Director, leading a large cross-functional team. During this time she became a trustee for Daraja UK, a charity implementing advocacy projects in Tanzania, and a member of the Foreign and Commonwealth roster to assist British citizens caught in crisis abroad. 

Victoria is passionate about intercultural understanding and conflict resolution having studied at the United World College of the Atlantic, which led to an MA in Arabic and Social Anthropology from Edinburgh University. Victoria’s first passion is travel and she has personally undertaken projects in the Philippines, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Nepal, as well as traveling independently at every opportunity. Victoria looks forward to working with EIL UK’s Board and staff team to develop a diverse funding portfolio and a strategy based on EIL’s clear strengths.

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News from Experiment Germany

The National Assembly of Experiment Germany was held in Rostock, a beautiful seaport on the Baltic Sea. About  170 members from all over Germany spent an entire weekend discussing the past, present and future of our association.

Ideas were exchanged and presented, sensitive topics were raised, solutions were determined and incredible food was enjoyed around the clock. New members of the board and the advisory board were elected in the official General Meeting. The highlight of the weekend was, of course, the one-of-a-kind party on Saturday night. Later, the experienced hotel crew revealed that they have never had a party where people of all ages danced until 5 o’clock in the morning.

We simply responded with one of our most popular guidelines: “Expect the Unexpected…”

(Pictured: Experiment e.V. Director, Bettina Wiedmann, and Mr. Werner Kuhn, Member of the European Parliament, who joined the dinner on Saturday.)

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International Cooperation Projects from EIL in Spain

During the past year, AIPC Pandora of Spain has intensified its commitment to new development and international cooperation projects. These arise from the field experience of international volunteers who participate in Micro-projects: three week programs which take place in the summer with groups of 8 to 10 participants. In this way, we identify local needs and establish the necessary structure to work on larger development projects throughout the year, while establishing the necessary funding to implement them.

Since last summer we have worked on three such projects:

  • Supporting the Albino community in Tanzania through the building of a dining /multi-use room;
  • Sponsorship of Crèches (Nursery) in Kayamandi, South Africa; and
  • Construction and opening of a bakery at the Popular Education Center (school) in Huanchaco, Peru, managed by the mothers of the children at the school.

During this past year, funding was obtained for the project in Tanzania, and by May, the construction process was underway. In August a group of volunteers with the new Micro-project will evaluate the work to strengthen the project as it continues to grow during 2011-2012.

The nurseries sponsored in Kayamandi (South Africa) have received a general rehabilitation including the painting of walls, floors and ceilings. Medical equipment and mattresses are also being provided.

Finally, thanks to the cooperation of the multinational company Wrigley, we have managed to provide all of the equipment needed for the bakery at the Popular Education Center in Huanchaco (Peru).

This cooperative project will involve the training and self-management of the mothers of the children who attend the school, providing better care for the children and food for the community, as well as income to further develop projects at the center. Together, Wrigley and AIPC Pandora have created a micro-project  based on the company's Corporate Volunteer and Volunteer of European University of Madrid. Employees of this company will travel to Peru to lead workshops on sales techniques and business management; and will implement a dental health campaign.

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News from EIL Turkey

Program coordinator, Elvan Salman, has left Experiment Turkey to pursue her master’s degree studies at Bosphorus University in International Relations. She will be replaced by Tim Hauschild for the summer. Tim was our Weltwaerts volunteer from September 2010 to March 2011. (He is pictured here during his time as a volunteer.)

Our recent volunteer from the US, Mr. Devin Sommer, has worked in the “Teaching English” project in the Urgent Need Project Foundation. The Foundation supports low income families and their children. Language classes with our volunteers have been a great success; and the project continues as new volunteers arrive. Our current volunteer is Gala Von Nettelbladt from Experiment Germany.

Our VIP volunteer from UK, Carla Watson Smith, is volunteering at the Turkish Arts & Handicrafts Project belonging to the Foundation for Serving Turkish Culture. The project takes place in a former Ottoman Medrese (a school for Islamic and Secular education) which was built in 1559 and is located in old part of Istanbul near St. Sophia and Topkapi Palace. More than 20 courses on different traditional Turkish arts and music are offered.

Carla works in the gift shop where they have many foreign visitors, and also helps in the classrooms. She is also taking some art classes and doing some projects herself. She recently sent a note to EIL Turkey, expressing her appreciation of her volunteer experience, "I cannot thank you enough for the experience that I am having. The people are just so so nice and my host family is too! I am having the best time ever being of help to the ladies at the Medresisi."

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Homestays Highlight Summer Abroad

World Affairs Council of PittsburghThe lives of eighteen U.S. high school students are about to get a lot more exciting. This summer they will be jetting off to all corners of the world to immerse themselves in the daily lives of Australians, Germans, Spaniards, Turks, Thai, Costa Ricans, and nine other native populations.

The Experiment in International LivingThis marks the eighth year that the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh, in partnership with The Experiment in International Living, has provided this unique opportunity to local students. These high school juniors--selected as Global Travel Scholars--will leave behind friends, family, and the familiar comforts of Western Pennsylvania to discover first-hand the joys and challenges of living in a foreign country.

David A. Murdoch, current Chair of the Council’s Board of Directors and Chair Emeritus of World Learning has been instrumental in implementing the Global Travel Scholarship Program in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “Not only does The Experiment provide a real understanding of the world in which we live,” notes Mr. Murdoch, “but it equips a person on how to cope with difference and adversity and builds confidence and courage in its participants.”

“Becoming a Global Travel Scholar is about more than the opportunity to travel,” explains John Connolly, a junior at Riverview High School who will be participating in a community service program in Argentina for four weeks. “It is about the chance to understand a whole different way of life, and learning how to translate that into my own cultural consciousness.”

Scholars will also learn quite a bit about themselves this summer. Teireik Williams, a junior at Pittsburgh CAPA, who will be heading to Italy, is eager to step out of his comfort zone and grow as a person. “I know that it will challenge me to learn more about myself; challenge me to think about the things I take for granted; the things that I do with so much ease, not really thinking that someone somewhere else might not have that same capability.”

Sarah Amick, a junior at Northgate High School, can barely contain her excitement about all the new experiences that await her in China. “I want to see what I’m made of. I want to see what the rest of the world is made of,” she says. “The challenge will be to make this experience an integral part of my growth and my life. I want it to change the way I view and fit into the world.”

Perhaps no aspect of their time abroad will challenge the Scholars more--and have a greater impact on their personal and intercultural growth--than the time they will spend living with a local host family, many of whom speak little or no English.

“The homestay is the one feature of the Program that most concerns the Scholars each year,” explains Murdoch. “They are worried about being able to communicate with their host parents; about fitting in with the family’s daily routine; about not causing offense to the family. And every year, when they return, the Scholars single out the homestay as the best part of the entire summer,” he says with a smile.

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Field Reports from EIL Ecuador

~Julio Paredes spends an academic year in Germany with Experiment e.V.

Description: C:\Users\myriam\AppData\Local\Temp\Julio Paredes junio 2011.jpgEverything began as something really strange for me, every single thing was totally different, but it was in some way really interesting.

The first time in Germany was really difficult, as I could not speak German at all, but it also inspired me to improve my German as fast as I could.

Sometimes it was sad to be so far away from home but when I looked around I saw that I was not alone--my host family was helping me to improve my German every day; and of course, I found a lot of friends in the School who were always able to help me.

I loved my school the whole year! It was really fun to meet new people, who are really interested in you, and want to know about your country, your culture and most of them about the language--everyday somebody tried some word in Spanish to talk with me.

Now, at the end of the best year of my life, I am pretty much sure that I will not forget any detail of it... Parties, soccer games, meetings, and a bunch of new experiences. Now, I am going back to my family, my friends, but I feel that I leave a part of me here. I am sure that this experience changed my life forever... I feel new, I feel ready for living, and I feel good.

Former Banker from Switzerland Makes Lifetime Experience Volunteering in the Ecuadorian Cloud Forest

Description: Paul Zimmermann Poncho.jpg

"Mi Vida Latina (My latin life)" by Paul Gion Zimmermann (Switzerland), 29 years old

I have lived in Ecuador for ten months now and had so many marvelous experiences, met so many amazing and amiable people, that I actually don’t want to leave anymore. I guess from now on I won’t be able to accept getting to know a country just as a regular tourist.

As far as I am concerned, I think Spanish is easy to learn and both my host family and my Spanish teacher at EIL helped me a lot. Of course, initially there were some misunderstandings due to language and cultural differences, but all of them have been resolved simply, with a smile and laughter.

During my time in Ecuador I had the opportunity to volunteer for different projects, as well as in Quito, the country’s capital. I helped orphans with their homework and played with them so they would forget for a moment that their mothers are in jail. In a village, I taught English, physical education, computer science and math at the local primary school and worked in nature, where you – unlike in Switzerland – would  occasionally run into a poisonous snake.

From the Ecuadorian beaches to the Andes over to the Amazonian jungle, various cities and villages, I have seen really a lot here and there’s still more to discover. I climbed to the summit of the world’s highest active volcano Cotopaxi (5,897 m/19,344 ft) and now as the grand finale I’ve scheduled a visit to the unique Galápagos Islands.

In return for my work the people showed me that you can appreciate and enjoy life when you’re not drowning in luxury, or rather when you actually hardly possess anything. As a former banker my decision to work as volunteer here in Ecuador is a drastic change from my previous life, but I don’t regret it at all. When I’m back in Switzerland, I’ve decided to go to university once more and become a primary school teacher.

I recommend everybody who’s interested in a program here to come over and live and enjoy their time as intensively as possible. Personally, I haven’t had any single bad experience with “dangerous” Ecuador. Once I took the wrong bus and ended up in Quito’s poorest (and most dangerous) neighborhood, but people there were really friendly and even invited me drink a coke.

Entonces, ¡ven acá para tu experiencia latina! (So, come here for  your Latin experience!)

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Volunteers in Albania

Description: C:\Users\Samuel\Desktop\RBA\IMG_0454.JPGChris Davie and Sam Walker, EIL UK, at the Rromani Baxt Albania Center in Tirana, Albania

We arrived at the center not quite knowing what to expect. We were greeted by many beaming smiles attached to about 30 excited children all enthusiastic to know who we were and why we were in their classroom.

Rromani Baxt Albania is an organization based in the capital of Albania, Tirana. The center there aims to provide education for young Roma children who come from a community that is mainly poor and uneducated.

We taught the children English, numbers and colors in the form of songs and games. We invented new games using a colored parachute that we had brought with us. It was good to see the children playing and learning together as a group.

As schools finish in the afternoons the center provides extra lessons for children of secondary school age. Here we set up an English department to help children with their English homework as well as give them the opportunity to practice speaking English.

It was a pleasure to see when a child had learnt something from what we had taught. For example one of the songs we used to teach English numbers was often sung to us when we entered the room. Once understanding some of the children’s background and home environment, it was good to see and experience that this center offered a place of fun and rest from a life that has many challenges.

As well as teaching we also assisted the center with some of their administration tasks. The RBA produces reports on the development and progress of each child and the center itself. The reports were written in English so we would ensure the correct translation from Albanian into English.

Description: C:\Users\Samuel\Desktop\RBA\103_8860.JPGThe staff at RBA were always pleasant, friendly and very understanding of the language barrier. In fact we were able to learn many new words from them and also get a more in-depth understanding of what Albanian life is really like. Likewise we were given a taste of Albanian food and were well looked after throughout our time there.

Overall it was a privilege to be awarded the opportunity through EIL UK to work with RBA for 3 weeks. It was good to see how the center is trying to reach out to this minority and help lift the next generation above the poverty line. We hope that their good work will continue with greater success and effectiveness. We would recommend this volunteer programme to anyone who has a heart to experience a different culture and help make the difference in a poor and disadvantaged community."

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Muchas Gracias from EIL Argentina

New friends gathered in the garden outside the offices of EIL Argentina to acknowledge a partnership that has benefited a very special school.  

Roxana O'Harra, Special Program Director for ERDT (Educational Resource Development Trust), presented EIL Argentina with a gift of one thousand dollars to be used in the rehabilitation of an old playground at the Martin Guemes School in Isonza, Salta, Argentina. (She is pictured here--far right--with her brother and her daughter Samantha, along with EIL Argentina Program Manager, Wanda Moon and Director, Jean Wittman.)

The funds were raised through ERDT's iServe Project which involves exchange students program coordinators, host families, high schools and local families in the US in a project designed to provide practical relief and support to another community in need. 

The iServe Project is an expression of ERDT's belief that we can BECOME THE CHANGE locally and globally and have real influence in creating solutions for socioeconomic, cultural and health challenges. Originally from Argentina herself, Roxana O'Harra has championed iServe as a vehicle to promote specific programs like this one. 

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Federation EIL Represented at the Intercultural Horizons Conference

Presenters from all corners of the globe addressed various aspects of intercultural competence development in Siena, Italy this May. Federation EIL was represented at the conference by Professor Alvino E. Fantini, who was invited to deliver both a plenary (Exploring Intercultural Competence) and a workshop (Language: An Essential Component of Intercultural Competence). Below is an excerpt from the summary of his plenary presentation.

Exploring Intercultural Competence


by Alvino E. Fantini, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, SIT Graduate Institute, Brattleboro, Vermont, USA, and Educational Consultant, Federation of The Experiment in International Living

In today’s world, the effects of globalization are increasingly obvious. More people around the world now have both direct and indirect contact than ever before. This situation presents new opportunities and new challenges for educators who prepare those who travel abroad to live, work, or study. Developments in our field, make us especially well positioned to help these individuals maximize the benefits of an intercultural experience.

For this to happen, however, we need to be clear about our professional goal: to prepare individuals for positive intercultural participation through effective communication. This means that individuals not only need the ability to make themselves understood but also to be accepted behaviorally and interactionally, especially since "acceptance" by people of any culture is more often strained by offending behaviors than by incorrect grammar. This insight, in fact, prompted the development of the field of intercultural communication over 50 years ago. Today, we need to rethink not only our goal, but also how we design and implement language and intercultural communication orientation before, during, and after, an intercultural sojourn. We need to consider carefully how we conceptualize, develop, and monitor the abilities that lead to intercultural competence.

. Alvino Fantini has served as Federation EIL's educational consultant for 20 years, and was first an Experimenter himself in 1954. He led trips with EIL/USA and was employed with World Learning and its SIT Graduate Institute for over 40 years. Alvino recently developed the EFL Guide for Volunteer Teachers for the Volunteers for International Partnership (VIP) Program .

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Highlights from the GA Peer Sessions

Several peer sessions were conducted at the General Assembly in Santiago, Chile. Member organizations and observers generated a list of topics in response to their needs and expertise; after which a selection committee determined priorities based on interest. See highlights from some of these sessions below.

Social Networking

An eager group of members and observers gathered for the session on Social Networks. The majority of participants reported using these resources in their organizations: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs.

The group distinguished the use of Facebook and blogs in this way: Information on all programs is shared on FB while blogging serves as a venue for testimonials for special programs or for particular groups. EIL Brazil was noted for the au pair blog that they have created.

Additional social networking resources and strategies were also identified: Trion, search engine optimization, e-mail newsletters, google ads, Wikipedia, and Linked In.

Program Development

A large circle of GA participants gathered to discuss the development of program content. A strong emphasis was placed on working directly with sending organizations to determine the needs of their participants, as well as identifying what the receiving communities have to offer--in terms of time and resources.

Participants in this discussion generated a list of topics that touched on current issues which could be explored domestically, regionally and internationally; with an added focus on those projects which could be funded through outside sources:

  • Civil society
  • Human rights
  • Young leaders skills
  • Sustainable development
  • Traditional arts and music
  • Water/ecology
  • Immigration
  • Women's health and education

Federation EIL & the United Nations

Federation EIL holds a consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Connie Crosson, our UN representative, was on hand in Chile to discuss ways in which this distinction benefits members of The Federation. Together they discussed:

  • The full potential of the use of this status as a tool of credibility and marketing;
  • The distinction this status offers in relation to other organizations;
  • The increased access to grants in the international field due to this status.

Furthermore, the group discussed using UN initiatives to distinguish program offerings in these ways:

  • Sharing the alignment of the UN Millennium Goals with program participants;
  • Generating press linking programs to the goals;
  • Developing new projects with the goals in mind;
  • Networking with UN related agencies in home countries;
  • Enriching program portfolios within this network.

Members are requested to notify the International Office at federation(at) when working with a UN related agency so that this information can be shared.

Volunteers for International Partnership Development

VIP members discussed the importance of good communication--emphasizing the following areas as key to building and maintaining strong, successful partnerships:


  1. Sharing complete descriptions in all marketing materials
  2. Providing sending partners with comprehensive information about programs and projects
  3. Preparing volunteers and managing expectations through high-quality pre-departure and in-country orientations
  4. Participating in the orientation sessions of the sending countries, whenever possible
  5. Developing comprehensive volunteer handbooks
  6. Ensuring thorough and systematic support to volunteers during their program
  7. Provide adequate support to the volunteers during their program;
  8. Increasing and maintaining open communication between sending and hosting organization; and providing support to each other
  9. Evaluating the program with the volunteers and sharing feedback between offices
  10. Considering staff exchanges to develop a greater understanding of how things work in another country

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In Memoriam

It is with great sadness that we share the news that André Pigny former director of Experiment France, passed away on April 8 at the age of 75.  Those who worked with André will remember him for the great energy and creativity he brought to the organization during his 13 year tenure from 1972 through 1985.  Friends and colleagues around the world will always be grateful to André for his many contributions to the field and for his commitment to building peace through understanding. Federation EIL members offer their condolences to his wife Nicole and to all his extended family.     

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Links of Interest:

Hubspot Free Marketing Webinars

Federation EIL (FEIL)

Volunteers for International Partnership (VIP) the volunteer program of FEIL

EFL Guide for Volunteer Teachers - Newly developed FEIL resource for volunteers teaching English

America's Unofficial Ambassadors Program --Featuring VIP & EIL programs in Muslim-majority countries.

 National Geographic Global Action Atlas -Featuring VIP offerings

UN WOMEN, United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women

Summit on the Millennium Development Goals "We Can End Poverty by 2015" 

Council of Europe Education Newsletter

NAFSA Resources for Study Abroad offices

Traveling Naturally and Green Earth Guides -Newest guide: Switzerland

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