This year much of humanity will participate in the largest global observance of the International Day of Peace since it first began 30 years ago. UN Secretary General Ban Kim-moon has declared a moment of silence across the planet to take place at noon, on Wednesday, September 21, 2011, in all time zones.
Thousands of organizations and hundreds of millions of people worldwide observe this occasion and many events last for several days. Some began on 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001; while others continue through October 2, the birthday of Gandhi birthday and the International Day of Non-Violence.
The International Day of Peace was established by a unanimous resolution of the United Nations in 1981. Federation EIL has held consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council as a nongovernmental organization since 1978, and with The Council of Europe since 1981. Additionally, we were recognized as a Peace Messenger organization by the United Nations Secretary General in 1989.
Our hearts go out to all those around the world who have been impacted by war, famine and other natural and manmade disasters.
The Executive Board of Federation EIL announces the 2012 General Assembly to be held in Kobe, Japan; May 7-12, 2012 (with an optional excursion day on May 6.)
Many thanks to our gracious hosts, EIL Japan, who are busy at work with the International Office and the Executive Board to plan the upcoming General Assembly on the 80th anniversary of the The Experiment in International Living.
Members and friends will gather in Kobe, a port city, on the southern side of the main island of Japan. Kobe is blessed with natural beauty, including Mt. Rokko and the Seto Inland Sea; and is also known as a gourmet destination--with Kobe beef and Nada Japanese sake, to wines and sweets. Kobe is the sixth-largest city in Japan, just an hour away by train to Osaka, Kyoto and Nara.
More to come on this exciting 80th anniversary of the Experiment!
Seven delegates from Federation EIL joined more than 1,700 people from 70 countries to participate in the 64th United Nations Conference for NGOs in Bonn, Germany.
Representing Ireland, Korea and Germany (as well as a partner from Colombia), our delegation enjoyed three very inspiring, challenging, and productive days filled with roundtable discussions, workshops and negotiations, as well as many fruitful conversations during our meals together.
At the Federation EIL booth--one of the 26 at the conference venue--many delegates stopped by to learn about our volunteer programs (VIP) and other Federation activities.
In addition, Farah Cherif, vice-president of Thaqafat (EIL Morocco), made an excellent contribution as speaker in one roundtable discussion, “Sustainable Development Governance Issues from Local to Global: The Role of Citizen Participation.”
Measuring the economic value of volunteering, discussing a growing disconnect of humankind and the Earth, enlightening one another on the role of voluntary engagement and exchanging ideas on a new economic model were only some of the many issues discussed around sustainability and volunteerism. Speakers such as Vandana Shiva, Achim Steiner, Daniel Bena and Rose de Lima Ramanankavana touched and challenged the delegates with interesting insights, remarkable stories and inspiring calls to action.
Before the closing session, delegates unanimously adopted, "Sustainable Societies, Responsible Societies," a declaration proposed at the conference. The conference ended with an appeal to the members of the NGO community to bring forward their ideas, expertise, thoughts, and wishes to their respective governments on the Road to Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development--June 4-6, 2012. Activities toward a sustainable world can, however, be started by everyone, now!
Several representatives from Federation EIL will also attend the 2011 World Youth Student Travel Conference (WYSTC) in Barcelona, Spain from September 20 to 23, 2012. Federation EIL and Experiment members from France, Germany, South Africa, Mexico, Guatemala, Spain and the UK will be among the 800 attendees from more than 80 countries representing youth, student, and educational travel organizations, language schools, educational institutions and related support services. Look for an update from our Federation team in the next issue of In the Loop.
Brattleboro, Vermont, home to the US Experiment and the International Office of the Federation EIL, experienced one of the worst natural disasters in Vermont’s history in late August as a result of Hurricane Irene.
Fortunately, neither our offices sustained damage, and programs at SIT Graduate Institute and Study Abroad began as scheduled. That said, both staff and students at World Learning were committed to helping the community recover from this disaster--serving as volunteers in the clean-up effort and using the campus as a Red Cross as distribution center to get supplies to families in need.
Donors have made it possible for World Learning to contribute $20,000 to the Boys and Girls Club of Brattleboro, a non-profit serving area youth, which was strongly impacted by the flooding. World Learning has also contacted the Governor's office to discuss ways in that which they can support the long-term rebuilding efforts in Brattleboro.
Many thanks to all those who reached out to World Learning and the International Office of the Experiment at this time.
YES International, our Federation member in Korea, had a sizzling hot summer with people coming in and out of the country almost as if they were visiting neighbors next door. Besides regular summer programs of the International Teenage Workcamp, Teenage Volunteer Camp, World Learning, and National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) Korea Program, other programs launched this summer as the number of participants grew.
Since 2010, YES has recruited volunteers from colleges to serve as ambassadors of Korean language and culture to foreign youth visiting Korea through the organization's various programs. The enthusiasm of participants, known as "supporters" was unusually high with more than 140 applicants for the 30 spots available.
The "supporters" for World Learning and NSLI-Y devoted more than half of their summer vacation to their foreign students, displaying the true meaning of jeong ( "full of affection and care.") Foreign youth loved being with the passionate supporters, as they were easy to talk to and helpful in every way.
YES International is also collaborating more with local communities. The organization successfully carried out a Korea-America Cultural Exchange Camp in the city of Bucheon--an hour from Seoul. This camp brought Korean and American students together to learn about each other’s culture and language.
This fall, YES will also link the youth of Guri, Korea with its sister city, Carrollton, Texas. The youth from Guri will stay in Carrollton for two weeks, living with host families and attending highschool there.YES is proud to be a part of this exchange program which serves as an important stepping stone for the development of our future leaders.
YES looks forward to expanding local partnerships to provide more opportunities for young people.
INLEX/CA (Integrated Learning Experiences, Central America), our newest Federation member from Guatemala, offers short-term programs for companies, organizations, schools and colleges who want to send groups on educational adventures in Guatemala and Costa Rica.
Programs are participatory in nature, including field visits and hands-on practice in the following areas:
Presentations by local experts who are directly involved in the program areas enhance the learning; while homestays build communication and understanding. Well-trained facilatators support participants with cross-cultural training and opportunities to process experiences.
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.
EIL Chile is working alongside the Chilean Ministry of Education and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to recruit native or near native speakers of English to work as volunteer English Language Teaching Assistants in public or subsidized schools. This is part of the ongoing effort to improve English listening and speaking skills among Chilean students.
The success of this 4 month program, which runs from March to July 2012, has been reflected in the increasing number of volunteers year after year, and the positive feedback from local communities, host families, schools and society in general.
In a special week-long orientation provided by EIL Chile, volunteers are engaged in a well-organized program introducing them to: Chilean Spanish, teaching methods, lesson plan development, teaching practice in real contexts, lectures on Chilean society and economy, life in Chile, interactions with locals, and cultural activities, among others. Previous volunteers who participated in this program through EIL Chile appreciate the invaluable support they receive from its expert and attentive staff.
Students with EIL Ecuador have headed to highschool in the United States, France and Germany where they are eager to embrace a life-changing experience. Some will be abroad for a semester and others will spend an entire school year abroad, while others will stay on even longer to gain more experience in their area of study.
EIL Ecuador holds two orientations for participants before they depart. The first one took place with parents and students; and the second one took place mid-July. These gatherings offer the students an opportunity to get to know each other and to gain useful information about their time abroad.
EIL Ecuador wishes all their participants a successful time abroad!
"Nosotros y la Basura" (We and the Trash)
This past July 28, the educational documentary “Nosotros y la Basura-- Empecemos ahora!” played at the Ocho y Medio cinema, in Quito, Ecuador.
This documentary was produced by four young Germans (Gregor Sauer, Gianni Seufert, Thomas Dollmaier, and Malte Brammerloh) who came to Ecuador with Experiment e.V. as part of the nationally sponsored “weltwärts” volunteer program.
With the help and support of the local municipalities, educational centers and environmental NGOs, the volunteers were able to create a short educational film that shows, explains, and--most of all--motivates people to protect Ecuador's world-famous biodiversity.
Attending the film premier was the German ambassador to Ecuador, the embassy secretary, and others involved in the waste management and environmental sectors.
EIL Ecuador congratulates these four volunteers for their exceptional effort and their timely message that everyone can contribute to creating a healthier future.
Every year Experiment e.V. alumni (participants, host families and volunteers) meet for a common activity somewhere in Germany. On the last weekend of July, forty-two alumni were greeted by the dairyman in one of most southern towns for a weekend in the Alps.
Friday evening was filled with laughter, conversations, late arrivals and great local food. Heavy rain was forecasted for Saturday's hike, and all alumni were well prepared and equipped with wonderful green Experiment capes.
In contrast to the weather forecast however, the day was beautiful, clearing mountaintops and offering the hikers ample rests and a delicious local lunch in the sun. The day was completed with a performance by local musicians and a party far into the night. Goodbyes came too soon on Sunday but not without the promise to meet again somewhere in Germany in the summer of 2012.
Note: e.V. Germany Public Relations Manager, Petra Keller, personally demonstrated the many uses of the cape when she visited the International Office in Vermont. Not only does it serve as a rain poncho for their Experimenters around the world, but also as a ground cover--and even a sun tent!
Volunteers in Latin America, Africa and Asia have arrived back to Spain, eager to share the accomplishments of their three-week summer programs abroad. Here are some highlights from each:
India-- Participants were deeply satisfied with their work in the classrooms at an impoverished school in Jaipur. The hugs and happy faces of the children, eager to see each new wall, was their measure of success.
Ecuador--Volunteers describe the town of Saraguro in the Ecuadorian Andes as something off a painter's canvas--with eternal rainbows produced by a peculiar mix of tropical climate. The project here contributed to the mission of the Foundation Kawsay, strengthening Saraguro communities through intercultural education, health, family and community.
Peru--This schooling project started in 2005 in the dusty land of a shanty town with lots of dreams: "Ramon Castilla." Because there is no public funding, the center was built by a host of participants: priest, volunteers, donors, staff, parents, and community.
Uganda--Participants helped build HYPOHEALS, implementing a multidisciplinary event and a training to expand educational opportunities at the center. Strong enrollment was reported by the volunteers, with 46 students scheduling courses.
Tanzania--The project aims to improve the living conditions of the Albino and disabled population at the Kabanga Center, supported by the Tanzanian Red Cross. 200 refugee students have graduated at School Kabanga.
Senegal--The volunteers were shocked at first by the noise of people in markets, the colors, the car exhaust, the dirt, odors, and the street life in the city of Saint Louis. They worked with a network of local organizations to improve the health service in neighborhoods with large gaps in resources. Specifically, they addressed the treatment of homeless children and helped introduce a "code of conduct" for their guardians, raising awareness in the Senegalese society of the conditions of the homeless.
Brazil--When volunteers first arrived at CIACAC, a center for children and adolescence in the Favela da Parada Lucas, they were overwhelmed by the great needs and how little time they had to give. "Think of each child as an individual," the Director told them, "Don't think of all of them at once." After three days of painting and restoration work, the children began arriving. For three weeks, more than thirty children saw guitars instead of guns, brushes instead of bottles, they made art instead of simply playing video games; and they received smiles rather than challenges, love instead of violence.
Argentina--After three intense, cold weeks, volunteers at the Food Bank Foundation of Buenos Aires, completed their work sorting and packaging 10,000 kilos of products that went to soup kitchens, schools and nursing homes, etc. The volunteers felt deeply appreciated, especially by the "little hands" who helped them cook. Volunteers played games with the children in the dininghall and created a reading corner for them. Their goodbyes were very emotional.
Malí--Volunteers describe meeting with one of the "wise elders" of the village who was a visionary for his people. With the help of others, he proposed building three tree troughs to improve the living conditions of the people. Participants rolled up their sleeves and started digging, and the elder was the one to lay the first stone."
Prochorus--Volunteers working with kindergartners in a deprived area of the Western Cape were excited to improve classroom conditions by repairing roofs and walls, as well as painting. They joyfully met the request to decorate the walls so that the children would enjoy seeing them every day.
MITS (Making an Impact Through Sports)--The MITS program is a proactive social initiative established by a group of residents concerned about keeping vulnerable young people off the streets and out of the criminal courts--and onto the playing fields and sport courts. Sport is recognized as key and strategic to unite, empower, and create work and playing opportunities; as well as an invaluable vehicle to create social change within communities.
This year Summer Abroad groups from the US Experiment in International Living spent the month of July in two different locations in Turkey.
An orientation program and tour in Izmir was followed by a city homestay in Istanbul. After a nice Sunday brunch, the students thanked their host families and traveled out to their village homestays.
The first group did their community project in Kulaca village near the city of Bursa, building a sports field for the community. Upon competition, a soccer game took place between the village kids and the Experiment volunteers with a score of 3 to 3.
The second group traveled to the south of Turkey to a village in the city of Adana where they painted the village school and created a world map signed with their hand prints.
I was a little nervous when I first arrived in Istanbul for the first part of my volunteer project. Before starting I decided to take a one week trip on the Gulet (boat for Tourists out of Fethiye on the south coast ) for relaxing and then a few days at Olympus in the tree houses by the beach. A friend, Caroline from England came with me, which was a great start to my adventure.
Then I was ready for Istanbul.
What can I say, it was a delight from the very first moment I arrived. I could probably write a book about my experiences.
I was met at the airport by Elif, a student that was helping on the project who gave me a few Turkish lessons--helping me understand the structure of the Turkish language.
My job was to talk to the staff and encourage them to speak English. They all had a good knowledge base so they only needed practice. They made me feel very welcome, and I was able to do as many different arts as I liked.
I also helped in the art gallery with Handan when Coskun was having a day off. I did pop in to the kitchens and helped with the preparation and washing-up on a couple of occasions when things got a bit busy at the lovely cafe that was set out in the court yard.
‘The romantic Istanbul’ is how I feel about this city; commuting every day on the ferry from Kadikoy with the sun-light on the water, the beautiful silhouette of the city in the morning; and also at sun set when I returned home.
~Carla Watson Smith, UK
At first there was nothing but gray wall – without cement! So we, the two volunteers Sophie and Maggi, asked our "grandfather" Don Tonio, who is a construction engineer, for help. He showed us how to put the mixture of sand, cement and water on the wall.
This was the first time Sophie and I had worked as builders, and it was very funny; but we earned the respect of the people of the village as the first women doing that type of work(although we had a little help from our neighbor Wilson.)
Ours was singular goal: To make a beautiful mural on the library walls like the one that already exists at the school with beautiful butterflies. Thus, we didn't mind the blisters on our fingers.
Whitening the wall was easygoing and soon we were ready to start the drawing and painting of the background. The lagoon of Barra de Potosí with a big mangrove on the left side, the beach and palm trees on the right side and the big hill, “Cerro de Guamilule”, in the middle of course. So we eternalized the four habitats on the walls: mangroves with the lagoon, palms, shrubbery and sea.
We had the good fortune to be supported by two students from the UAM, one of the universities in Mexico City. These students had been in Barra for 3 months, working on their theses, teaching classes to primary students and analyzing the nature of Barra--with its more than 100 species of birds.
In May, these college students meet with the kids in the library, and taught them about 25 pre-selected birds of la Barra: where they live, how big they are, what they eat, etc. Afterwards we tossed the dice to decide which child would paint which bird. The children were very excited to see which would be theirs!
The first step was to do a drawing on paper which would later serve as a pattern for the pencil drawing on the wall. We gave the children the colors they needed, and they were very focused to do their best--which they did! Two groups of children painted for 4 days each.
Alas, the hill of Guamilule was too big to paint all of the birds in its trees so we decided to put another little painting on the wall inside to include branches for another 3 birds.
In June, we finalized the project with a party where each child received a certificate of special friendship with their bird. The children were very excited and proud of themselves. We are all so happy to have beautified our library!
~Maggie Puhl, German volunteer in Barra de Potosi, PEI Mexico
A Federation EIL partnership has benefited a very special school in Isonza, Salta, Argentina. The old playground at Martin Guemes School has been renewed with a gift from a partner organization of EIL Argentina.
One thousand dollars was received from ERDT (Educational Resource Development Trust) who raised the funds through their iServe Project which involves exchange students, program coordinators, host families, high schools and local families in the United States in a project designed to provide practical relief and support to another community in need.
"I teach the children English by using colorful masks so that they can express themselves dramatically," says Aisling, explaining that picking up small words in English has a snowballing effect for these four to twelve year-olds, weaning them away from beggary.
Kusum Kuman who runs the homeless shelter agrees, "Even small efforts go a long way in bringing about social change."
As the recipient of EIL Ireland's Travel Award, Aisling was able to realize her dream of traveling to India. The Experiment in International Living in India arranged for her homestay and the opportunity to work with NGO that supported street kids. EIL India helps train the children in vocational pursuits to create new opportunities for them.
Når en mann kan forårsake så mye ondt - tenk hvor mye kjærlighet vi kan skape sammen.
If one man can create so much hate, imagine how much love we can create together.
~ Helle Gannestad, AUF student
Following the tragedy at the AUF summer camp, letters were sent out on behalf of Federation EIL to our sister organizations in Norway in an expression of compassion and solidarity.
July 29, 2011
Today we are sending you a message on behalf of all Experiment Offices worldwide. We are still shocked by the tragedy that hit your country one week ago.
While it is almost impossible to understand how someone can feel so much hatred and commit such an atrocity, we have to accept that we cannot change what has happened. What we can do, though, is that we choose how we react to it. We are relieved to learn that Norway is responding with more democracy, more openness and more tolerance!
As organizations that are committed to international exchange, we feel that now more than ever is the time to increase our activities and to do everything in our power to build peace through understanding.
With this letter we want to express our sympathy and our support. Should you feel there is anything the Experiment in International Living can do to help, please do not hesitate to let us know.
With kind regards,
Chantal Mayer,Vice President of Federation EIL (AIPC Pandora- EIL Spain)
Myriam Flor,Vice President of Federation EIL (EIL Ecuador)
Bettina Wiedmann, President of Federation EIL (EIL Germany)
Thomas C. Todd, husband of Federation EIL Director, Ilene Todd, passed away this September in Brattleboro, Vermont. Tom and Ilene met over forty years ago at World Learning when he worked for The Experiment in International Living as the Director of The School for International Training's International Students of English Program. Members and friends of the worldwide Experiment send their condolences to Federation EIL Director, Ilene Todd, and family.
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