In the Loop

The Newsletter of Federation EIL - Worldwide Network of the Experiment in International Living - October 2009

In This Issue

FEIL Attends WYSTC
News from EIL Chile
YES International Korea Hosts first Summer Abroad Group and NSLI-Y Korea
Micro Project in Argentina - A Day in the Life of Chilecito
Conference on Quality and Evaluation Management in International Volunteer Service Programs
SASTS "Dlala Nathi" 2010 Soccer Programme
Update from the UN by Connie Crosson FEIL UN Representative
EIL Ireland's Travel Award Winners attend the Vermont Governor's Institute
EIL Japan - PIEE Merger Complete
Korean Partners visit EIL Ireland
Update from Isonza School Argentina
News from Thaqafat Association, Morocco
News from Experiment India
Summer Abroad Group in Argentina in the Media
FEIL Board Members Report from a Visit to Switzerland
April in Paris - Save the date!
World Habitat Day - 5 October 2009
Links of Interest

FEIL Well represented at WYSTC in Manchester FEIL and Friends at WYSTC

WYSTC 2009 was held in Manchester, England from September 22 - 25.  This was the 18th annual World Youth Student and Travel Conference but the first time it has been hosted in the United Kingdom.  With over 100,000 university students and one of the largest populations of international students in Europe, Manchester was a very fitting venue for what many consider one of the key trade events for organizations involved with youth, student and educational travel. 

At this year's event there were 739 attendees from 444 organizations spanning 66 countries.  Included in those numbers were 13 delegates representing Federation EIL and its many programs:  I was joined at WYSTC by CEI/Club des 4 Vents - France (Jose Luis Ponti, Joelle Lamouroux, Angelina Lacouturier); Experiment e.V-Germany (Bettina Wiedmann and Sabine Stedtfeld); IYEP Ghana (Kwame Agyapong); EIL Intercultural Learning-Ireland (Kevin Hickey); PEI Mexico (Cecilia Gamez); SYTO Nigeria (Omoyemi Sarayi);  SASTS - South Africa (Alex Bleach); and our VIP partners - Shanghai Xu Bo Art & Culture Exchange (Jiong Duanmu) and Ninukot EHF - Iceland (Kristrun Sveinsdottir).  Collectively we met with a large number of organizations to present our programs, cement existing relationships and seek out new partnerships.  Of course there is much follow up to be done as we work to turn these contacts into productive new relationships but WYSTC provided a terrific venue for getting the process started.

The entire group met for dinner one evening and were delighted to be joined by colleagues from EIL UK Rosie Sessarego and Lorraine Lockyer along with Allan Hodgson who lives in London and serves double duty as a board member for EIL UK and for World Learning/the US Experiment. The entire group is pictured above.

INNOVATION FOR TOMORROW'S OPPORTUNITIES was the theme for WYSTC 2009 and the importance of creativity, adaptability, excellence, service and communication permeated all of the sessions.  Even if you were not able to attend the conference you can view videos of most presentations on the WYSTC site. Highly recommended is the Keynote Speech by Lee Crockett an award winning designer, marketing consultant, instructor, entrepreneur, artists, musician and writer.  You will enjoy it while also learning to think about innovation in some new and interesting ways.

Thank you to all my colleagues for helping to raise the profile of Federation EIL and for being such a visible and positive presence at WYSTC 2009.

Ilene Todd, Director, Federation EIL 

To check out the special issue of "In The Loop" that was created for distribution at WYSTC, click here.

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News from EIL Chile

English Opens Doors - EOD- Since 2004 EIL Chile has worked together with the Chilean Ministry of Education in order to support the EOD program with the volunteer recruitment process. The ministry has openly recognized the high quality and English Opens Doors Grouppreparation of the EIL volunteers due to the immersion program (language lessons, teaching training, school visits, class observation, etc.) offered by EIL Chile prior to EOD official start date. This past July, the first four US volunteers arrived in a joint venture between EIL Chile and Interexchange Inc. from N.Y. However, it is extremely important to continue increasing the presence of EIL member offices since none of the last two year volunteers have been recruited by member offices. EIL Chile volunteers (5) counted only for a small percentage out of the total 150 volunteers recruited for the four month program started last July. EOD volunteers have tremendously increased since 2004 with the first 15 volunteers reaching up to 555 recruited in 2008, and an expected total of 800 for 2009. This is a great opportunity to support each other and mark the presence and strength of the EIL Federation for the 2010 program which matches the bicentennial anniversary of Chile and a big challenge to recruit 1,200 volunteers. Volunteers can apply for the 4 (2 start dates), 6 or 8 month programs where they work as assistant teachers, learn Spanish and live with a Chilean family.

Chilean Volunteers in Korea - Two Chilean College students where invited to attend the Yeosu City International Youth Festival in Korea. Unexpectedly, the Festival was cancelled two days before the trip and they ended up participating in the work camp organized by IWO office. Here is one of the volunteer’s stories.

“…Last July I received a call from EIL Chile inviting me to participate in a youth festival and a volunteer program in Seoul. I immediately accepted, but I thought, Seoul, Oh boy what a challenge!! My first thought was that I did not know anything about South Korea, where is it? Will they understand English? All those questions came to my mind.

Two days before departing I found out that the Festival in Yeosu City was cancelled due to the H1 N1 flu. What a disappointment at first, but then I got the confirmation that I was going anyway because IWO office was taking care of me during the first two weeks. I left Chile with a strange feeling, because I didn’t know much about Korea and the main activity I was going to do was cancelled. When arriving in Korea that feeling changed completely, IWO people made me feel wonderful and also all the other participants from different parts of the world that were attending the Festival. They helped us with the language, the culture, the food and accommodation. In 2 weeks we got a whole idea about Seoul while visiting many interesting places such as, temples, famous markets, Taekwondo class, and ended up organizing an international evening where every foreigner showed about their country and culture to Korean students.

My last two weeks when I joined the work camp I was completely thrilled with the project. I can say now that I had “the timeChilean volunteer in Korea of my life”. Participating in the volunteer program changed they way I am. Teaching has never been an easy task but teaching English to handicapped Korean kids was the best experience I have had so far. I participated in the English summer camp at Myeong Jin school in Chuncheon, located 2 hours north-east from Seoul. I lived 14 days in a room of the school with 15 campers, 8 Koreans and 7 participants from other parts of the world (Mexico, Colombia, Estonia, Spain, etc.) who all together became a huge and close family. We taught about our country, art, science and English to blind and low vision kids. It was a very touching experience because it was the first time for me to be exposed to blind kids. I did not know how to treat them and communication was also difficult because they didn’t know English at all. But they were so friendly and smart that we found a way to express ourselves and had and amazing time together. I ended up falling in love with every kid and was very difficult to leave Korea behind. This experience has already showed me how much we can do for the people that are in need of companionship and a little bit of care. Even though I have always been involved in volunteer work in Chile, the program in Korea has marked a before and an after in my life.’

I want to thank Experiment Chile and also IWO office in Korea for this wonderful opportunity.”
German Andrés. Chilean Volunteer in Korea 2009.

Volunteers from AIPC Pandora and ERDT/Share - Javier Rull has been the first volunteer from Spain to participate in EIL Chile projects. He worked for a children's shelter home and was completely moved by the experience. He is planning to come back to Chile as soon as possible to continue on the same or a new project. EIL Chile was very happy with this and will continue working with AIPC Pandora to welcome more Spanish volunteers.

The first ERDT volunteer, Ivonne Matos, successfully finished her volunteer program at the National Museum of Natural History in Santiago, Chile. Her past experiences in zoology and spiders contributed a lot to the museum demands. During her six months, she faced big challenges: to develop some educational modules and teach school students about museum collections. She was a skillful and committed volunteer who taught us a lot about working with qualified volunteers. Placing her at the museum was a great match which has left the EIL name and volunteers once again at the top of the list.

2009 - 2010 Weltwärts volunteers in Chile - Last August, a group of 9 enthusiastic volunteers sent from EIL Germany attended the first week seminar and training offered by EIL Chile in Santiago to prepare them for the year they will spend in Chile volunteering. Host communities in the cities of La Serena, Santiago and Temuco were happily expecting their arrival. Host families are more than happy to have this opportunity to share with ‘foreigners’ and learn from each other. Very soon, volunteers become Weltwartsmembers of the family and they fall in love with Chile and its people as it was the case of the last group of volunteers from the 2008/2009 program who just said goodbye to Chile last July in a very difficult and emotional moment. The continuation of this program has let EIL Chile office interact with past and current volunteers in a very interesting and fruitful way to exchange and improve experiences

Chinese and German Volunteers in La Pintana - Shanghai Xu Bo Art and Culture Exchange from China sent their first Chinese volunteer to Chile, Kitty Yu. The EIL Chile office staff was particularly grateful for the efforts and great volunteer work carried out by Kitty. She did not know a word in Spanish when she arrived and ended up teaching primary school students in fluent Spanish at the end of her program. The whole school community, students and parents participated in the closing ceremony organized by the volunteer to grant certificates of attendance to the Chinese cultural workshop she developed. Students performed dialogs in Chinese and two full classes sang traditional Chinese song to the audience - a program initiative which gave great results in our mission to bring people and cultures together. After Kitty’s departure, the challenge has come to a German Volunteer who is currently supporting the school work and also ready to start a German cultural workshop with the students from the same school. We would like to thank both Shanghai Xu Bo Art and Cultural Exchange and EIL Germany for their constant support that has allowed us the continuation of these educational programs in a sustainable way.

Support networks to promote intercultural learning among volunteers - Creating networks with past and current volunteers has resulted in a great cultural learning experience. EIL Chile has fostered the exchange of multinational volunteers while in Chile to achieve this goal. Volunteers visit each other, participate in seminars, keep contact in social or cultural activities so they can feel themselves as part of the contributing international network that travels with a common goal. These intercultural learning experiences are effective tools to facilitate self and in country immersion much easier.

New : High School exchange to Chile - 2010 will be the year when Chile will open its doors to high school exchange students. Students from all over are welcomed and will be offered a special 4 week language training and orientation program if they have no previous knowledge of Spanish. EIL Chile will deliver program materials and get them to International office very soon to share with FEIL members.

Submitted by Claudio LeRoy, EIL Chile

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YES Korea - Summer Abroad and NSLI -Y

Summer Abroad - YES International was proud to host 11 wonderful Experimenters to Korea- 10 high school students and 1 local leader from June 30th to July 27th. This was the first inbound program for YES International and much effort was made in arranging and implementing the diverse cultural programs. The program consisted of language learning to experiencing diverse aspects of Korea and also visit to 5 different Korean cities of Seoul, Seosan, Jeonju, Imsil and Sokcho. Throughout the month-long program, the Experimenters have done community service, learnt the language, interacted with Korean high school students, lived with host families, toured different cities in Korea and were fully exposed to Korean culture.

For the first week in Korea, the Experimenters visited the DMZ (Demiliterized Zone) and had a lecture on peace to better understand the North and South Korean issues. They also met with children defected from North Korea and taught English. In addition to this, the Experimenters also helped to pack and deliver lunch boxes for elders and low-income families.

For second week, the Experimenters went down south to Seosan for Templestay Program. Programs in the temple included attending Buddhist ceremonial service, Seon meditation, Buddhist meals in traditional bowls, communal work around the temple ground, and many more. Collage

After the Templestay Program, the Experimenters went to Jeonju where they stayed for 2 weeks. In Jeonju, they took lived with host families, took Hanguel, Korean language classes, learnt to play with Jango, Korean traditional instrument, and also experienced wearing Hanbok, Korean traditional costume. During their stay in Jeonju, the Experimenters visited a local high school and spent time interacting with Korean high school students to share about the difference in cultures. Over the weekend, the Experimenters went to Imsil, a small town outside Jeonju. At Imsil, the Experimenters assisted with farm work by catching snails by the paddy field. On the last night with the host families, the Experimenters entertained the host families by dancing to the Korean pop song “Sorry, Sorry”, a major hit amongst Korean teenagers, performing a short skit in Korean and playing Jango.

On the final week, the group went on a trip to Sokcho, a city that attracts not only international tourists but locals as well for its fine fishery products and natural surroundings. The Experimenters hiked Mount Seorak, one of the most beautiful mountains in Korea and cooled themselves rafting in Naerim River.

Although the programs were tough- sleeping on hard wooden ground, sometimes having to get up at 3:30 in the morning, eating spicy food, all Experimenters were able to complete the 4 weeks without any accidents. YES International is proud of all 10 Experimenters who participated and looks forward to meeting with more adventurous teens.

YES International will be reinforcing more peace-related activities for the 2010 Summer Program. We hope to meet with more high school students who are interested in peace, Korean, and anyone who hopes to see the world outside their hometown!

“ I loved my experience this summer as an Experimenter. I can honestly say that this was the best summer of my life. I learned a lot, saw many great sites, and met amazing people! I learned about the relationship between North and South Korea, I learned about cultural difference between South Korea and the United States, and most importantly I learned about South Korea and its people. I learned about these things through excursions, various activities, and through interesting conversations with Korean people.” - Inayah Bristol, Experimenter to Korea 2009


NSLI-Y - 37 lucky American students won a full scholarship offered by the US Department of State under the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) to Korea. 20 students came for only 6 weeks during the summer, 10 students were accepted to study in Korea for a semester and 7 students were accepted to study for a year in local high school.

The NSLI-Y Korea program is unique as it is a full scholarship program including tuition, transportation, meals, and even mobile phones! The program consists of intensive language classes, cultural immersion programs and also admission in a Korean high school. YES International was chosen as the local organizer in Korea to host the 37 American students. collage2

The NSLI-Y Korea program officially began on July 7th with an Opening Ceremony at the Information Resource Center of the American Embassy. Many guests were present to welcome the students- principals from various high schools, officials from the American Embassy, and Directors from different organizations who were supporting the NSLI-Y Korea Program. After the Opening Ceremony, an Orientation was held to better prepare the students to meet with Korean families and peers. There were also visits to a beautiful palace and watching a wonderful traditional performance. At the end of the first week, the students met with their host families and began their Korean life.

For 6 weeks from July 13 to August 21, the students attended intensive Korean Language Classes at the Korean Language Institute of Seoul National University, one of the most prestigious language institutes in Korea. In addition to the language classes, the NSLI-Y students also participated in diverse cultural immersion programs in the afternoons. Some of the programs included learning Taekwondo- Korean traditional martial art, learning about Korean music and learning to play with traditional instruments and mask-dancing, learning to cook Korean cuisine and Korean crafts and lots more. Other afternoons were spent developing friendship with Korean teenagers by working in groups and some were spent watching exciting performances.

All the students lived in different parts of Seoul and getting around using public transportation wasn’t easy. Some of them ended up in different areas of town and not in the meeting points as they got confused with the similar names of subways stations. For the first couple of weeks, many of the students had to adjust to eating spicy food and often had upset stomach because of eating spicy food regularly. There were also some cultural misunderstandings initially between the host families and the NSLI-Y students but they were quickly overcome by efforts made.

Many of the host families who attended the Closing Ceremony, asked the NSLI-Y students returning to America to return to Korea and to those NSLI-Y students moving on to new host families to spend the semester, to return during the winter vacation. After a tearful Closing Ceremony, the NSLI-Y students who were in Korea for the Intensive Program left with fond memories of Korea. The NSLI-Y Korea Program is still on-going, with 17 students placed in 7 different high schools. More information about their adventure in Korea will continue in the next newsletter.

“I am somewhat frustrated at the circumstances that prevent me from staying for longer than the summer. This has been, without a doubt, the most enjoyable and life-changing summer of my life; the worst part will surely be the end. The best part lasted for six weeks.”  - Eric Armstrong, NSLI-Y Korea- Intensive Program Participant

“I am sad that my oblivious self did not realize the wonderful program I had gotten into and didn’t sign up for a longer stay. I plan to revisit Korea someday, for further studying and…who knows, maybe even to find a job and live in Korea!” -Kimberly Bartos, NSLI-Y Korea- Intensive Program Participant

“I will never forget summer 2009 because it is truly one of the most magnificent summers of my life.  This trip has augmented my love and passion for foreign languages. I will continue to study Korean to the degree where I can comfortably converse with people the next time I visit Korea.” -Yalan Wu, NSLI-Y Korea- Intensive Program Participant

Submitted by Jihyun Park, YES International

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A DAY IN THE LIFE OF CHILECITO

Creativity and Flexibility.  That is what was required this summer in Argentina when plans for a multi-national group project to create a community garden for the families of Isonza school students had to be moved to Chilecito La Rioja and the anticipated group became one very special volunteer named Doreen Schloffel from Experiment Germany. Doreen spent four weeks this summer working with the people of Chilecito to turn a dry and rocky patch into the foundation of a greenhouse for the community's soup kitchen. Below is Doreen's inspired and inspiring report.

"I just landed at Frankfurt Airport and a sadness comes upon me. This time the sadness about leaving Argentina behind is stronger than my happiness about returning home.

Now how did a day go for me? After breakfast I took my bike and went downhill from Chilecito to the village San Miguel. A “permanent threat” were the many dogs on the side of the street that started running after me whenever I passed by. There were ways to distract them, e.g. stopping abruptly and screaming at them. But in the beginning it seemed so strange and scary.

Doreen at work on the garden and greenhouseThe site where the la huerta was build was right next to a beautiful white church. I was helped by 2 men from the municipal building the wall and in the beginning another young man named Cristian helped me digging out all the stones. The ground was full of stones and very dry soil. We had to dig off a few layers to remove all the stones and get to a layer where it became more soil. For that we used pick-axes, wheelbarrows and shovels. In Argentina man with their sons do such work, usually not the women. Women do not do physical labor. For those man I worked with it was very strange to see me with the tools. They had to stop and discussed it over their morning coffee when I started with the pick-ax.

After the morning at the la huerta I went back to Chilecito to Bettys house for lunch. All the kids coming home from school would greet me and say “Hola Seño”. After a week it felt as if I had been living in Chilecito for an eternity, people greeting you in the street and the familiarity of a certain routine each day. I also got used to going uphill the entire journey on the way back to Chilecito. Honestly, I do not want to know how much more weight I would have gained not going uphill with the bike as my twice daily workout. Lunch and dinner too were always so delicious and I very much appreciate the good food.

In the afternoon we would go to the “Casita de Quirquincho” and play with the children, entertain them and cook a meal for them. Alternatively, I took 4-5 children with me to help me at the la huerta. They were very eager to work and could work hard as adults. Just sometimes they got distracted.

The language proofed to be difficult, especially with the heavy dialect spoken in Chilecito. Many people spoke very fast and that made it hard to understand them.
The children often tried to “abuse” my bad Spanish asking in different ways if they could have my bicycle. It was very funny to see that happening over and over again, especially after they knew I did not want them to take the bike. They kept trying by asking in many different indirect ways and we had a good laugh about it.Doreen with a new friend

Although I only spent 4 weeks in Argentina and 3 of those weeks in Chilecito in the province La Rioja, it feels like it has been an eternity. I had time to meet lots of people, explore their culture and heritage and get to know the land and its people. My homestay at Betty Aguileras house (known in Chilecito as the “Teacher”) could not have been more authentically teaching me the Argentine way of life and the daily routine of its people. I am eternally thankful for the chance to experience real life in Argentina and gain so many impressions. Not only became I aware of why life happens in the evening hours. The midday heat – even now when it was the end of winter in Argentina – is nearly unbearable with more than 30 degree Celsius on some days. Only after 5 in the afternoon, when temperatures become more comfortable, the people are drawn unto the streets, to the Plaza and the shops open up again. Then it gets really busy. Before that people appreciate the siesta. One can get used to siesta really quickly ;-)"

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Federation Members attend Quality and Evaluation Management Conference in Berlin

What is Quality? And how do you prove that you are offering a good volunteer program? What does a good evaluation system look like and how do you find out about the impact of your programs on all the different parties involved? These and other questions where discussed at the QUIFD conference in Berlin in Mid-September among representatives of volunteer organizations from Germany and abroad as well as researchers, university professors and government officials.  Partners attending the QUIFD in Berlin

Alex Bleach (SASTS/Experiment South Africa), Dupe Davis (SYTO/Experiment Nigeria), Ana Klaehn and Bettina Wiedmann (Experiment Germany) were there to represent their own organizations as well as to also present our Federation Volunteer network. As a result from this conference, everyone agreed that Quality Assurance Systems are something we all have to include in our work and that it is necessary to have a system in place that includes all parties involved, namely the sending and host organizations and their in-country partners as well as the participants. For more information, please feel free to contact Alex, Dupe, Ana or Bettina. return to top

SASTS "Dlala Nathi" 2010 Soccer Programme

With the 2010 FIFA World Cup fast approaching, all eyes are on South Africa as we gear up to host the event. Cape Town, an official host city has been abuzz with preparations to welcome the world. As part of our new offerings for next year SASTS has introduced an exciting sports related programme coinciding with the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

We have assembled a unique programme which provides our partners with the opportunity to recruit their own teams to volunteer on our “Dlala Nathi” 2010 Soccer Programme. The two-three week “Dlala Nathi” (come play with us) Soccer Programme will be structured around local youth using sports education as an essential vehicle in conveying positive messages and life skills which leave a lasting impact long after the last goal has been scored. Volunteers will assist in setting up and training teams for the Street Soccer tournaments, facilitating sports activities and life skills initiatives as well as receiving specific sports related training before the programme starts.

A trip to Cape Town would not be complete without experiencing sights and sounds that our city has to offer. As part of the programme, volunteers will be able to enjoy the scenic view of the Peninsula, Winelands, enjoy an authentic township experience as well as visiting the whale watching capital of South Africa, Hermanus. For those with adventure at heart, we have provided an optional 3 day tour at the end travelling along the pristine Garden Route, stopping at places of interest such as the Karoo town of Oudtshoorn infamous for its ostrich farms and Cango Caves, the ADDO Elephant Sanctuary and the Tsitsikamma National Park. Please contact SASTS for more details regarding this exciting new programme offering!!

Submitted by Narieman Bohardien, SASTS

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Update from the UN by Connie Crosson FEIL UN Representative

It is slow during the summers at the UN, with few meetings and no briefings, however, it seems to have ended with a flurry of activity at the 62nd Annual DPI/NGO Conference On Disarming for Peace and Development, held in Mexico City, Sept 9-11, 2009. Today, I received this email from the UN Department of Public Information (DPI):

Dear NGOs,

I am very happy to inform you that the Government of Mexico presented the Declaration, Disarming for Peace and Development, from the 62nd Annual DPI/NGO Conference to the Security Council today, September 24, 2009. This is a historical moment for civil society. Congratulations to all!

I can think of no better way to report to you on the happenings of the UN. Most Declarations are not so quickly registered at the UN, let alone the Security Council! This is the swift action result of over 1,300 representatives of 200 non-governmental organizations from 70 countries coming together to meet at the 62nd Annual UNDPI/NGO Conference. Plenary sessions featured prominent speakers on the issues of Peace, Development and Disarmament, such as Jody Williams, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, former experimenter and SIT graduate, Freida Berrigan, Mayor Akiba of Hiroshima, the founder and chair of Mayors for Peace, Sergio Duarte and Roberto Zamora. More that 200 student volunteers, many multi-lingual, provided valuable assistance and help to the conference participants. Over the course of three days and evenings, 24 workhops were held in the late afternoons.

Representing Federation EIL at the conference were Carmen Salmoran, Cristina Sanchez and Margarita Sanchez from Programas Educativos Interculturales, A.C, (PEI) and Joshua Tripp from LAMAT.

Carmen Salmoran reported quite eloquently (and I quote her here), that going to the Conference “helped me to confim that it is important to keep fighting for "ideals" such as the promotion of peace through understanding and the creation of opportunities for young people to develop intercultural skills. Personally, I think there was a lack of practical ideas or actions to promote among the young people that take part in our programs. Although at the end of each workshop participants would discuss actively some ideas and actions mentioned, those ideas seem to not leave the “speech arena” and have the chance to become a reality. It is not about young people imitating fancy trends, but about young people learning how to identify threats and to learn to defend their right to live a life free of violence. What can we do to help them do that? I can only say now that I will keep working hard with PEI, and after meeting former Experimenters in the Conference, I confirmed for myself that in one way or another, our work leaves a mark in some lives.”

She wrote about meeting other “Experimenters”, including Jody Williams, founder of International Campaign to Ban Landmines; Juliana Jasso, national secretary of Business Professional Women; and Beth Adams, WILPZ Disarm! Committee, and many other men and women who work to improve the lives of street children, fighting for the rights of prostitutes and their children, teachers who provide options for for young people in trouble with the law, and defenders of human rights, etc. She ended with, "We may not be able to work with their projects directly but I think that to keep in touch with them will be important. Maybe inviting them sometimes to share their goals with our participants in different events will help PEI to keep contact with the reality of different Mexicos out there; to learn from experiences acquired in different social contexts than ours, and to develop strategies to keep “the construction of peace” at the heart of our programs."

I thank Carmen for her inspiring and reality-based report and call to action for us all! There are many resources on peace and development at the UN conference site. and you can click here for a PDF of Jody Williams' speech at the Conference. I am looking forward to the exciting coming year at the UN, discovering links for communication with EIL and other NGOs, resources for your programs and anything else I can do for you from NYC.

Connie Crosson, Sept. 25, 2009

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EIL Ireland Travel Award Winners Attend Governor's Institute at SIT

The Governor's Institute of Vermont offers high school students intellectually challenging programs in the arts, cultural affairs, current events, engineering, science, information technology, and more. EIL Ireland's Travel Grants provided scholarships to five Irish participants for the program Current Issues and Youth Activism which was held at the SIT Graduate Institute this summer. The twelve day program included discussion groups on topics such as Social Justice and Leadership, discussions with key Vermont politicians, teambuilding challenges, a mock UN and cultural activities. The travel award winners wrote blog posts on the EIL Ireland website about their experiences at the Institute. Here are a few excepts and links to the full posts:

"My experience at the Governor’s Institute could be described in any number of superlatives and I am so grateful to EIL for giving me this opportunity. It was life-changing and inspiring. Not once did we feel excluded and the participants and leaders embraced our differences and welcomed our international perspectives. It gave me new ways to look at issues, it broadened my intellectual appetite and I now want to learn as much as I can about how different societies operate, about politics and economics and how the problems of the world can be solved. I may sound overly idealistic but how can things improve without aiming to improve them? This camp inspired and empowered every one of the participants to make change. We discovered what we are passionate about and we were given the skills necessary to deal with these issues." Emily McCormack

"To speak with perfect candor I believe that I learned more from the leaders and other participants than I could have ever learned from any politician or text book. Every time I sat down to lunch or dinner or even on the front lawn I learned something new, not always just about burning political issues but about people as well. The sixty two students and all the staff were quite an eclectic (and electric) group of people who were defined by their differences and united by many similarities. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to have been able to work with a team of people with such strength of character and clarity of purpose – they really were and continue to be a source of inspiration." Edith Delaney

Click here to access their full blog posts and posts from other Travel Grant winners who attended the Institute.

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EIL Japan and PIEE Finalize Merger

The New EIL Japan started on June 1st, 2009, merging with PIEE, as announced at the GM in Morocco this spring. A revival is to be expected by a mutual supplement and a drastic rationalization of operations and expenditures. Some new main policies and improvements have been decided and already put into practice, but some are still under discussion.

The annual general assembly of the 53-year old EIL Japan held in Tokyo on May 30th unanimously made the final decision of its merger with the 25-year old PIEE, the Program of International Educational Exchange. PIEE has almost the same ideals as EIL Japan, but the former is characterized by its emphasis on longer term exchange programs while the latter on shorter term ones. This means both can well supplement each other, especially when we both have a similar difficulty in management.

The EIL assembly also decided that the name and office of EIL Japan should be kept for the new organization and that EIL Japan should take the leadership, because EIL Japan is a sort of public corporation authorized and supervised by the Ministry of Education of Japan. The assembly also appointed the new board members, showing a change to younger generations.

Dr. Hisatake Naito, the former President of EIL Japan, was elected as President, and Prof Koshiro Nakamura from EIL and Mr. Nobuyuki Fujimoto from PIEE were elected as Vice President, at the first board meeting on June 10th. The meeting also appointed Mr. Koji Satoyoshi as executive director and Mr. Yoshihiro Suzuki as national director.  

Some new main policies and improvements have been decided and already put into practice, but some are still under discussion. The atmosphere of the office is very nice and the staff is working energetically. Yet this summer, to our great regret, the new type of influenza inflicted an unexpectedly big damage on our short-term exchange programs, and we are now shifting our emphasis to the next year longer-term programs.   

We would like to ask each of the Federal EIL Members to support our New EIL Japan to revive and develop more than ever. Best wishes from all the members of EIL Japan.

Koshiro Nakamura,Vice President, EIL Japan

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Korean Partners visit EIL Ireland

EIL had the privilege of welcoming Saerom Lee from YES International Korea for her first ever visit to Ireland. Saerom has been working closely with EIL on our Secondary School Programme in Ireland. This August EIL will be welcoming 6 new Korean students and 6 returning students from YES who have been placed in various host communities throughout Ireland.

Saerom from YES Korea at EIL IrelandAfter meeting all the EIL staff in Cork, Saerom was able to visit one of our host communities in Castleisland, Co. Kerry where several of her students have been placed. She met with the Kerry local coordinator, Lillian Cronin, as well as two host families.  We were also able to organise a private tour of Castleisland Community College even though it was officially closed for the summer holidays. Although her stay in Ireland was brief, she was able to learn a lot about what Ireland has to offer exchange students, as well as teach us about specific cultural challenges Korean students face when living in Ireland.

EIL believes that a strong relationship between the sending and receiving offices is crucial to the running of successful programmes and we are very grateful to Saerom and YES International for taking the time to come and visit Ireland to get a first hand experience of how the programme is run and help in making suggestions for future improvements.

Pictured here with the Individuals Department in a typical Korean photo pose: Genevieve O'Connor, Brendan Kelleher, Saerom Lee and Anton Kieffer.

Kevin Hickey, EIL Ireland

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Update from Isonza School Argentina

We are writing to you to offer a short update on the latest developments at the Isonza School! Our names are Andrew Hollar and Robyn Levine. We are two students from the United States in a community service-based scholarship program between Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and arranged by EIL Argentina/The Language Experience. For the past two weeks, we lived and worked at the Isonza school teaching the older students basic English and how to use donated laptop computers. We are very excited to share some of the students’ latest accomplishments and to offer some insight into life at the Isonza School, as well.

Thanks to a generous donation, we were able to contribute four power-saving laptop computers to Isonza. After setting up an Internet connection and repairing an older desktop computer, we began teaching groups of 5-7 students on five computers for an hour and a half everyday. This hands-on approach proved extremely successful, and by the end of the two weeks, the students were able to use many Microsoft programs, research using search engines, and communicate through Skype. We hope that this technology will offer an outlet for the students to enhance their schoolwork, explore their interests, and communicate more frequently with the generous godparents who support their education.

We also held English classes each day for the same groups of students and were continuously impressed by their enthusiasm for learning the language. During the first week, we taught the basics of the language using both traditional instruction and educational games to maintain the students’ interest. By the second week, however, we no longer needed to rely heavily on games because the students remained inquisitive and actively participated in our lessons. During lunch and dinner, the students constantly quizzed us about how to pronounce words, translate songs, and express common phrases in English. We posted small signs with English words and pronunciation tips on objects throughout the school to satisfy some of their curiosity, but it is evident that the students desire further instruction. We wish we could have extended our visit to meet this need, and we are thrilled that this donation will allow the students to continue practicing English!

We cannot express in this short letter how grateful we are for our experience at the Isonza School; the students were intelligent and eager to learn, and they kindly welcomed us into their community right from the beginning.

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News from Morocco

Center of Volunteerism

Thaqafat association in partnership with the United Nations Volunteer Program in Morocco and with representatives of major “Volunteer Involving Organizations (VOIs)” operating in Morocco are working to create the first National Center of Volunteerism in the country.  The main objectives of such a center are to better coordinate initiatives in the field, share knowledge and experiences, celebrate the international Volunteer Day, raise awareness on volunteering for Peace and Development, build our institutional capacity and help set up a national policy on volunteer work. The structure of this center is yet to be discussed in upcoming meetings.

Thaqafat new location!!New office of Thaqafat Association

Thaqafat Association has now moved to its own building separate from the Center for Cross Cultural Learning (CCCL).  The new space is located at:

Avenue Mohamed V, Imp. Louraouia Legzah, N°15,
Medina Rabat, Morocco
Tel: 212 6 61 76 97 62
Fax: 212 5 37 20 23 67

Pictured in the new office from left to right are Youssef El Gourd, Fairouz El Hamdaoui and Farid Bendella.

Planting Trees Project

A tree planting program that seeks to combat desertification in the Middle Atlas Mountains through education and reforestation is an exciting project of which Thaqafat Association is one of its main partners.  Therefore, we are looking forward to hosting volunteers especially for long term periods (2-3 months) to have them involved in this great partnership.  We rely on the efforts of our FEIL and VIP partners to recruit participants for this project! Thank you!

Fairouz El Hamdaoui - Thaqafat Association

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News from Experiment India

Change in Leadership - We are pleased to share with you that from 1st April 2009, we have a new National Secretary General, Ms. Ameeta Desai, and new National Chairman, Shri. Ray Shivaji Nath. They took over from Mr. Kulin Munim and Shri. Amarish Trivedi respectively. All the office bearers of the Indian Experiment placed on record the meritorious services rendered by Mr. Amarish Trivedi ever since the inception of the Indian Experiment in 1962 and bestowed on him the honour of “Chairman Emeritus”. We wish them all the best !!!!

International Family Day - “No matter where you live, brothers are brothers and sisters are sisters. The bonds that keep family close are the same no matter where you are”.

A strong family unit creates a safe, positive and supportive place for all members to thrive. Family and Family values have a special significance in Indian culture and hence the day was celebrated with great enthusiasm by the Indian Experiment at all its centres. At Ahmedabad, the day was celebrated with the residents of “Srimati Maniben Tribovandas Matrugruh”, an old age home for ladies. Concern was expressed over the increasing number of old age homes and it was resolved to work and to give more & more time for the residents of the home by Experiment members.

In Bhilwara, Bombay, Delhi, Dehradun and Patna, various get-togethers and seminars were held to mark the day. A special skit, highlighting family values, was prepared by the children of Experiment members at Dehradun. More then 200 Experiment members came forward and participated in the celebration.

Shalini Chadha, Experiment India

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Visual Arts, Photography and Service in Argentina

An Argentine newspaper in Santa Fe published a write up of the Summer Abroad Group project in the on line edition of El Litoral.com. Thanks to the translation that follows by Celeste Escobar and Carolina Alonso, students at the Teacher's Training School, we are able to present the English version here.

Special School “Dr. J. B. Vázquez”: Artistic and educational project - Pictures taken with cans or the art of educating with no frontiers

Students with mental disabilities learned how to take pictures with the pinhole camera method – taking pictures with cans -, and later showed these pictures in the pedestrian precinct of the city. They were helped by their teachers and by students arrived from the United States.

Through an intercultural initiative that looked forward to promote social integration, students with mental disabilities – mild and moderate – from the School of Special Education No 2008 Dr. J. B. Vázquez learned how to take pictures with a pinhole camera, and showed them in the San Martín street - a pedestrian precinct. In the project – financed by “Asociación Argentina del Experimento de Convivencia Internacional” Experiment in International Living in Argentina – worked the teachers belonging to the school and a group of 13 high school students from the United States. These students arrived in our city accompanied by a tutor as part of a program of cultural exchange.

The experience was both artistic and educational, but it was also much more than that: the children shared pleasant moments with the foreign students and together got to know different places of the city and take pictures of them; they socialized, integrated, felt both protected and protagonists. In that sense the project was a complete success.

“Everything started after we presented last year this initiative to the Experiment Association. This international entity promotes cultural interchanges so they called us and asked if we could receive North American kids - between the ages of 15 and 18 - to work as volunteers in this project of pinhole cameras", Carina Bordón, a teacher of the Vázquez school and prime mover of the initiative explained to "El Litoral" newspaper. “From them we learned about pinhole cameras, and we taught them how to treat children with mental disabilities”, she recounted.

The cultural interchange experience was very enlightening for the foreign students but it was more so for the kids at the Vázquez school. “For them, sharing with those kids that came from so far away and with such different realities, socializing with words, gestures and emotions, playing ball and making jokes, etc. came to be very emotive... It was such an important experience for the kids in our institution that it's difficult to realize the dimension of it" stressed Susana Rosati, another teacher that worked in the project.

Teachers pointed out that such an artistic and educational project could develop in disabled children their healthier emotions and their communicational and sensorial skills. “And above all, the fact that they had the courage to tell everyone what the pinhole cameras project and actually taking pictures were like. They, disabled kids themselves, told people walking by in the pedestrian precinct how was it that they took the photos and what the process entailed,” teachers said. “Together with the children, we visited the Historic Quarter, the dovecote in Colón Square and downtown. To get out on the street and interact socially gave them strength; it brought them back part of their self confidence. It made the sadness and angst with which they live everyday go away. We are positive that our kids can now say We are feeling fine. We are happy”, teachers concluded.A student from Vazquez School explains how the pinhole camera works

THE PINHOLE CAMERA - What is it? How does it work?
Vanesa Benítez and Luciano Vallejos are two students from Vázquez School who, although suffering from a mild mental disability, could explain very fluently –and with great smiles on their faces- what the process of the pinhole camera –or taking pictures with cans- is like.

In order to obtain a pinhole camera picture, first you have to paint the inside of a can (such as the powdered milk one) with synthetic black paint, then you have to bore a tiny hole (pinhole) in it, which you will later cover with black insulating tape; after that you place photographic paper inside the can (this should be done in a very specific way) and you close the can. Once you have made all this you have to move the tape aside and place the can with the tiny hole towards the object you want to take a picture of. You should leave it like this for 1 minute and 40 seconds (without moving the object) so that lights get in and “stick” to the paper upside down. Now, you have to cover the hole with the tape and take the can with the paper to a dark room. “It has to be real dark because otherwise the paper will expose, it will burn”, kids explained to us with that wise self assurance from childhood. That is how you get a negative, and after the developing process, you will get an artistic though rudimentary photo.

People passing by, in the photo above, looked at the pictures taken by kids with the pinhole camera process with great amazement. The pinhole camera process is based on the principle of images that are created by rays of light that go through a very tiny hole (pinhole) into a light-proof box thus projecting an inverted image on the opposite side. The rays of light that go through the pinhole hit the opposite wall and produce small circles that, added one by one, will create an inverted image of what is outside.

To read the original article in Spanish click here.

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Board Members Report from Switzerland

From the 2nd until the 5th of September, Rashid Toefy (President of Federation EIL) and Bettina Wiedmann (Vice President of Federation EIL) were invited to take part in the 5th World Ageing and Generations Congress in Sankt Gallen, Switzerland. The aim of the World Ageing & Generations Congress is to address important topics related to demographic change and its effect on the labour market and social security, on health issues, on the development of new products and markets and on changing lifestyles in society. Besides the fact that it became clear once again that demographic change influences our field of work and that it is an important time to focus on the 50+ market, the congress also provided many great opportunities to network and to increase the visibility of the Experiment name.

Rashid and Bettina also used the chance to meet with Martina Schmitz and her husband Markus for dinner and for a quick update on how things are moving along with our new Swiss endeavour. Martina proudly presented the new website for Weltweitblick and is advancing well on the way to seeking membership in the Federation. We are hoping that we will soon have many Swiss participants in our programs again! Pictured above from left, Rashid Toefy, Martina Schmitz, Bettina Wiedmann, and Markus Hugelshofer.

Bettina Wiedmann, Experiment Germany

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Federation EIL General Assembly 2010 - Paris, France 18 – 21 April

The EIL General Assembly brings together the National Directors from our 20 member organizations and provides a forum for doing joint planning and program development and for sharing expertise on important aspects of international education and exchange. Next year's host, CEI / Club des 4 Vents in Paris, are working in conjuction with the International office to plan a successful and productive meeting. More information will be made available over the coming months. View the GA Hotel

UN Habitat - Planning our Urban Future

The United Nations has designated the first Monday of October every year as World Habitat Day. The idea is to reflect on the state of our towns and cities and the basic right of all to adequate shelter. It is also intended to remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat. Read more

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Links of Interest:

Travelling Naturally and Green Earth Guides - Information for Ecologically and Health Oriented Travelers Who Wish to Leave a Small Footprint

UN Economic and Social Council 

UN Millennium project

UNESCO Culture of Peace  

Council of Europe

Every Human Has Rights Campaign

NAFSA Resources for Study Abroad offices

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Federation EIL News