Newsletter 2004-4

Message from the President | PTPI Experiences | PTPI Updates | Calendar of Events | PTPI's World Conference in Baveno, Italy | PTPI's European Conference, Tirana-Albania 2005 | Chapter Reports | As PDF Document | |

Message from the President

Dear friends,

My first duty and privilege is to thank predecessor Ernst Honegger and acknowledge the outstanding leadership he has given us over the last four and a half years. His thorough, practical and "hands-on" approach to the job has meant that many members have met him and enjoyed his company and they will join me in wishing him well for the future.

For myself, I appreciate the honour of being elected and will do my best to merit your confidence.

PTPI's Board of Directors meeting in Baveno in October welcomed Lars' report of growth and progress in the European region and of the opportunities for PTPI's work here that the EU's recent enlargement and the growth of budget air travel brings.

Our regional Annual Meeting was as usual held as part of the Worldwide Conference in Baveno and we enjoyed hearing a number delegates describe the work of their chapters. The members thanked Hans Dieter Robel (Berlin) for his two years excellent work as secretary and elected Dr. Chiara Pedretti (Milan) as his successor.

The Worldwide Conference itself was an enjoyable and simulating event. I was very pleased and proud that our region provided a beautiful and welcoming venue, a tireless and most efficient host committee, some very distinguished contributors and a substantial and lively group of approximately fifty delegates from a wide range of chapters. I hope the European Executive will feel able to continue its policy of awarding grants to assist members in attending international events.

In mid-December, your Executive Committee will meet in Berlin to plan for 2005 particularly for the Annual Meeting from May 13-15 in Tirana. Your delegates at Baveno selected Tirana after a brilliant presentation by the national president Genci Mucaj illustrating the impressive conference facility, attractions of the city, wide range of comfortable accommodation and plans for an enjoyable social programme, all personally verified by our president Ernst Honegger. Travel facilities are constantly improving, so please plan to attend and enjoy the company of our Albanian friends who have loyally supported European meetings in recent years.

As Liz and I prepare to take our first trip on Eurostar to join PTPI Brussels' annual celebration, we send our best wishes to everyone for Christmas and other festivals we celebrate at this time.


Peter Whitby, President of PTPI's European Council

PTPI Experiences

The Kookaburra Expedition of PTPI's Sternberk, Czech Republic Chapter

Australian ExperienceLast summer, PTPI's Sternberk, Czech Republic Chapter organized a two-month project called „Kookaburra Expedition 2004" in cooperation with PTPI's Bunbury, Western Australia Chapter. For the young chapter members, this trip to Australia has been a great experience and their enthusiasm shows in this report.

When saying goodbye to our friends and parents at the Šternberk railway station on 28th June 2004, we finally felt that our dream was coming true – our journey to Australia, which we had been preparing for two years, was about to start.
There were five members of the expedition, aged 15-18 (Helča Pšejová, Pavča Maitnerová, Marek Kašík, Jirka Schneider, Honza Picek) and two leaders (Helča Metelková a Peťa Blažek) of the children's club PS Plejády Šternberk and PTPI's Šternberk Chapter. And we all were full of energy and enthusiasm to spend our summer holidays in quite a special way.

Our destination was the far-away farm "Ferguson Farmstay" situated near the town of Bunbury. Our plan was to build a 2.5 km long instructive path for Australian children there. And we managed! Thanks to our boys' strength and muscles we made and dug in 12 posts for informative boards, we built a wooden summer-house, constructed seven bridges over the streams, and placed a guidepost on the highest point of the walk. Girls helped to line the walk with stones and logs.

The walk was named Kookaburra´s walking trail and you can find there (if you should ever come to this part of the world) 12 informative boards with photos, drawings and texts about Australian fauna and flora. Two bird-brothers „Kooka" and „Burra" are the guides of the entire walk. They try to show and explain (in an easy and funny way) many secrets of nature to children.
PTPI Sternberk - Australian Experience

The texts are in English, of course, so you can imagine that two years of preparations are quite a short time for such a task.

More than 50 people and children came to the opening of the walk. Some of them came from Perth, others from Singapur and Japan, but most of them were from Bunbury and its surroundings. Some Czechs living in Australia had learnt about the expedition from radio and newspapers, so we had a chance to use our mother tongue after quite a long time.

We baked traditional Czech bread and prepared salt and water, which is the Czech custom to greet people. Moravian cakes were a great success, and the guests also loved our folk songs. They could taste our mettlesome plum brandy, too. Australian people were amazed by our traditions, and we were really proud of the country we come from.

We also became guests in Australian families once, so we could learn about their way of life. And we found out that they are really friendly and very relaxed people. We travelled across a large part of south-western Australia, we visited national parks with wonderful eucalyptus trees, climbed a hill, went to the sea to say hello to dolphins and whales, we experienced how vast and flat this country is, and we spent one excellent and free day at an Australian school.

Every day, kangaroos came to say good morning to us at the farm. We made new friends, and we met a lot of interesting people. We spoke the strange foreign language -sometimes even among the seven of us. Last but not least, we learned from Australian people, and they learned from us.

I think it was a great experience. And since our new friends liked it very much, they will certainly come to visit us in Šternberk, Uničov, Troubelice and other places. Even kangaroos may come...

THANK YOU to our parents, friends and members as well as leaders of the children's club Plejády Šternberk, members of PTPI's Šternberk and Bunbury, Western Australia Chapters, the company Topgal Šternberk, and all the people who helped to prepare the expedition. Many thanks to Helča, Pavča, Mara, Jirka, Honza, and especially Peťa for their enthusiasm and support which helped our dream come true.

Helča Metelková, President of PTPI's Sternberk Chapter

Danes Crossing America 2004

A delegation of PTPI Denmark travelled through the United States last September, visiting several PTPI chapters on the way.

In 1998, I visited the United States for the first time and was welcomed by Mary Yates from PTPI's Greater New Jersey Chapter. She told us to travel like a traveller and not a tourist, in other words not to just follow the stream but to be open-minded and interested. That was exactly what we had in mind when leaving Denmark. On September 12th, a group of 15 adults left Denmark along with me as their tour leader.

First stop was Washington D.C. where we stayed in a hotel for three nights. The first days we spent exploring this beautiful city. We went to Arlington Cemetery with the Kennedy gravesites and to Arlington House where General Lee lived. We went to Capitol Hill, National Air and Space Museum, Union Station, Vietnam Veteran Wall, Abraham Lincoln Memorial, Reflecting Pond and, and, and... Unfortunately we couldn't visit the White House for security reasons; we just had to walk by instead. All the museums and interesting buildings in Washington D.C. are lying like pearls on a string. But with only three days we couldn't possibly see it all, so when we left the US capital we all agreed on coming back.

Our next stop was Green Bay, Wisconsin. We were welcomed warmly by host families with Danish flags and hugs and kisses. Had there been a sense of nervousness at all, it disappeared immediately. We spent five wonderful days with our hosts. Some went to an Amish farm; some went up "the thumb" and spent a day dipping their feet in the bay. Some went browsing through the city and some had cozy lunches in the countryside.

PTPI's Green Bay Chapter arranged a very special day for the whole group. We started out visiting the enthusiastic mayor James Smith of Green Bay and even Dave Hansen, the state-senator, found time to drop by and meet us. After our visit to City Hall we went to Denmark! Not back home, but to a small town south east of Green Bay. In Denmark we visited Denmark State Bank and had a delicious lunch at Lorrie's Restaurant. We had our photo taken and ended up on the front page of The Denmark Press. Time passes by so quickly when you're having fun and soon we had to say goodbye. We flew off, this time we were heading for Las Vegas.

In Las Vegas, we really had a tight schedule. We landed at one o'clock PM but at 4.30 PM we took off again for a flight across Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and Grand Canyon. It was a very special trip with an amazing view. At the casino I won $52 and spent but $10 ...I was good! The night was young, as they say, and cruising the huge luxurious hotels is a must, when in Las Vegas. I was most taken by The Venetian with its canals and gondolas. Although the night seemed to go on forever, we had an early start the next morning, so we turned in at Circus Circus our hotel. At Hoover Dam the next morning, we crossed the state border between Nevada and Arizona on foot before flying off to San Francisco.

In San Francisco we had a chartered bus ready to take us sightseeing. Golden Gate Bridge, Twin Peaks, Alcatraz, the sea lions at Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39, the Bay Bridge, the Golden Gate Park and China Town just to mention a few of the many things we saw on our way.

Last stop before returning home to Denmark was a homestay for five days in Stockton. PTPI's Stockton/San Joaquin Chapter organized a wonderful tour to Calavera State Park for us, where we saw Sequoia_trees. We enjoyed walking in the woods and looking at these huge trees. We needed all fifteen of us to reach all the way round just one tree! At Ironstone Vineyard, we had lunch in the nice weather and everybody was in a good mood. We also met the mayor of Stockton in the City Hall and saw the newly renovated Fox Theatre.

Except for this one day, our host families all made different plans for us. Some met here and there and my host family arranged a visit at the Women's Shelter in Stockton (I am on the board at a women's shelter in Denmark). I also spent a weekend at Lake Tahoe. We drove all the way around the lake and enjoyed a delicious dinner at "Queen Tahoe" on the lake. The countryside was so beautiful; one had a hard time believing it was real.

Starting east - ending west, crossing the States has been a wonderful experience. New friendships have been made, old ones renewed, and everywhere we were welcomed warmly by all host families. Thank you so much.

We in Denmark are ready to welcome you at any time; you are hereby invited!

Best wishes

Gunild Bogdahn, Vice President of People to People Denmark

PTPI Updates

Message to PTPI's Young Generation

Dear chapter presidents and members of People to People Europe, I am happy to let you know that the Young Generation movement is growing all over Europe and has wonderful future plans.

During the World Wide and European Conference in Baveno we had some 15 youngsters from Italy, Romania, Switzerland and the United States actively participating. I think that they deserve our most sincere congratulations for their efforts in establishing a future wave of members in our organization. Further more, the European Board with the help and support of our director, Lars Poignant, will strongly encourage their presence at the next European Conference in Tirana 2005.

As for our future projects, I am happy to let you all know that Lars and Verena have planned a Study Session for young people in Budapest next year. This will be a great opportunity for them to learn and to exchange ideas in a professional environment. Please let the word out and encourage the potential participants to apply or join our chapters all over Europe.

In the end, I want to suggest that you organize special events or activities for attracting young people to our mission. We have PowerPoint presentations and other materials available for the chapters interested. Please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or the European Office for any type of questions or support regarding the matter.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a most wonderful New Year!

Bogdan Tamba, Youth Coordinator of People to People Europe

Young US member seeks Internship

Jennie Gies is a member of PTPI's Midland Chapter in Michigan, USA. She is very interested in an internship in either Germany or Switzerland. She is in her last semester of university studies with a degree in public policy from James Madison College at Michigan State University. She has had two and half years of German language classes at university.

Jennie's family would be willing to reciprocate in hosting. They tell us that they live out in a farming area of Michigan, not a major city in the U.S. But, a nice area of the Michigan state.

Please contact the PTPI Europe Office for more details if you can assist Jennie.

Publications: People Magazine

All chapters are encouraged to contribute to the next issue of the annually published People Magazine. You may send reports of your activities and experiences as well as pictures to Cindy Spake at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . The editorial deadline is January 17, 2005.

European Executive Committee – Meeting in Berlin

The newly elected European Executive Committee held its first meeting in Berlin on December 11th. Among other things the following items were discussed and decided on during the one day session;

European Conference in Tirana in May

The EEC carries joint responsibility with the PTPI's Tirana Organising Committee. The budget and program was discussed. It was also decided to differentiate the prices for youth and non-youth participants.

Chapter Development in Europe

The chapter status was discussed. It was suggested to close two inactive chapters in Europe.

European Programs

For the International Visitors Program it the EEC asked to have an complement to the existing PTPI Homestay Manual to use in Europe.

Public Relations

It was discussed how PTPI could reach a larger audience.

Youth Programs

Youth members will have good opportunities next year. The European Conference will have a special youth component and there is a Youth Study Session planned for fall 2005. The EEC also wanted to make sure that the activities of the Student Chapters should be made available to the EEC and European chapters. It was suggested to include a special section in the Newsletter about youth and youth programs.

Training course for European Chapter Presidents in Tirana, Albania

The European Office is planning a three-day training course for PTPI chapter presidents in Europe. The aim of the training course is to support the chapter presidents and give them valuable information for future exchange projects. We want to reward chapter presidents for their commitment and give them a possibility to acquire valuable skills that are not only useful for their volunteer work with PTPI, but also for them personally and for their professional careers. At the same time, this will be a chance to meet the presidents of recently established chapters.

The training will be on "Tolerance in Intercultural Cooperation – building bridges between local associations". Different approaches to overcome intolerance, stereotypes and prejudice will be presented. Participants will also learn about various fundraising possibilities for their future projects. They will have a chance to get to know other European PTPI chapter presidents, to discuss problems encountered previously as well as new approaches and to make plans for the future. Presidents should be ready to present the results of the training course to their chapter members afterwards: They will receive all material distributed during the seminar and will be assisted by the European office staff.

In order to be able to finance this project, we have applied for funds from the Council of Europe. If the money is granted, travel costs will be reimbursed and accommodation as well as board will be covered for all participants. The training course will be held in conjunction with the European Conference in Tirana, Albania between May 9 and 12, 2005.

We will not receive notice until the end of March / beginning of April concerning funds from the Council of Europe. So there is still a slight chance that the program cannot take place. We still want to invite chapter presidents to sign up for this program or think about a substitute if they cannot attend. It would be great to have all chapters represented at this course! So mark your calendars and let us know if your chapter will send a delegate (by completing the "I am interested" form that has been sent to all chapter presidents). Don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Let's keep our fingers crossed and hope that a high quality seminar for European chapter presidents will precede this year's European Conference in Albania!

Open House in PTPI's European Office, Berlin

PTPI's European office held its third Open House on December 6, 2004. Friends from in and around Berlin and Germany were invited. This event, which started at 16.00 and closed at 22.00, saw a large attendance and participation of people from various professions, ages and national origins. There were 62 participants mainly from Berlin, but also from other countries like Cameroon, Greece, Italy, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. The Scandinavian Glögg was served along side other drinks and snacks.

During the event, PTPI, its programs and activities were presented. Hannelore Büchler of PTPI's Berlin Chapter had prepared an interesting and informative presentation including a display of pictures about her experiences with PTPI in 2004 (conferences, homestays and other cultural experiences). She encouraged the Open House guests to join PTPI. We were also happy about the presence of Bogdan Tamba from Romania who is Youth Coordinator of PTPE. Bogdan had prepared a beautiful PowerPoint presentation of PTPI and guided through it by commenting on the activities and pictures displayed.
We hope that the people who attended the event will stay in touch with PTPI – in any case, we all had a very good time.

Prudence Banseka

Internship in the PTPI European Office, Berlin: Deadline November 6

PTPI continues to offer an internship in its European Office in Berlin. During the last three months, Prudence Banseka, who originally comes from Cameroon, has been a valuable support to our work. We want to use this opportunity to thank her for her help and to welcome our new intern, Dionysis Floratos from Greece.

The next internship periods go from February 14th to May 27th and from May 18th to August 19th, 2005. Deadline for application is one month prior to the starting date. More information on this program can be found on our Web site at

European Newsletter – per e-mail

The European Newsletter is published within PTPI Europe and sent to all chapters and members. It is a good tool to publish chapter reports and updates from PTPI's European Office. The newsletter is also published on the PTPE Web site (

PTPI will continue to send the newsletter per postal mail to all members as it is important that members receive the information. Yet, if you feel it is enough to read the newsletter from the Web site, then we would send a link to you with the address to the recent newsletter. In this way, you will receive the newsletter faster and PTPI would save money.

If you would like to read the European Newsletter on the Web site (from where you can also download a copy), then please send an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Thai Cultural & Humanitarian Program

The Thai Cultural & Humanitarian Program is an exciting opportunity for young adults aged 18 to 24 to combine a humanitarian effort with an intercultural experience. This new mission is dedicated to provide an intensive homestay in a rural Thai village and volunteering to help the villagers in their farms and schools. For three full days, participants will be fully immersed in daily Thai life: living, working, and eating with local Thais. During these three days, the living situation will be very basic While the Thai villagers will not have much in terms of material possessions, their warmth and hospitality is unparalleled! In addition to the three days of humanitarian work, there will also be time for relaxation and sightseeing. A few days on the beautiful island of Koh Samet followed by time in the bustling city of Bangkok will provide participants with a full spectrum of life in Thailand. The opportunities for exchange, education, friendship that will be offered coupled with the humanitarian element will prove extremely fulfilling.

When: August 5 - 16, 2005

Where: Bangkok--Ban Kruat--Koh Samet—Bangkok

Registration Deadline: April 6, 2005

Registration and Information: Online at or by writing to Brooks Herman ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Costs (excluding airfare): Members: $1,850 USD

Non members: $1,950 USD

Maximum number of participants: 25 - All ages

Calendar of Events

When What Who to contact
December 19 Brussels Chapter: Concert with the Chorus "Les Amicroches" Daniel Schaubacher
January 05 Sternberk Chapter: Concert "Zamboši", folk music in Sternberk Gallery  Helena Metelkova
January 13 Brussels Chapter: Visit of the arts exhibition "Sur les routes avec Karel Appel & Rudi Fuchs" Blanche or Christine
January 21 Lucerne Chapter's Annual meeting Anna Bühler
January 30 Chester Chapter: New Year Lunch and Silent Auction Andrew Martin
February 06 Brussels Chapter: Théâtre des Galeries. La Revue 2005! Nicole
February 09 Brussels Chapter: Visit to an African Museum, exhibition on Congo, nature and culture Blanche or Christine
March 02 Brussels Chapter: Visit of the exhibition "La Belgique visionnaire" at Bozar, Palais des Beaux-Arts Blanche or Christine
March 04 Chester Chapter: Music event "USA Spectacular" as part of the scholar music exchange at Kings School Andrew Martin
March 19 PTP Denmark: Annual Meeting Peter Tage
March 19–20 Chester Chapter: Organized visit to Air Traffic Control Manchester Airport Andrew Martin
April 29–May 10 Global Peace Initiative - Egypt 2005 Cindy Baugh
April 30–May 10 Peace Camp - Egypt 2005 (Youth Camp) Brooks Herman
May 13-15 PTPI's European Conference in Tirana, Albania Genci Muca
August 5–16 Thai Cultural and Humanitarian program Brooks Herman
September 7–14 PTPI's Chester Chapter: Visit to PTPI's Lakewood, Colorado Chapter Andrew Martin
September 16 – 18 PTPI's Chester Chapter: Annual Meeting Andrew Martin

PTPI's Worldwide Conference in Baveno, Italy

Conference1 Conference2

During the Worldwide Conference the European Council held its council meeting on October 14th. 83 members attended the event. 20 European and 7 non-European Chapters were present.

At the meeting, new members of the European Executive Committee were elected. Peter Whitby, PTPI's Chester Chapter (President) and Chiara Pedretti, PTPI's Milano Chapter (Secretary).

The council meeting expressed its appreciation for the committed volunteer work of Ernst Honegger and Hans-Dieter Robel, who both resigned from the Executive Committee. Ernst Honegger has severed two terms as president of the European Council. Annick Debien was thanked for her four years as Youth Coordinator on the EEC.

Worldwide Conference Baveno, Italy

European Executive Committee

Office Officer Chapter, Country
President Peter Whitby Chester, England
Secretary Chiara Pedretti Milano, Italy 
Treasurer Reto Limacher Lucerne, Switzerland
PR Officer Rolf Dahlberg Sweden
Youth Coordinator Bogdan Tamba Iasi, Romania

European Trustees and Directors

At the conference new trustees were appointed. There are currently 171 trustees worldwide. Of those, 26 come from Europe. New from Europe is Celia Sandys from England. Otto Burri remains as Vice Chairman for the Board of Trustees. Valeria Magistrelli of PTPI's Milano Chapter was elected as new member of the Board of Directors.

Trustee Country   Trustee Country
Alqi Beqo 
Christian Radulescu
Genci Mucaj
Rolf G. Dahlberg
Bertrand Shijaku
Otto Burri
Blanche Decoster-Peycker
Miriam Casas-Troxler
Svenn Erik Kristensen
Ernst Honegger
Inga Nørgaard
Reto Limacher
Peter Tage
Cornelia Siegenthaler
Michael F. Binney
Regina Wälti
Annick Debien
Betty Holland
United Kingdom
Hans-Dieter Robel
Emily Walker
United Kingdom
Valeria Magistrelli
William J. Walker
United Kingdom
Jules Janssen
Peter Whitby
United Kingdom
Tadeusz Grabowiecki
Celia Sandys
United Kingdom


At the Awards luncheon of the Worldwide Conference the following European members received awards: Congratulations!

  • PTPI's Outstanding Leadership Awards at the Board of Trustees Level: Peter Whitby, PTPI's Chester Chapter (shared with Il Hoon Kwak and Ken Shores)
  • The Chapter Leadership Award was presented to Karen Margrethe Kristensen of Denmark;
  • The Chapter Web site Award was presented to People to People Denmark;
  • PTPI's Eisenhower Distinguished Service Awards were presented to Sir Andrew Bowden (shared with Amr Badr, Barbara Capozzi);
  • Artistic Ambassador Tatyana Chepel (PTPI's Omsk Chapter) shared her musical talents and gave participants a high-energy performance;

During the conference the art pieces of Artistic Ambassador Wendy Haccuria (PTPI's Brussels Chapter) were displayed.

Message of the Host Committee President for the Conference

The Worldwide Conference was hosted and co organised by PTPI's Milano Chapter. PTPI Trustee and now Board of Director Member Valeria Magistrelli spent countless hours and days (even weeks) to make the event possible. This is what Valeria writes:

Dear friends,

As president of the host committee for the 16th Worldwide Conference I would like to thank all the delegates for being with us in Baveno and participating in the Conference. Our hope is that you have wonderful memories of the event not only because the resort is beautiful and, I hope, the food was great but above all because once again we worked together to try to make the world around us a little bit better and we could make so many new friendships and renew the old ones!!

I am also very pleased to inform everybody of the success of our humanitarian project. Aiutare i Bambini, the Foundation we have been supporting for years, has collected, with your help, 2.751 Euro, in other words enough money to supply five new fountains in different villages in Cameroon to support the project „Give water to the Cameroon Children". This is really great!!!

Thank you, thank you all until our next meeting!!

Valeria Magistrelli

PTPI's European Conference 2005: Tirana, Albania

The next European Conference will be held in Tirana, Albania on May 13-15. PTPI's Tirana Chapter and its Organizing Committee have started the planning process together with the European Executive Committee. There are six chapters in Albania, which will guarantee good local programs and high attendance.

Preliminary Program

Thursday/Friday Youth Program
Friday, May 13 Arrival, Opening Ceremony
Saturday, May 14 Conference Session, Evening Dinner
Sunday, May 15 Day-trip to Kruja (former capital of Albania, 1000 years old)
Monday, May 16 Optional Program: Day trip to Berati (2000-year-old town – one of the most beautiful in Albania)

Homestay will be offered as optional program after the conference.

Detailed invitations will be sent out to all members and chapters in January/February next year.

Mark your calendars!! May 13-15

Chapter Reports

PTPI Berlin

In November, a group of seven visited Brussels for a four-day homestay. Among the participants, there were four non-members, who we hope to see more of within PTPI. In fact, there were two young ladies from Hanover. The group visited the European Union area of Brussels under the guidance of Daniel Schaubacher. On Friday the group travelled to nearby Brügge for a guided tour of the very beautiful city centre. Guy van Houtryve showed small narrow streets and explained about the city life.

Marie Louise Smeets showed the visitors the centre of Brussels. She is a long term member and knows Brussels very well. Wendy Haccuria, the PTPI Artistic Ambassador also joined the group.

PTPI's Berlin Chapter celebrated its 25th anniversary on October 30th. Seventy members and guests attended the event; among them two founding members and guests from the US and Switzerland. During the evening attendees enjoyed music, speeches about past chapter events and a dance performance. The organizing committee had also prepared a home made buffet.

Brigitte Kasigkeit

PTPI Brussels

People to People International in the European capital Brussels and beyond in Belgium is pleased to report a steady increase in members and activities. In September, a group of high school students from Inverell near Sydney, Australia, visited Belgium on homestays arranged by PTPI's Brussels Chapter. The international visitors were also received at Maison de la Francité by Director Daniel LaRoche and Australian Mission Counselor James Baxter. They enjoyed a visit to Bruges, a historic city built on canals and often called the "Venice of the North".

In October, Marie-Louise Smeets was the Belgian delegate to PTPI's Worldwide Conference in Baveno. Artist painter Wendy Haccuria from Brussels was selected as PTPI Artistic Ambassador at the conference. In November, PTPI Belgium welcomed homestay guests from Berlin and Hanover, led by PTPI's Director of European Operations Lars Poignant. A dinner party and a tour through Brussels and its European institution district was organized for them. They were also escorted to Bruges and to the Waterloo battlefield with the huge panorama circular painting commemorating the 1815 defeat of emperor Napoleon by Wellington and his Austrian allies. A dinner was organized for Dr. Rebecca Staton Reinstein from PTPI's Miami, Florida Coral Gables Chapter. She gave an information management course at the Management Centre Europe in November.

Every other week, PTPI Belgium stages visits to museums and concerts, fashion shows and exhibitions; hikes through parks or teatime parties. The Thursday evening "tables de conversation" at Maison de la Francité, enabling expatriates arriving in Brussels to practice French, are well attended. On November 3, the excursion to Maasmechelen Factory Outlet Village once again attracted 30 participants who enjoyed their shopping spree. An excursion to the world's smallest town, Durbuy in the Ardennes, and to the Vêves medieval castle were two other successful fall outings. On December 1, after a visit to the Porte de Halle exhibit featuring the legend of St. Nicolas and Christmas traditions, a tea party at the Brussels Hilton was a great opportunity to exchange news and plans for future activities.

The subject of many conversations were of course the preparations for the annual Christmas gala dinner and dance, on December 3, at the Brussels Hilton. Peter Whitby, President of PTPI's European Council and a member of PTPI's Board of Directors, and his wife Elizabeth from Chester were the special guests at this function held for the 35th time, along with 55 happy people. Once again, Chris Berry and his band charmed an enthusiastic audience and surprised Peter as well as new member Nicole, in recognizing their birthday by intoning the happy birthday tune. The PTPI Belgium board members were recognized for their unique services throughout the year, and new board members Christine Pairon and Marie-Louise Heneffe were welcomed. Every attendee received an original tombola prize.

Daniel Schaubacher

PTPI Chester

On June 15th Andrew Martin has replaced Heather Exell as chapter president. Heather Exell takes over the office of chapter treasurer from Jeffrey Reeves. Vice Chairman and Homestay coordinator is Leila Martin.

The chapter has arranged an exchange for music students. Nadya Hill from PTPI's Lakewood, Colorado Chapter gave several recitals in Chester, notably at Eaton Hall, Chester Town Hall and Nantwich Parrish Church. She was supported by Adam Newman from Chester, who was an exchange scholar in 2004 and by Simon Vlies who will be going to Colorado, USA, as an exchange student in 2005.

Now that we are in December, the Chester chapter is fairly quiet. Most members are getting ready for family get together over Christmas and New Year.On January 30th 2005, we shall be holding a lunch in a local hotel. The Lord Mayor of Chester (our Chapter President) will be attending. We have also invited a diplomat from the USA embassy to make a presentation.

In March, I shall be taking a group to visit my old place of work - Air Traffic Control at Manchester International Airport. It will be good for me to see how things have changed in the past seven years since I retired.We are all looking forward to receiving details of the European Conference in May to be held in Tirana Albania. As far as I can gather, no-one from PTPI's Chester Chapter has ever been to that country.

We are looking forward to renewing old friendships and making new ones.May I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and I hope the New Year brings all that you wish for.

Andrew Martin

PTPI Interlaken

In Part 1, Ekaterina sang with a glorious clarity songs from Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Duparc and Wolf, among others. She sang of joy, and loneliness, love and sadness, longing and playfulness. Also in Part 2, Ekaterina showed PTPI members and friends some of what she had learned in the years since she first came, as a teenager from Russia, for a homestay to PTPI's Interlaken Chapter. During this stay, her hosts heard Ekaterina sing and told her: "That voice is beautiful. You should get training."

The full church was enchanted and lifted up by selections from Rossini (Othello), Mozart (Figaro), Puccini (Tosca, Gianni Schichi, and Butterfly). Ekaterina's performance was all that it promised, and PTPI's Interlaken, Berner Oberland Chapter was grateful for the concerts and proud to have been part of the training of talented opera singer Ekaterina Gaidanskaia.

We wish her well in her career and her life, and expect to hear more of her successes in the opera world.

Ronnie Blakeney

PTPI Plovdiv

On July 30, 2004, the National Forum API of Plovdiv, Bulgaria has joined our organization as PTPI's Plovdiv, Bulgaria Chapter.

From September 16 to 19, 2004, the chapter organized an international study session in Plovdiv on "Social and political reasons for the violence against women, children and young people". As result of this training course, the participants drafted a petition against violence in all of its forms. The petition is published at

PTPI's Plovdiv Chapter has also organized a musical workshop as part of its project "Bulgarian Choral Art". The workshop started on October 22 and ended on October 26, 2004 with a concert of young Bulgarian conductors and singers. The project is carried out in cooperation with Soros Center of Cultural Politics, the Bulgarian national fund "Culture" and the Swiss Cultural Program Bulgaria.

At the annual meeting on November 13, 2004, the members of PTPI's Plovdiv Chapter agreed on participating in more international PTPI programs. The chapter members have some valuable knowledge in fundraising and project management and are always open for partnerships with other PTPI chapters.

For more information on past and future activities, please visit the chapter's Web site at or contact the chapter president Stoyka Bakalova at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

PTPI Roman

Several members of PTPI's Roman, Romania Chapter have participated in a multimedia project initiated by Siemens. We would like to congratulate them for being among the worldwide 1400 finalists with their project! They have created a multimedia learning tool on "how and what we would like to learn". All participants in this project have been PTPI members and students at the Roman Voda National College. Here they are: Vlad Iucha, Gina Boiculese, Oana Borcan, Flavia Stesura, Oana Spatarescu, Razvan Ariton, Andreea Dobra, Eliza Simion. The student team was supported by their teachers Sorina Danciu and Gabriela Romano. Well done all of you and enjoy your prices!

PTPI Sternberk

We are a group of young people (whose „real" age does not matter at all) from the Czech Republic interested in getting to know as much as possible about life and our planet, in learning new things and sharing experience. Our chapter was started on the 1st of April, 2004 and it has 11 members (but we hope to grow quickly):

Helena Metelkova is the president and the heart and soul of our group. She is the main organizer of our activities and projects. Petr Blazek is her right hand and the one who helps to keep the spirit high but also responsible for many practical and technical things. The rest of us - Martina Nouzova, Helena Metelkova, Lenka Kestrankova, Petr Kestranek, Helena Psejova, Pavla Maitnerova, Marek Kasik, Jirka Schneider, Jan Picek - we do our best to make things work and have fun.

Our chapter is based in Sternberk, in the eastern part of the Czech Republic which is called Moravia. The town of Sternberk is situated in a lovely countryside at the foot of the "Low Jesenik", 16 km to the north of Olomouc. It was established as settlement under the castle of the same name which guarded a very important crossing of trade routes. Sternberk has a population of about 14,500 inhabitants, and it attracts people from outside for its historical sights and beautiful surroundings.

Up to now, the activities of our group have focused on a big project called „Kookaburra Expedition 2004", prepared in cooperation with PTPI's Bunbury, Western Australia Chapter. The task of this expedition was to prepare and build an instructive path for children on a farm in Australia (Ferguson Farmstay, Dardanup Shire, Bunbury, Western Australia). Apart from the actual construction of the path, members of the expedition (five students aged 15-18 and two leaders) spent more than a week in Australian families, visited local schools, sport clubs and leisure-time groups. All these activities should help the students to improve their active knowledge of the English language, and to get to know a new country as well as its people and culture. More information about the expedition is available at

In future, we would like to stay in touch with our Australian friends and to invite them to our country. But we would also like to make new friends, and to prepare new exchange projects. We cooperate with the Pionýr Plejády Šternberk (children and youth organization) and work on some projects together. We are also planning to join the „School and Classroom Program" since one of our members is a teacher.

We would like to invite you to visit the Czech Republic and we can offer you a homestay in Šternberk or in the very close region. If you are interested in visiting us, you can contact our homestay coordinator: Marek Kašik – email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Please, feel free to contact us through Helena Metelkova (e-Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) or visit our Web sites: and

Helena Metelkova

PTPI Tallinn

Julia Samogina from PTPI's Tallinn Chapter participated in UNITED Conference "Living our lives without discrimination - anti-racism in youth culture and sports"(Oslo, Norway, October 27-31, 2004), in the Study Session "Developing Social Cohesion through Minority Youth Participation" (European Youth Center Budapest, November 14-21, 2004,) and in the international seminar "Young women Active Participation – Special Focus on the Equality of Gender" (Azerbaijan, Baku, November 25-30, 2004). Here is her report:

Youth culture is often used to spread racism. Anti-racists and anti-fascists must be conscious of the challenges present in youth culture and sports. It is necessary to work on attractive alternatives against racist tendencies in those spheres. Moreover, youth culture and sports are excellent tools against social exclusion and for social integration and participation of minority and migrant youth, including young refugees and asylum-seekers.

The aim of this Conference of UNITED for Intercultural Action is to provide a forum for the important debate on racism and anti-racism in youth culture and sports in Europe today. The conference focused on key issues such as migration and culture, nationalism, national identity and youth, exchange of good practice, successful anti-racist projects in the field of youth culture and sports as well as participation of music and sport stars as role models in the struggle against racism. This conference was very interesting for me and brought a lot of new information, new people, new ideas and, I hope, new important and useful future projects.

The Study Session on "Developing Social Cohesion through Minority Youth Participation" took place in Budapest, Hungary. Thirty-five minority youth leaders and volunteers active at community and local level were there to discuss and develop strategies of mainstreaming human rights and intercultural dialogue in their activities or work. The overall aim of the study session was to provide a forum where youth leaders, in particular those working with young people from minorities, can discuss and develop strategies in effectively promoting dialogue in their communities.

The international seminar on "Young women Active Participation – Special Focus on the Equality of Gender" was organized by "Shams", a young women's center, and supported by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe. It was based on the human rights guide "Compass". We had a lot of interesting workshops, debates and lectures about gender equality. Many interesting people from the former Soviet Union and young leaders with different backgrounds and views participated. It was great.

Ruta Pels

PTPI Tirana - Chapter President Genci Muca visiting PTPI's Bern Chapter

Before the PTPI Conference in Baveno, Italy, we wanted to do a homestay in Switzerland. I wrote to Otto Burri from PTPI's Bern Chapter who is PTPI vice chairman of the Board of Trustees and an old friend of mine. He did all the arrangements for us to have a fantastic time in Switzerland. Ms. Veronica Kobel a fantastic and hospitable Swiss lady from Bern hosted me and my wife Valbona.

We arrived late on Friday the 8th of October 2004. Swiss people don't simply have the best cheese, the best chocolates and the best clock/watches in the world, but also their timing works perfectly well! Trains are always on time, as well as planes and buses! It's fantastic to have been part of such an organized life and to have had a chance to experience the outstanding scenery, mountains with snow in the summer. You have a train going to almost every mountain peak! We were amazed by the amount of trees and were told that there are laws which make sure that for every tree cut, a new tree is planted.

We would definitely suggest visiting Switzerland to everybody. It is a fantastic country with hospitable people and fresh food.

It is the destiny of every human that he or she wants to return to Switzerland once they have visited it. We hope and plan to go back some time, but not before we have had someone from Switzerland stay with us in Albania. We would love to reciprocate the hospitality we were given.

Our Swiss host was Veronica Kobel a therapist by profession who had been to Albania in humanitarian work! She told us about her experience in Albania and that she had still good friends there. It made us feel good to be with somebody who had some sort of relation with our country.

During our evening conversations, we addressed a variety of different subjects including our traditions, customs and culture. Being European, you would not expect to be very different from other Europeans and we are not. But still, that experience made us all understand each other better. Being part of PTPI, we know that communicating is important for understanding, and the more we know about each other the more we love each other, and that's a way of bringing peace closer.

Having a different culture doesn't make one bad or good, but just different. The more you get involved in PTPI the better you understand the differences and accept people as they are.

We always appreciate being with friends and that's what makes PTPI a wonderful organization. We want to thank PTPI for an outstanding opportunity, our host family for the time and love given, Otto Burri for showing us around for a whole day and Dr. Korina Tofan from PTPI's Roman, Romania Chapter for keeping us such nice company.

Please note that no matter how much we write, we will not be able to fully convey what we have experienced. The next European Conference will take place in Tirana from May 13 to 15, 2005. We would like to use this opportunity to invite you all to experience the Albanian hospitality.

Thanks a lot and welcome to Albania!

Valbona and Genci Mucaj