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Newsletter 2007-3


Message from PTPI Europe's President | PTPI Experiences | Coming Events | PTPI Updates |
Chapter Reports | Download as PDF | www.ptpi.org 

European Youth Forum in Berlin, 2007

Message from PTPI Europe's President

I hope everyone has had a great summer. I know that PTPI has had exciting projects all over Europe.

The European Youth Forum in Berlin, The International Youth Summer Camp at Lake Balaton, the All Swiss Meeting in Interlaken, etc. I'm pleased and excited over the reports I have gotten and the wonderful pictures that have been shared.

In just two weeks time, I will have the distinct pleasure of meeting some of you at the Annual Board of Trustees Meeting in Berlin: I know that over 50% of our European Trustees will attend. It will be our second possibility to meet each other just in the last 6 months – great.

PTPI has had interesting developments during the summer months. One example are the two new chapters in Jenin and Hebron in the Palestinian Territories, another is a new chapter in Beirut Lebanon.

It is of vital importance that our chapter network moves into these areas. Our motto of Peace through Understanding has never been more important.

I can see from Web sites and information spread by many chapters in Europe that the fall has gotten off to a good start. Chapters like Brussels and Šternberk seem to have a full schedule, and our Italian friends are well on their way to prepare for the 2008 European Conference in Rimini in May.

I love getting E-mails, pictures and information about events happening in our chapters in Europe – please keep sending them. Hoping to see many of you in Berlin, I remain,

Your humble friend,

Rolf G Dahlberg, President of PTPI's European Council

PTPI Experiences

Accounts of PTPI's European Youth Forum in Berlin, July 30 - August 5 - What is EYF?

Is it a brand of colourful crayons? Is it an ancient kind of nutritious grain, well-known in Latin America, but unheard of in Europe? Is it a newly discovered, highly contagious influenza which, after a long incubation period, spreads quickly through the body and leaves you with a roller-coaster energy level? Could it be a music band with the Celtic name Ee Uï Effe meaning Together We Stand? or some kind of Bumble-Bee!?

Well... It has the diversity and never-ending possibilities of crayons, the nourishing quality of the grain, the flame and passion of fever, the joyfulness and energy of Celtic music, the bumble-bee's hum that follows you wherever you go ... Why, it's the PTPI European Youth Forum of course! Based on sharing culture and willpower to change the world, this first edition of EYF took place in the memorable city of Berlin. At the end of July, youth aged 15 to 19 from 19 European countries assembled for a dynamic, intensive, inspiring and impressively well-organised event.

Activities, ranging from virtual sightseeing of Europe to role playing, including group discussions and creative missions - led the participants to investigate the issue of discrimination. From defining prejudice and stereotype to learning about building projects to promote tolerance, participants plunged into the depths of action, reflecting upon what it takes, big or small, to change the world. "If the people unite, so will the nations" says PTPI, and EYF certainly brought us one step forward to world unity.

Amelia T. Joulain, Belgium (17 years old)

Five Days in PTPI Berlin - Memories for a Lifetime

Berlin is a dream destination for the majority of my friends. I have never been an exception. Fortunately, I was given the opportunity to participate in the European Youth Forum, organized and sponsored by People to People International – a worldwide organization promoting world peace and tolerance throughout the globe. I was sent with love and care from my own organization – The BalkanKids Foundation – a small friendly circle of cool people hoping to make students of my age feel and think good.

Morning energizerFor a girl of my age and from Bulgaria being part of the whole PTPI event seemed like a scary challenge for both my mother's nerves and my abilities to take care of myself on my own. Surprisingly, however, the Brandenburg, the Reichstag and the other landmarks that I had read so much about and was so anxious to see didn't impress me as strongly as the warmth and the friendly attitude of the participants and the enticing atmosphere of the Forum.

All the hesitation and anxiety that overwhelmed me during the flight vanished undoubtedly as I entered the conference room. Yet, for a couple of days, I was quite silent and reserved while the discussions took place. By the end of the event, I became so talkative, encouraged by the work-shop leaders, that I stubbornly and confidently expressed my opinion all the time.

I was amazed at the customs and the cultural heritage of the countries introduced during the Cul-ture Fair. My partner and I appeared to be the perfect team and our presentation captured the imagination of the viewers with our Top Ten Bulgarian rap, composed and drawn by enthusiasts of the BalkanKids.

As a matter of fact, my room itself was a multicolourful gathering of six different countries: France, Sweden, Russia, Poland, Bulgaria and Ukraine. I will never forget the salsa lessons the Spanish girls taught us late at night. Though I was completely awkward and stepped twice on my partner's foot, I felt so delighted. Once, most of the girls gathered in our room and we had a wonderful chat about everything: movies, music, world issues etc. It was obvious how much in common we had despite of the age difference (15-18).

As for the agenda – I would award the theatre game about discrimination as the most insightful. It was an outstanding way to put yourself in someone else's shoes. The intercultural sensitivity was truly palpable and still, nobody was offended. This theatre game helped us realize the gap caused by a lack of understanding. We could interrupt the players, point out their mistakes and replace them in their roles in order to try to solve the problem. I was able to discover so many view-points.

Never before have I reckoned how amusing a morning energizer could possibly be. Pretending to scrub the floor, being attacked by sharks or producing weird sounds to gain more positive energy was funny and relaxing.

And last but not least, my favourite one: the world café. Sitting around the tables, having a talk with absolutely everybody and sharing valuable, cultural information was a remarkable experience for me. Rarely have I reached so deeply into the background of my own culture.

I definitely wouldn't be exaggerating if I confess that one of the most joyful moments this summer holiday was when I sat together with my new Swedish, Hungarian and Albanian friends under one umbrella while the rain was pouring in the Berlin café. We discussed the issues that we face in our everyday life on a global scale. The four of us were laughing and singing. Once before, when we had barbecue, I also experienced the same feeling of unity and good: we circled the still heated and glowing, sausageless BBQ place talking in our original languages Bulgarian, Croatian and Macedonian and still understood each other with ease because of the similarities between them.

I am grateful to the wonderful team of the Berlin event – to Verena for her hospitality and infectious charm, to Lars – for his great sense of humour and strictness and to Bogdan – for the brilliant workshop presentations. Thanks to the European Youth Forum, I felt useful to my society as a representative of my country by contributing to the positive outlook of my peers. And I hope to be part of the great idea of PTPI in the future, forming a chapter in my home town and engaging in activities aimed at world peace and harmony among people.

Elitsa Pophlebarova, Bulgaria (15 years old)

Accounts of the English Language Camp "East Meets West" Organized by PTPI's Pécs, Hungary Chapter, July 29 - August 7

In the afternoon of July 29, our teacher Ms Grgec, who kindly accompanied us since our adult advisor Ms. Krsnik wasn't able to attend, my best friend Liza and I set off from Croatia to the Hungarian neighbouring country, where the summer camp was going to take place for ten days.

Our camp was located in Balatonmariafürdo, a tourist site right next to Balaton Lake. Every day, we had to wake up at about 7'o clock because we had breakfast at 8. Then, from 9 to 12, we had English lessons, which we enjoyed a lot. The lessons were held by our English teacher Ms. Grgec and Ms Hawksworth, teacher and English native speaker. Lunch was at 1 p.m. and at 3 p.m. we had various workshops, until the dinner time at 7 p.m.

Gergely Kiss was responsible for organizing our free time and it was great to get to know each other better. We also had some free time to go shopping, swimming, sunbathing on the beach of the Lake Balaton, sightseeing or we just went for a walk. One day, we all went to the town, rented bikes and rode to the museum where we had a picnic. On another occasion we all went sailing.

There were teenagers aged between 14 and 18 from countries such as France, Poland, Sweden, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Albania, Ukraine and Russia. In a few days, we all became very good friends and we improved our English, too. Thanks to the intercultural party, where we had to introduce our countries and share some specialties that we brought from our country for that particular evening, we all learned a lot about the culture of all the countries represented at the camp.

We are still amazed to think of the great time we had at the camp. That was also due not only to our English teachers and Gergely, but also to all the other people involved in organizing the camp, since they all wanted us to feel just like at home.

We returned home on August 7 hoping that we'll have a chance to go there again next year and meet our old and new friends.

We are thankful to PTPI for giving us this great opportunity to go there and have the time of our lives.

Helena Černi, Croatia (15 years old)

I have to admit, I don't know where to start. Ten days is not such a long time, but I'm still hesitating where to start my report: The tour around the castle with gorgeous gardens, the romantic evenings sitting by the fire, the bicycle tour with a picnic, the adventurous sail at Lake Balaton in a fisher boat, the welcome or the intercultural party, the everyday joyful workshops or the ordinary English lessons that would suddenly change to dramatic "wandering-around-Africa" or melancholic "rescue-our-earth" lessons?

OF COURSE, I would like to tell you absolutely everything about all of it! But then I would need to write a "small" 200-pages book, and I have only a few lines of room.

I don't regard myself as an inattentive person at all, but nevertheless, at the beginning, the very beginning, all I saw was: Hungary, Ukraine, France, Croatia, Poland, Sweden, Russia and Albania – eight different corners of Europe, eight different countries, eight different cultures, habits and traditions. However, when I looked closer, I saw and got to know 20 amazing, funny, kind, cheerful, talkative, easy going young people, great companions, good friends, which I miss so much just a few days after the end of this camp and which can hardly be substituted by the dozens of emails that we share each day. I will never forget our table tennis tournaments, card fights to life or death, lying by the Lake Balaton, buying souvenirs on a daily basis, afternoon teas, evening movies, or even gossiping till late at night. I hope that all those special experiences and skills and the new knowledge sprinkled with a bit more of courage and self-confidence, which without doubt all of us gained during this camp, will one day be used to fulfill our dreams.

And last but not least: Anikó, Anne, Gery, Katarina, Hans, Julia – you would say six ordinary names, six ordinary people – but the truth is that those at first glance ordinary looking names hide exceptional, hard-working, diligent, but also careful and responsible people, always in a good mood. These are our leaders, teachers, self-employed paparazzi or, to some people maybe also, humorists, showmen, etc. One way or the other, without those people, this camp would never have been the experience it was thanks to them.

Yes, I admit, this text may be written with a small amount of nostalgia. Ten days is not such a long time and still, I am still hesitating where to start.

Simona Popovičová, Slovakia (16 years old)

Coming Events

Invitation to YG Event in Sternbeck - Celebrating New Year the Intercultural Way

PTPI's Sternberk Chapter invites young people ages 18-30 to the international YG meeting "Let's do it our way" from December 27, 2007, to January 3, 2008. The project aims at giving PTPI's Young Generation the opportunity to meet, spend some time together, participate in special workshops and talk about interesting topics. It is also about getting to know new cultures, different ways of life, making friends and having fun. Marek Kasik puts it this way: "We are young and this is our way to meet, enjoy life, be together and do something for the others." This special event will be organized in the idyllic town of Sternberk and the surrounding region in the Czech Republic, heart of Europe. Invitation, application form and the detailed program are available at www.ptpe.org/yg-program2007. Deadline for application is October 7, 2007. Join us in celebrating New Year the inter-cultural way!

Date Program Contact
September 21-23  Prague, Czech Republic - Evaluation of the Summer exchange project with Spain  Helca Metelkova
September 22  Berlin - Concert in Pinellodrom  http://ptpe.org/conzert
September 27-29 PTPI Board of Trustees Meeting in Berlin PTPI European Office
October 1 Brussels - Belgium - Presentation of Elisabeth A. Lheure of the UNESCO Centre in Catalonia www.peopletopeople.be
November 7-11 PTPI Global Youth Forum, Chicago PTPI World Headquarters
December 27 - January Sternbeck, Czech Republick - "Let's do it our way" : exchange project for PTPI's Young Generation www.ptpe.org/yg-program2007
December 6-16 PTPI Peace Camp, Egypt PTPI World Headquarters
December 7-18 PTPI Global Peace Initiative, Egypt PTPI World Headquarters
May 2008 PTPI's European Conference, Rimini, Italy PTPI European Office

PTPI Updates

PTPI's Board of Trustees Meeting

From September 27 to 30, the members of PTPI's Board of Trustees will meet in Berlin at the Ramada Plaza in order to exchange, discuss and plan for the future direction of our organization. The three-day program includes working and networking sessions, but leaves also time for socializing, touring Berlin, and meeting with members of PTPI's Berlin Chapter. The European Office and the members of PTPI's Berlin Chapter are very much looking forward to welcoming our PTPI guests.

PTPI's European Youth Forum

Pictures and reports of PTPI's European Youth Forum in Berlin are now available at http://ptpe.org/eyf2007. We thank all participants, the group leaders Bogdan, Helca and Stoyka as well as the numerous volunteers for making this event a success! We also thank our main sponsor, the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe.

YG Program

Four chapters have answered our call for Young Generation Program proposals. The aim of our call was to encourage the creation of a project that will enable members of PTPI's Young Generation to get to know each other, exchange and cooperate. We want to thank PTPI's Bucharest, Roman, Sternberk and Tblisi Chapters for putting so much effort into developing interesting programs. We appreciate your initiative and hope that we will see all your projects realized in the future.

Only one project can receive financial support from PTPI this year. From the four submitted proposals, we chose the project that we considered to have the highest potential to increase exchange and cooperation between PTPI's Young Generation members across Europe. We congratulate PTPI's Sternberk Chapter for their excellent project idea and are looking forward to their international youth meeting from December 27, 2007, to January 3, 2008. Please view the "coming events" section of this issue for more details.

International Student Panel at the 2007 Global Youth Forum

Congratulations to Dina AbuShraim (Palestine), Shitj Bhargava (India), Bogdan Kurchatov (Russia), Elitsa Pophlebarova (Bulgaria), Joe Fahad (Lebanon), Claudia Corjan (Romania) and Rhyan Elliott (Bahamas) for being selected for the International Student Panel at PTPI's Global Youth Forum, in Chicago, USA (November 7-11 2007).

The panel is a wonderful opportunity for students of diverse countries to share their own culture and background, with more than 200 like-minded young people from 18 different countries. The selection criteria were based on communication skills, fluency in the English language, knowledge of world affairs, activity within the own community, and commitment to and belief in the mission of PTPI. Members of the International Student Panel will receive a full tuition scholarship which includes the roundtrip airfare between their hometown and Chicago O'Hare Airport (ORD).

Language Ambassador Program

PTPI's Language Ambassador Program has continued with its second year. During the summer four teachers taught English in European chapters. Two came to Romania and two to Hungary. Anne Hawskworth (France) and Katarina Grgec (Croatia) participated in the Summer Camp organized by PTPI's Pecs Chapter. During the camp they taught the 20 participants English. They also assisted in other activities during the camp.

Mark Johnson (USA) and Ayaciuan Madrigal Rodriguez (Mexico) travelled to Vaslui and Roman, both in Romania. In Roman and Vaslui, the classes were offered for both young and old. Below is a report from Mark Johnson about his experiences in Vaslui and an account of Ayaciuan's visit to Roman by Sivan Tuchman, member of PTPI's Roman Chapter.

It is very promising to see that the program develops, even though there are still very few participating teachers. Anne Hawksworth has participated both years: thank you Anne! We believe that both teachers and students (and chapter members) benefit from the program. We therefore plan to keep the program for the coming year. During fall, PTPI will contact the European chapters and promote the program to possible teachers. If there is interest, we possibly will expand to other languages as well.

Mark Johnson - Language Ambassador

"If you are looking for an adventure of a lifetime look no further than this program. I just finished four weeks of teaching English in Romania and I had the most wonderful time. I spent one month in Vaslui, Romania working with two groups of High School teachers who wanted to improve their English language skills. From the moment I arrived to the moment I left, my hosts were there to make sure that all of my needs were met. I stayed in a hostel associated with the High School where I worked. The volunteers associated with People to People and the staff at the High School went out of their way to make sure that this adventure was more than I had hoped for.

I worked with two groups of teachers, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. They were wonderful to work with and came every day prepared to learn. After class there was usually a group of us who went out to explore the town or the local area. On the weekends, they planned excursions to areas of interest around Romania that I wanted to see. We visited the beautiful Painted Monasteries in northern Romania as well as the medieval town of Brasov and the beautiful Peles Castle.

The time flew past and before I knew it I was saying goodbye to a group of people who I now consider colleagues and friends. What a wonderful way to spend a summer. I only hope that the people I worked with learned as much from me as I learned from them. So, if you have thought that this might be a way you would like to spend your summer I highly recommend this program."

Sivan Tuchman: "Hola, Hello and Buna" - Mexican Language Ambassador in Roman

"PTPI's Roman, Romania Chapter participated in PTPI's Language Ambassador Program by inviting Ayaciuan Madrigal Rodriguez from Mexico City, Mexico. Ayaciuan, fondly called Ajax by Roman's chapter members, brought Mexico to Romania through her presentations of Mexican culture, including food, clothes, music, dance, and traditions, as well as the Spanish language, which she taught to 30 teenagers, Young Generation members, and adult members of our chapter. Ayaciuan's love for salsa inspired both young and old to take part in regular salsa lessons. Students to whom Ajax taught English and Spanish created a traditional Mexican piñata that was filled with candy, fruits, and prizes before being burst open at a party for the students.

Ayaciuan's presence in Roman enabled PTPI members, as well as the entire community, to understand that Mexico is more than "La Cucaracha." Ayaciuan taught English and Spanish each morning to some of Roman's teenagers through popular music, such as Nelly Furtado's song, "Man Eater," and Justin Timberlake's, "Cry Me a River." Students translated Romanian recipes for ciorba (soup), chicken and sour cream, mamaliga (cornmeal), and clatite (crepes) into Spanish, and they prepared their dishes while explaining their steps in Spanish. Adults and Young Generation members from Roman began classes through a traditional BINGO game to introduce the Spanish alphabet, and finished with a Mexican party and the chance to show their new salsa skills.

As Ayaciuan departed Roman, her absence was acutely felt by all of us. But her spirit, language, and salsa moves will be a reminder of what she brought to the community."

Chapter Reports

Berlin, Germany

In the last three months, we had meetings, hosted visitors, and we also went on two trips. On June 16, we had our yearly barbecue for the second time in Susanne's big garden in Bohnsdorf. Twenty-one members and friends came to this party and enjoyed sausages and meat. The guests prepared different kinds of salads and desserts. Lars grilled bananas with chocolate. "It is Swedish," he told us and I thought, "That's good, because it tastes too unusual and sweet for most of us."

On June 30, we started a two-day trip to Görlitz, a very old and romantic city close to the Polish border at the river Neiße. The Polish part of the city is called Zgorzelec. The city is divided since World War II. We were a group of 17 participants: members and friends. Together we toured through the city and visited the historic buildings and churches, the local museum and several watchtowers which were important for the city during the Middle Ages. The beautiful organ concert on Sunday morning was a highlight for all of us.

Elly Washington toured through Europe with a group of young people. She also was in Berlin for a few days. Brigitte, Gerd and I met her in the evening of Saturday, July 7.

In preparation for our trip to Barcelona, Ceret and Montpellier, planned for October 2008, we had an extra meeting at Marianne's apartment. Hans-Dieter showed a little film about the tour with a historical train over the Pyrenees Mountains. This film made us even more curious to see all this in real life! We are also looking forward to meeting our friends in Ceret and Montpellier in October!

The European Office invited 33 students for PTPI's European Youth Forum in Werftpfuhl. They arrived on July 30 in Berlin at two different airports and two different train stations. Chapter members from Berlin helped Verena and Lars to pick the participants up and took them to Lichtenberg Station. On August 5, Hans-Dieter and I took three girls on a big sightseeing tour for the whole day because their trains weren't leaving until late at night. We enjoyed being together with these three very nice and kind girls: Sara and Sophie from Sweden and Claire-Mila from France.

Last but not least, on Saturday 25, we went by train to Hannover to visit the new chapter in this city. Andrea and Julia picked us up and together, we walked through the city. They were well prepared and told us many important things. At the town hall, we also met Cornelia, another member of PTPI's Hannover Chapter. From the top of this wonderful historic building, we had a most beautiful view over the city. After a relaxing tour by boat on the "Maschsee," and a good meal in an Italian restaurant, we all watched the great fireworks at "Herrenhäuser Gärten." It really was a great spectacle! Next morning, we took the train to Hameln. This city is well known as the city of the Pied Pieper. We had the chance to see a little performance at the market place played by the citizens of Hameln. We thank Andrea, Cornelia, Julia and Mandy for making this stay so nice and comfortable for us!

What is coming next?

  • On September 8, we are doing a tour by bike and boat in the region "Uckermark".
  • On September 14, we will present our chapter during the "Day of Volunteers".
  • For September 22, we invite members and friends to a concert with the PTPI member Jacopo Mauro from Florence; he wants to sing familiar Italian opera songs for us and Ivan Yanakov plays the piano. A magician will be also a part of the program.

We are also very much looking forward to welcoming the participants in PTPI's Trustees Meeting here in Berlin from September 27-30. Some will have homestay with our members.

Hannelore Büchler

Brussels, Belgium

Annual Summer Dance on the theme People to People Belgium ASBL has had a very active summer programme including international travel and visitors, local excursions and visits to exhibitions as well as concerts. A highlight was its annual summer dinner dance with almost sixty participants on the theme of "Seascape." Embracing the connotations of the latter theme, participants were invited to come with a related sea or oceanic disguise.

From the outset, starting with opening cocktails, we were welcomed by a Polynesian dancing choir whose members donned exotic flowers, colourful shirts, and shell necklaces, each one paddling feverishly from a make-believe canoe. Many in this joyful team were experienced: some had just returned from a long catamaran cruise from Hawaii to Tahiti and the Marquesis Islands. Thierry and Christine Pairon – the latter is our capable event manager and webmaster – are accomplished sailors. The evening counted an unusually high number of "captains," "sailors" and "passengers," almost as many as on a normal cruise.

A newcomer to PTP events – a seasoned fitness instructor – not only sported a beautiful white and marine blue outfit, but distinguished herself with many sailing accessories which made her deservingly win one of the five evening prizes for the best disguise.Other successful events were a special briefing at the Belgian Greenpeace headquarters on climate change; an excursion to the Woluwe river park with a sustainability foundation guide who introduced us to an unexpected universe of microcosmic biodiversity; a guided tour of a long-established mustard factory in the lovely town of Jambes; and last but not least, our "anniversary" summer luncheon. There, 22 participants enjoyed a nice relaxing afternoon in the gardens of the Brussels Bois de la Cambre Tennis Club. "Anniversary" luncheons or dinners take place periodically to mark the birthday, in a given period, of our PTP members and friends. And those who can present an ID with a corresponding birthdate, participate in a tombola with special birthday presents - a great way to establish and consolidate warm friendships! Among the participants at the August 27 "anniversary" luncheon: two Vice Presidents of the European Confederation of Junior Enterprise, both senior students in economics and business management, and a staff member of the United Nations Information Centre in the European capital.

In July, Myriam and Daniel Schaubacher made an extensive trip through Romania. Daniel spoke on "values-based leadership" at a reception of the Baha'i International Community at the Academy Villa in Bucharest. Three dynamic members of a Romanian PTP Student Chapter were introduced on that occasion to many of the 120 guests and shared information on their active PTPI programmes with them. In the cities of Brasov, Piatra Neamt and Bucharest, Myriam and Daniel were warmly welcomed during their tour of Romania by Gina Boiculese, Gabriela Mirauta and Carmen Hbous, who all encountered PTPI through Sorina Danciu of the active Roman chapter – the capable host of PTPI's European Conference in 2003. This extended trip through Campia Romana, Moldavia, Bucovina, Transylvania and the Carpathian hilly regions provided many opportunities to share the PTPI spirit of Peace through Understanding. Myriam and Daniel visited no less than 13 historic monasteries and strongholds, some going back to the Middle Ages.

On Belgian National Day, July 21, five PTP members welcomed in Brussels visitors from New York who contacted us through the Internet after reading about our "Meet the Belgians Programme". Kevin J. Farrelly, a lawyer in New York City, wrote: "It was very nice meeting you, your wife and friends. It is always so much better to get to know natives rather than just fellow tourists."

Amelia Joulain, 17, from Mons, was our enthusiastic Belgian participant in the European Youth Forum in Berlin late in July. A project we have toiled for in the last twelve months in cooperation with a number of youth and student organisations and PTPE in Berlin is the establishment of a Youth and/or Student Chapter. We provided guidance and a modest financial contribution for the most successful "East Meets West" English Language Youth Camp on Lake Balaton, Hungary; in May and July, Myriam and Daniel Schaubacher visited twice with Hans and Julia Randau who are the dynamic facilitators and the driving force behind a host of successful PTP activities in Pécs, Hungary. The Pécs chapter is busy preparing for PTP's contributions to a remarkable programme in 2010, when Pécs will be the European City of Culture. In addition, Myriam and Daniel visited this year's European City of Culture – Sibiu, in July.

Owing to Marie-Louise Smeets' much regretted resignation, PTP Belgium ASBL recently had to renew its executive board : our indefatigable Trustee, Blanche Decoster Peycker, is Vice President and Treasurer; her daughter Christine Pairon serves as Secretary and Event Manager; Nicole Labarre Solbreux, Cynthia Lewis, Annie Claes and Daniel Schaubacher (the latter being President) are all board members. A calendar featuring weekly or bi-weekly events and activities until December 2007 has been posted on www.peopletopeople.be.

Daniel Schaubacher

Bern, Switzerland

Since our last report, the executive board has held two meetings. During the first meeting, details were discussed for the reception of three Student Ambassador groups from Florida, California and Massachusetts – a total of 120 people – in July. We were able to place all the visiting students in host families with children of approximately the same age, either in Bern itself or in nearby suburbs. At our second meeting, we evaluated the visits, and also discussed plans for our summer party on September 1st. We have invited our new host families and all PTPI members (approximately 50 people have responded so far) for an informal dinner party.

Six people from the Bern Chapter attended the Swiss meeting in Interlaken on August 11th. Ernst and Regina Wälti organized an interesting trip to Schynige Platte, in the Bernese Oberland.

The executive board met a third time to celebrate my 70th birthday. Ernst Honegger, my predecessor and the current Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors, presented me with a congratulatory Certificate of Appreciation in the name of Mary Eisenhower, and the Bern Chapter gave me a personalized "life collage." My heartfelt thanks go to all of you far and near for your good wishes!

Otto Burri

Céret, France

Hiking tour through Céret and Amelie Les Bains

This was a very exciting and varied summer for me. In June, I was able to go up to Sweden for a week and had the joy of meeting Dave Hartnick and three colleagues including the headmaster from the "De Rust Futura" school in South Africa. This is the school in South Africa we exchanged with last year after the creation of PTPI's Bot-River Overberg Student Chapter. It is located just up and over Sir Lowrys pass. Anyone who has been there, especially the group of Danish PTPI members who visited in March, will remember the Sir Lowrys pass as well as the Garden route.

It is one of the most beautiful places in the world.During the beginning of my stay, I was in the Gothenburg area and had homestay with a friend of mine, Sandra, who is teaching French and English. Then, I met up with Dave in Kungelf. He was staying with teachers from the Waldorg School who had sponsored his travel costs from South Africa to Sweden. He and the other adults, two nearly sixty years old, had never been out of South Africa apart from trips to Namibia and had never been on a plane.

I visited the school and helped pupils write letters to those in Dave's school in South Africa. Dave and I used the opportunity to encourage the students to start a PTPI chapter. During my stay, I had some really great meals, including Swedish Salmon combined with South African wine.After my trip to Sweden, I taught English to foreign exchange students in England, which was a good preparation for the Language Camp in Hungary. I was also teaching English during the English Language Camp "East meets West", which took place from July 29 to August 7 at the lake Balaton and was organized by PTPI's Pecs Chapter.

After the summer break, PTPI's Céret Chapter has started up its activities once more as of September 1st with a short hiking tour of seven kilometers with a few of the blind and partially sighted persons whom we acccompany on outgoings. We walked along the former railway line between Céret and Amelie Les Bains in beautiful sunshine. It all went off well and we had a drink outside a cafe and picnicked at the Fontaine des Buis in Arles where the summer Guinguette was able to provide a glass of wine with our sandwiches. Hopefully, our next hike will coincide with the visit of the group from PTPI's Berlin Chapter on October 15. We think it would be good if they could meet our partially sighted members: You forget, and so do they, their handicap and we end up whizzing along at quite a speed.

Other projects planned for the coming year are:

  • Trip to Australia in February for two and a half weeks, staying at PTPI's Inverell Chapter some of the time. The estimated costs are 2.000 Euros all inclusive. Contact us if interested in joining us from Paris.
  • Hopefully an exchange with PTPI's Vezprem Chapter during the Easter holidays for one week to ten days. The estimated costs are 500 Euros all inclusive.
  • Finally, a possible exchange to Gothenburg, Sweden in June for 15 year old high school students along with the European Spanish class. Hopefully this will lead to a new chapter in Gothenburg.
  • Hosting of international visitors: providing Homestay for the group of PTPI's Berlin Chapter for three nights in October; welcoming a group of sixth formers from Stockport Cheshire for a week in November and another group in February; hosting a group from PTPI's Vezprem Chapter led by Marianne and Renata during the Easter Holidays; welcoming a group of 15 year-old students studying English or Spanish from Gothenburg with Sandra Baltzersen and a colleague originally from Bolivia early in June.

Anne Hawksworth

Chisinau, Moldavia

The recently chartered chapter held its first regular meeting on July 7, 2007. During the meeting the history, mission and activities of PTPI were presented. The chapter also reviewed all relevant chapter charter documents as well as the chapter manual.

The following ideas for future chapter activities and projects were brought up and discussed:

  • Creation of a website
  • Visits to a local orphanage: party with ice cream, sweets, playing games; taking children to a theater, movie or festivals and paying their entrance; taking children to the zoo
  • Visit to a local old people's home: small party with dancers and singers, visit people with disabilities
  • Cultural activities
  • Student Exchange Program – Romania, Ukraine, Poland, Moldova
  • Cultural exchange (festivals, exhibition – Wine Festival)
  • Volunteer work (summer work camp)
  • Fundraising – instead of money we will ask for the product or material we will need; sport contest (volleyball game) with eventual sponsors
  • Newsletter at the end of the year with activities realized during that year
  • Membership drive activities to recruit new members

It was decided that on the first Thursday of each month the chapter will hold meetings.

Olga Sirbu

Denmark

In April 2007, 24 Danes were in Japan. PTPI's East Zealand Chapter has made three tours to Japan. People to People Denmark has enjoyed a very good relationship with People to People Japan for many years. Every year from 1995 to 2003, PTPI's East Zealand Chapter received a group of young people from the FUKUI Prefecture, who came to learn about our culture and our society (kindergartens, schools, retirement homes and leisure). During these nine years, more than 200 youngsters from FUKUI visited PTPI's East Zealand Chapter. They always met the mayor, who welcomed them with a beautiful reception. The young Japanese stayed in pairs with private families to the great joy of both the Japanese friends and the host families. Goodbyes have always been very difficult, with the Japanese crying and clinging on to the host family until the very last moment. Many people of PTPI's East Zealand Chapter have stayed in touch year after year – even though often it has been very difficult to communicate in English. But mutual understanding, a smile, mimics and common activities like cooking and so on have given us all many lovely moments and days together each time.

The host families wanted to experience the completely new world Japan represents for a Dane. Therefore, PTPI's East Zealand Chapter has organised visits to Japan three times (2000-2003-2007) for PTPI members. Every time it has been a great experience and an enormous success. The visits to Japan were organized in cooperation with Ruriko Nakajima, who has each time put a lot of effort into providing homestays for the groups with PTPI chapters in Japan. During the homestays, we slept on tatamimats on the floor, sat on the floor and ate with chopsticks. We ate raw fish, rice, soup, noodles and drank a lot of green tea. We practiced calligraphy, tried origami and ikebana. We visited schools and sports facilities with Kendo, Japanese archery and many more activities. We also visited the local ONZEN and local temples in the mountains. Between two nice homestays, we stayed for three days at a hotel in Kyoto, where we visited the most famous temples both in Kyoto and Nara. We visit the Imperial Palace, the Golden Pavilion, Nijo Castle and many other things. During the stay, there also was an opportunity for the participants to discover Kyoto on their own.

Twenty-four People to People members from all over Denmark took part in the trip that took place from 29th March to 11th April this year. The members were between 21 and 82 years old. We visited PTPI Sakura Gifu, which not only showed us an unbelievable hospitality but also arranged a common tea ceremony at the local temple, where all the participants were dressed in a kimono and enjoyed Japanese flute and harp music under the blooming Japanese cherry trees.

In Kikugawa, we visited Ruriko Nakajima and the new PTPI Kikugawa Chapter, which welcomed us in a very special way with food and two very beautiful Japanese dance performances. This Japan trip and the earlier PTPI trips to Japan cannot be described fully but must be experienced. All our PTPI participants became incredibly involved in their new friendships with our Japanese friends and tell everybody about it. Yes, the PTPI philosophy has a great importance; therefore it is vital that we keep the homestay concept alive by visiting each other.

Karen Margrethe Kristensen

Gilwice, Poland

It was quite an interesting season for PTPI's Gilwice Chapter. Three of our members were happy to take part in the last European Conference in Interlaken, which, as we all know, was as always a great success and where lots of crucial issues were discussed. Almost right after the conference, in the last week of May, we had the great pleasure to host an American group of Arizona Chapter members travelling around Europe. I am convinced that both sides will have warm memories for a long time yet.

One of our young students was among all those happy youngsters who enjoyed the European Youth Forum in Berlin and one student went to the Summer Camp "East meets West" at Lake Balaton, Hungary. Both came back home very happy and enthusiastic for the future. We hope to have a representative also at the Peace Camp in Egypt.

Since there is a second chapter in Poland, PTPI's Warsaw Chapter, we hope to join our forces and organize even more interesting programs and events for our guests visiting us for homestays in the future. We plan to hold a joint chapters meeting in the beginning of September to establish and develop our mutual cooperation.

Our chapter would also like to join PTPI's Language Ambassador Program in 2008 and we appreciate any help of experienced chapters. We would also like to encourage all potential teachers to contact us directly or through the office in Berlin.

Marek Sadowski

Interlaken, Switzerland

Homestays for Student Ambassadors, July 11-14

PTPI's Interlaken/Berner Oberland Chapter welcomed a group of Student Ambassadors again this summer. Twenty families from Thun to Oberried hosted 38 student ambassadors and their 4 teachers from Florida from Wednesday, July 11 to Saturday, July 14. Because school vacation had just begun it was really difficult to find enough host families. Many chapter members, and members of our Family Club were already on vacation. Finally, thanks to ads, innumerable telephone calls and letters to schools, we managed to arrange Homestays for all the Student Ambassadors and their leaders with well-known and newly-won families. As is our custom, they were all invited to a Host Family Meeting where we provided detailed information and answered questions about Homestays.

On Saturday morning, we practiced ten songs accompanied by guitar and piano for an hour. Before lunch, we performed our songs for the elderly residents of the Artos Center Hotel and old people's home. The goal was to create a cultural exchange with music and discussion and to bring some joy to the elderly residents. It was a great achievement for the students, supported by their hosts and teachers. After lunch, the group headed off toward France, the next stop on their European tour.

Overall we got positive feedback from the host families. They reported that having additional information in advance about the students would have been helpful. We've been trying to get this kind of additional essential information about the individual students from America for years, alas, without success.

The students especially liked playing with young people their own age and with younger kids in the families. They appreciated the back yard barbecues, barbecuing at the lake and just having some time to chill out in the quiet and cozy comfort of the host families, especially after the strain of seeing so many famous sights before the homestays. Instead of big excursion, the families mostly chose smaller walks.

All-Swiss Meeting on the Schynigen Platte, Saturday, August 11

All week we watched the weather with anticipation: It had been, in turn, cold, cloudy and rainy over the Bernese Alps. But on Saturday morning, August 11, when our chapter hosted the annual All-Swiss Meeting on the Schynigen Platte in the Bernese Alps, the mixture of bright sun and cumulous clouds was story-book perfect. Members of the PTPI chapters in Zurich, Bern and Interlaken met at either the train station in Interlaken or half-way up the mountain, from where 20 of us took an old wooden steam train clip clop up the mountain.

We enjoyed breathtaking mountain views, and the wild flowers of deep summer, sprinkled with cozy conversation among PTPI members from YGs to, eh, "seniors." At the end of the train ride we enjoyed a multi- course meal at the Schynige Platte Restaurant, where each chapter reported on their activities for the past year, and their plans for the coming year. The restaurant has a 180 degree view toward the Jungfrau, Eiger and Mönch, which teased us, winking from behind the clouds.

We were blessed with glorious weather for our walk up to the top of the Schynige Platte, from where we could see the mountains above and beyond, and the beautiful twin lakes below, from which our Chapter (Inter-Laken) gets its name. Chapter members identified their houses far below, scattered around the lake. The afternoon was capped with an informative and jovial tour through a protected Alpine garden, where endangered plant species are further developed, and where we learned how such plants and flowers survive the Alpine winters and summers, and the myriad uses (e.g. medical) for many plants. It was especially interesting to learn about the relationship of the animal world with its grazing needs and the plant world with its needs for reproduction; and that some plants grow better among their own kind, while others grow better in "mixed communities"

New Project: Firefighting Gear for Albania

Thanks to the efforts of our Chapter Secretary, who is herself a member of her local firefighting organization, we have the opportunity to give 40 sets of "gently used" firefighting gear to a firefighting organization that can make good use of them. Since the local firefighters received new gear for the squad, they can give away the old gear. We found a grateful recipient: A well-known PTPI member from Tirana would be very happy to receive all our old firefighting gear for their fire department in Albania. Currently we're looking for possible means of transporting this wonderful donation. Especially helpful would be people or organizations that would be willing to take on the relatively high costs of transportation. If this project could be realized in the next few weeks, this would be a great close of our summer program.

Ernest Wälti and Ronnie Blakeney

Pécs, Hungary

English Language Summer Camp PTPI's Pécs, Hungary Chapter hosted the English language summer camp for European youth "East met West" at Lake Balaton. Twenty-one young people, aged 14-16 years, from nine different European countries gathered at Balatonmáriafürdő, Hungary from July 29 to August 7, 2007. The purpose of this meeting, organized by PTPI's Pécs Chapter, was to get youth from eastern and western Europe closer together by using English as a common link, and to give them an impression of how Peace through Understanding can work.

The participants came from Albania, Russia, Hungary, Croatia, Sweden, France, Poland, Slovakia, and the Ukraine. The programs offered to them included communication orientated English language lessons, workshops, excursions and free-time activities. Teachers and camp leaders were from France with English as native language, Croatia and Hungary.

The kids enjoyed the beautiful surroundings of the camp, the venue being situated right by the lake, and had fun during excursions on bikes and by train, sailing, at the camp fire and during evening parties, where they learned about food, drinks and music from other cultures. They presented their countries performing songs and dances, including a "belly dance" shown by one of the Ukrainian girls.

At the Farewell Party, each participant was given a certificate stating that they had contributed to Peace through Understanding. Hans G. Randau, PTPI trustee and president of PTPI's Pécs Chapter, thanked the leaders, who had worked without getting paid, the kids, their parents and teachers, as well as the sponsors. He announced that in view of the great success of this camp, the chapter will repeat such meetings at least bi-annually. We invite you to visit the Web site www.ptppecs.hu/SummerCamp to view pictures and reports of the event.

Hans G. Randau

Roman, Romania

The summer holidays seems to be a good time for our intercultural activities. Our YG, Vadim Toader, participated in the European Youth Forum joining other enthusiastic young people from different European countries in an inspiring youth event on human rights and intercultural understanding. Two other young university members, Razvan Tofan and Madalina Apetrei, are representing us and PTPI's Iasi Chapter during the 3 weeks Italian Language Course in Italy, which is sponsored by the Council of Europe. Cosmin Tofan and Anamaria Ciocan visited Denmark and spent an unforgettable time with their hosts:

"The 8 days that we spent in Denmark seemed to pass so fast that we were rushing to savour every moment of our stay there. We have had the privilege of being hosted by two families during our stay, with which we spent a wonderful time that we won't forget. We saw so many things, so many. We thank PTPI and our homestay families for that and also for giving us a chance to experience the Danish culture and to interact with the people of this very unique and beautiful country, which by the way are very very friendly and speak very good English." Cosmin and Anamaria

For those who didn't have the chance to travel , we decided to host for a month a Language Ambassador and invited Ayaciuan Madrigal Rodriguez from Mexico, who brought us a colourful piece of Mexican culture and traditions. Language itself, food, drinks, clothes and dances. Thank you Ajax, you are now part of our PTPI Roman chapter family.

Starting September, we will go on with our "Education for all" project. The children have already been assessed and will start an individual language therapy with a specialist and with the support of our Peace Corps Volunteer, Sivan Tuchman.

Sorina Danciu-Roman

Šternbeck, Czech Republic

June 15 – 18: Preparation meeting in Spain: Two of our chapter members Helča Metelková and Eliška Vránová spent several days in the lovely Spanish town Tudela in the Navarra region (North Spain) and started to prepare the summer exchange program of the international project „We are walking together to change the World from Europe" Camino de Santiago!".

June 27: Painting the birds

July 18: Summer chimes

August 23: Fancy curtain of shells: Those three summer handcraft mini courses were lead by Jindra Smidova from Šternberk and all participants, children, young people and also the older generation, enjoyed creating something nice from natural sources. Our mini courses will go on during the whole year, so you can join us anytime.

July 24 – 26: Jeseniky mountains: Meeting of PTPI Šternberk Chapter members and preparation of outdoor activities for the participants of the summer exchange project in Spain. We spent a few days in the beautiful mountainous region in North Moravia walking with rucksacks in the nature and preparing our bodies for the hard pilgrimage trip in Spain. Everybody enjoyed that trip and we also used it as a teambuilding activity for our members and friends.

July 30 – August 5: European Youth Forum in Berlin: Marek Kasik, the homestay coordinator of our chapter, had the opportunity to take part in PTPI's EYF in Berlin and spent a very nice and interesting time together with the other 33 participants from all around Europe. As one of the leaders and trainers there, I also enjoyed that time so much. All of the participants had something to give and share with the others. I also learnt a lot from them, even if I was the "trainer." Our cultures, traditions, ways of lives and the views on life and the world's problems were quite different, but we found also a lot of things in common and that was really nice and motivating for me. I was happy to be there, to meet you all and to work with such an enthusiastic group of young people. Thank you so much to be like that and wish you all the best. Big thanks also to the organizers and good luck in the next projects.

August 9 – 29: We are walking together to change the World from Europe – Camino de Santiago!: The international summer exchange project with our Spanish friends from Tudela in the Navarra region started in the city of Oviedo 335 km far away from Santiago de Compostela. Our two groups of young people, between 16 and 26 years old, were walking together for three weeks the "camino primitive", the original trail of the well known pilgrimage in the Northern part of Spain. The mountainous regions of Asturia and Galicia were so surprising to us, beautiful nature, weather quite fine with some showers and cold nights, but during the day mostly sunny and warm. The project was not only about hiking, but also about spending time together and trying to follow the topics of the days like "How to save our environment," "Religions – the same or different," "Sources of life," "Culture shock" and others. We walked together, worked together, felt and thought together. It was a time of new experiences, making new friends, finding new ways, being tolerant, living easy, thinking about anything and ... feeling like a pilgrim. Our legs were sore every day and night, our bodies felt tired, our minds disappeared and came back again, our languages mixed up and our feelings were strong. This was the challenge of our lives, the right decision. After 16 days of walking between 18 and 33 km per day we arrived at the St. Jacobeo Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. We had reached our final destination, were happy and cried at the same time. Something nice is over, but we are here and something new will come to our lives. "Aaah! So, el Camino de Santiago was PERFECT and the people are so so so so so so so nice and friendly!," exclaimed Alberto, one of the Spanish participants. The Mass of pilgrims at noon was fantastic with a bit of silence for us and other pilgrims, time for having a rest, relaxing and just simply "being". On the last day of the trip, we visited Finistera, "The End of the World," where we really had some time to sit down on the beach, watch the waves in the sea and feel the fresh ocean breeze. This is how we will remember Santiago: there is a full moon above the Cathedral, romantic Spanish music all around and people are dancing, singing and feeling the spirit of that lovely pilgrim town. BUEN CAMINO!

We would like to invite you to visit our beautiful country, the Czech Republic, and have a homestay in Šternberk. If you are interested, please contact our Homestay Coordinator, Marek Kašík.

Please view the list of events and projects planned by PTPI's Sternberk Chapter in the section "Coming Events" of this issue. Also note that the chapter plans to update its Web site: www.ptpisternberk.org.

Helca Metelkova

Värmland, Sweden

August - the last summer month - has past. September is here and with it, the onset of the autumn season. During the summer months (rather cold summer months, I might add) from June to August, PTPI Värmland has not been as active due to the fact that these are holiday months. Swedes have at least five weeks paid vacation each year, and most people take them during these months.

I would like to announce that PTPI's Värmland Chapter is planning to arrange a dance and film summer camp in Sweden next summer, most likely in July or early August. We would like to hear from other interested European and American PTPI chapters that would like to partner with us. Please get in touch with Chapter President, Antoinette Mc Intyre-Andersson and PTPI Artistic Ambassador, IA Pettersson.

We have had a couple of PTPI members that have contacted us concerning homestay, and hope to be able to arrange this in the near future. Please contact our homestay coordinator, Jennifer Gamble-Tedenby.

One of our youngest members, Jacob Nilsson, and a friend, Alexander Branzell, had a great time at the International Youth Summer Camp at Lake Balaton.

Here is brief report of Jacob: "We arrived by train to Balaton Mariafurdu. When Alex and I arrived, we unpacked very fast and went to take a swim in the lake some 100 meters away. The water was not so clear, but it was fun because then you could pull the others from the camp under the water and play. The lessons were okay - perhaps a tad bit easy at the beginning. One day we took an excursion to a zoo/museum. The others went there on bikes except for me and Alex; we got there by tricycle. When we arrived, Alex met his new "best friend" who was a goat ;-)! It was really nice actually, when it did not try to butt us. We had a wonderful time at the camp and made many friends that we still keep in touch with by mail. Both Alex and I want to go back to this camp next year again! Thank you for arranging a great camp!"

The Nilsson Family took the opportunity to take a family vacation at the same time. Kristina Nilsson, Jacob's mother, states: "It was touching to see how good friends participants became after only one week and how difficult it was for them to depart from each other. Hans Randau and the other teachers and leaders have really succeeded in creating a successful concept for these youngsters. A big thanks to all of you."

I would like to express a big THANK YOU to PTPI's Pécs Chapter for arranging a top-notch (got top ratings!) camp.

Antoinette Mc Intyre-Andersson

Veszprem, Hungary

In April, six members of PTPI's Pécs Chapter visited us to meet our members and reinforce the contact between our chapters, which we were very happy about. They spent a weekend with us and we agreed on seeing each other several times a year. Two of us went to the summer camp of PTPI's Pécs Chapter for a few days and we had a wonderful time with the organizers and the children. The next trip to Pécs is planned for September.

In June, we hosted six members of PTPI's Arizona Chapter for four days, which was a big event for us as a new chapter. After our visitors had arrived, we took them to a barbecue at Gréta Kramlia's home who is one our student members. During dinner, we could get to know each other better. The next day our headmaster welcomed our guests and they visited our school. Then we visited the thousand-year-old abbey on Tihany-peninsula at Lake Balaton and enjoyed the beautiful view from the hills. Later we took a boat to Balatonfüred, a really nice town and swam in the lake. On the third day they could learn about porcelain-making in the world-famous Herend Porcelain Manufacture, which they found really interesting. Later on this day, we went sightseeing in Veszprém and had gulyás for dinner on a farm where we could also ride horses. Both the American and the Hungarian students were happy to try this. Before leaving on the fourth day, some of the guests came to our school again and met more students of ours. I believe this Homestay was a wonderful experience for all of us.

Marianna Hári