Winter is starting to get a grip on my country. Several inches of snow are expected in the next few days – it will start to look like Christmas soon. I know that there are several chapters who will celebrate this together. PTPI's Berlin Chapter is one of them inviting you all on December 7.
I would like to give my deep gratitude to the members of the Berlin Chapter for making our Annual Board of Trustees meeting in September such a great event. Many of our European members received awards and made us all proud. Mr Lech Walesa was there to receive the Eisenhower Medallion – it was interesting to listen to him, wasn't it?
This time of the year it is always fun to start dreaming of future trips together with PTPI friends. I hope that you have all started to make preparations to come (why not the whole chapter?!) to the 2008 European Conference in Rimini in May. I think that we all are going to be in for a treat.
I know that our chapter in Céret has put in their candidacy to host the 2009 European Conference. Last time we had the conference in France in 2001 you saw a few strange Vikings on stage pitching for the conference to be held in Sweden the following year. Any other chapters interested? Please let us know.
Tomorrow I am off to Morocco. A last minute decision – and my first thought was of course to look up our two chapters there. I would love to be able to see them. I hope that you contact chapters in the areas where you will be traveling in the future. I'm sure they would love to host you for a homestay, dinner or why not just a cup of coffee. Homestays are something very special. I am glad to be hosting our MD of European Operations in Stockholm in a few weeks. It is always a treat to see each other, enjoy a meal together and catch up on the latest news.
By the way, the office of our World Headquarters has just relocated. After 20 years on Armour Boulevard "our family" has grown out of it. They have moved into new quarters on Main Street in Kansas City. We wish them a smooth transition.
Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year, and hoping to see and hear from you all soon, I remain,
Your humble friend,
Rolf G Dahlberg, President of PTPI's European Council
Account of PTPI's Global Youth Forum in Chicago, USA - My Thoughts and Impressions
In November, Bogdan Gumurzhi from Kurchatov, Russia (15 years old) participated in PTPI's Global Youth Forum. He was selected as a participant on the international student panel along with 10 other young people from around the world. Bogdan shares his experiences here:
This year, I was granted the honour to participate in the Global Youth Forum and to speak on the International Student Panel.
My school is participating in the School and Classroom Program. Last year, we had our first achievements in cross cultural communication. That is why my participation made our school community and our town so excited. I must confess, I had no idea before going to the USA how beneficial my participation could be for my school and local community.
First of all, I would like to thank the GYF team for the challenging prep-work tasks – these thought-provoking research questions helped me to get a deeper insight into the problems of Uganda – a small African country torn by civil war. At the forum, we tried to find ways out of the situation by working out strategies to end the recruitment of child soldiers and to promote their reintegration into society. It is painful to realize that a lot of my peers in Uganda are affected by the war. They are deprived of the normal life we are living. Such vital problems left no one indifferent as a lot of like-minded people met in one place. And when so many like-minded people come together, I am sure it is possible to find new solutions to lasting problems.
Besides, I am tremendously thankful to PTPI for the opportunity to speak on the International Student Panel and to represent my country. I hope that other participants of the panel have learned something new about Russia and its people. I have never experienced such cultural diversity as on the Panel. Yet, I saw that we have much in common despite of all our differences. I am so grateful to International Student Panel moderator Brandon Wiley – he was always sympathetic, tolerant, kind and understanding. The questions, suggested for the panel, were very interesting. No wonder that the panel had such a great success. In general, I can't but point out that the atmosphere of the forum was filled with personal interest, open-mindedness, and sympathy to representatives of another mentality and culture. I was really excited to see that there are so many people who also try to think positively.
The PTPI coordinators were a friendly and very efficient team and did a great job during the conference.
I would also like to extend my deepest gratitude to Bill Mikolyzk. He was our group leader and it was due to his care and ability to integrate students into different activities that I really experienced a feeling of unity with my group. This feeling helped me to overcome the linguistic difficulties I had at first. I wish him good luck in the future!
Most of all, I liked visiting Stockton elementary school, where I had an opportunity to practically apply newly obtained knowledge and skills. This visit made me see that we, children of different cultures, still speak the same language when our interaction is based on sympathy and sincere interest in each other.
The Global Youth Forum is over now, and I am back to Russia. But I am a different person now. There is light of patience, friendship, kindness and sympathy within my soul. And I know that this burning light will help me to organize the life in my local school community in a better way, for I shall try to practically apply the new skills and ideas I got at the forum. I am making arrangements to organize a Student Chapter at my school now. I am convinced that the principles of PTPI will be my leading principles for the rest of my life. Peace be with you!
Bogdan Gumurzh, Kurchatov, Russia (15 years old)
For several years, PTPI has been able to recommend young members to participate in Council of Europe language courses. This year, three members were granted scholarships: Diana Belan (Moscow) for a French language course, Razvan Tofan (Roman) and Apetrei Aura Madalina (Iasi) for an Italian language course. Apetrei sent us a short report about her experience.
First of all, I want to say that it was one of the best experiences I have ever had. I learned so many new and interesting things and I met so many students from other countries who are now my friends. I do not have words to express what I feel regarding my staying there, but I will try to make a short presentation about what we did in Levico, a very small but beautiful Italian town.
I am happy to say that in three weeks, I learned the Italian language very well and I want to thank my teachers for that.
I also had the possibility to go to Verona and to see the amphitheatre, a magnificent monument, and the house of Juliet. We went to Trento and Sirmione, two little towns, where we visited many interesting things. We had the opportunity to play volleyball with some students from the University of Bolzano and to practice a very interesting sport, canoe.
I learned about the Italian way of life: what the Italians like to do, to eat, to read... and now I can say that I feel closer to the Italian people. The food was great and our accomodation was awesome.
I want to emphasize how thankful I am for this opportunity!
Apetrei Aura-Madalina from Iasi, Romania
|December 6-16||PTPI Peace Camp, Egypt||PTPI World Headquarters|
|December 15||Brussels, Belgium – Christmas dinner "Gold and Silver"||www.peopletopeople.be|
|December 7-18||PTPI Global Peace Initiative, Egypt||PTPI World Headquarters|
|Dec. 27 – Jan. 3||Sternbeck, Czech Republick - "Let's do it our way" : exchange project for PTPI's Young Generation||www.ptpe.org/yg-program2007|
|March 15||Sternberk, Czech Republic – Welcoming of the Spring||Helca Metelkova|
|April 5-6||Sternberk, Czech Republic – Cleaning of the forest in Sternberk around the lookout Zelena Budka||Helca Metelkova|
|April 18-20||Sternberk, Czech Republic – Weekend activity in the forest: planting new trees||Helca Metelkova|
|May 2008||PTPI's European Conference, Rimini, Italy||PTPI European Office|
|May 16-18||Sternberk, Czech Republic – Waterfall III – rafting on the rivers of Czech Republic||Helca Metelkova|
European Conference in Rimini May 8-11
Our next European Conference will be held in Rimini, Italy. The invitations will be sent out in mid-January.
European Conference - Preliminary program
|Thursday May 8 - Optional Program:||Day Excursion to Ravenna, Youth/YG Meeting, Informal Dinner|
|Friday May 9 - Arrival and Registration:||City Walk/s, Board of Trustees Meeting, Opening Ceremony|
|Saturday May 10 - Council Meeting:||Council Meeting, Chapter Fair, Conference Dinner in Villa Verucchio|
|Sunday May 11 - Excursion and Departures:||Half-day Excursion to San Marino, Departures|
There will also be homestay and/or day hosting in Italy. Exact time and location is still to be decided. All conference details will be available on the Conference website.
European Chapter Updates
During the fall, PTPI's Galych, Ukraine Chapter was closed. We thank Vasyl Ukhman for the work as chapter president.
We are happy to report that there is a new student chapter in Varna, Bulgaria. Before the end of the year, we expect two more student chapters to be chartered: in Pécs, Hungary and in Katowice, Poland.
New Address for PTPI World Headquarters
PTPI World Headquarters has relocated to a new office. The new address is: People to People International, 911 Main Street, Suite 2110, Kansas City, Missouri 64105-2009, USA.
During the fall, PTPI's chapter presidents received invoices for the membership fee. In Europe, each chapter decides on its local fee. Of this fee, three Euros will be paid to PTPI for adult chapters and two Euros for student and university chapters. The fees were decided by the members of the European Council at the European Conference in Interlaken last May.
Board of Trustees Meeting
At the end of September, PTPI held its annual Board of Trustees meeting in Berlin.
During the meeting new trustees were elected. From Europe, there were four new members on the 173 member large board:
- Sorina Danciu, Roman
- Martine Honegger, Bern
- Cynthia Lewis, Brussels
- Evis Sferdelli, Tirana
Also during the conference, the PTPI Eisenhower Medallion was awarded Lech Walesa, former President of Poland and Nobel Laureate. From Europe, the following members were recognized. Congratulations!
|Distinguished Service Award||Mr. Rolf Dahlberg, Stockholm|
|Board of Trustees||Hans-Dieter Robel, Berlin|
|National and Regional Council||Ms. Cornelia Siegenthaler, Bern|
|James T. Doty Memorial Award||Ms. Stoyka Bakalova and Ms. Zina Lubenova, Plovdiv|
|PTPI's Roman, Romania Chapter|
|International Visitors Program Award||PTPI's Bern Chapter|
|Student Chapter Outstanding Adult Advisor Award||Ms. Ganna Chuiko, Kiev|
|School and Classroom Program||Yerevan School #43 After Gregor Zohrap|
|Award of the Chairman of the Board of Directors||Peter Whitby, Chester|
Language Ambassador Program
For 2008, PTPI will continue to promote the Language Ambassador Program. Chapters who would like to participate in the program are encouraged to contact PTPI's European Office. The participating chapter may host a language teacher for 2-4 weeks. The chapter needs to offer accommodation and pocket money for food during the program. The teachers, who do not need to be teachers by profession, pay the trip to the chapter and teach part time during the stay. For a detailed program description, please visit: www.ptpe.org/language-ambassador.
European Program Fund
All chapters may apply for support from the European Program Fund. The European Executive Committee (EEC) decides on allocation. Applications can be sent to PTPI's European Office.
US Group coming to Europe
Starting in mid June, a group of eight PTPI student members from California will visit five chapters in Europe during a two-week tour. The purpose is to reach out in friendship to students and adults in other countries and cultures by participating in homestays and performing community service or humanitarian work. The chapters the group will visit are: Berlin – Gliwice – Budapest – Sternberk – Prague.
International Visitors Program – 2008
Many chapter and members participate in PTPI's most popular program, the International Visitors Program, or "Homestay Program." You can read about the experiences in the chapter reports. For 2008 we encourage chapters to contact each other for continued and increased exchanges.
The program offers a cultural interaction from both visitors and hosts. A homestay usually lasts a few days. A list of all chapters offering homestay can be found on the PTPE Web site: www.ptpe.org – chapters. All chapters should have the homestay manual. If you don't have a copy, please contact PTPI.
At the end of August, we visited PTPI's Hannover Chapter and its city. Our hosts were Andrea Knappstein and Julia Dittrich, members of the chapter, who welcomed us and guided us through the city.
On September 8, our chapter made a day trip by bicycle and boat to the lakes "Uckerseen." The trip was prepared by Dagmar and, as always, very well organized. We also benefited from the guidance of Christa and Peter Hattendorf who know the most beautiful places in the region after having frequently spent some enjoyable times there.
A week later, there was the Day of Voluntary Work in the district Charlottenburg, Berlin. We were, as in the previous years, represented with a stand.
It is very interesting to see how many organizations there are in Berlin whose members use part of their free time to do good things voluntarily. During the fair of organizations, thanks to the support of some of our members, we were able to bring our activities closer to the visitors by talking to them and disseminating our brochures.
On September 22, we organized a "Colourful Evening in Pinellodrom". The idea came from Jacopo Mauro, PTPI member from Florence. Accompanied by his pianist, Ivan Yankow, Jacopo sang for us some famous Italian opera songs. To complete the program, member Björn Truelsen impressed us with some of his magic tricks.
In spite of our tight monthly schedule, we also hosted the Board of Trustees Meeting, which took place September 27-29, in Berlin. Many of our chapter members were involved in the preparations as well as during the meetings.
On October 12, we started an extensive trip to the very energetic city of Barcelona with a group of chapter members. From Barcelona, we travelled by train via Tour-de-Carol and Villefranche over the Pyrenees to Céret in France, where we had homestay. The trip to Montpellier that was planned for the following days had to be cancelled due to the strike of the railway employees – this time in the south of France. We thank our hosts in Céret very much for accommodating us even longer than planned and for providing for us such unforgettable days in this small and so idyllic town just by the Pyrenees.
At the end of October, Daniel Schaubacher, president of PTPI's Brussels Chapter, attended a congress in Berlin, which enabled us to arrange a visit with him and spend some time with him before he returned.
A year full of activities is now behind us. We have the pleasure to invite you to an enjoyable Christmas dinner on Friday, December 7, at 18:30 in the restaurant Glocke. To all members who can not come to this event, we wish a New Year full of happiness and well-being.
Hannelore Büchler, President
PTPI's Bern Chapter has just held its fourth and last executive board meeting of 2007. This was a good year for us, and very successful. During the European Conference in Interlaken in May, we were pleased to host several guests from the USA and Eastern Europe. In July, we hosted three groups of Student Ambassadors, and at the Board of Trustees Meeting in Berlin, we were honoured with the "International Visitors Award." Many thanks go to our Homestay Coordinator Ulrich Krebs.
At the Trustee Meeting in Berlin, we were able to meet representatives from Ulsan, Korea, with whom we discussed the possibility of establishing a special "sister-chapter" relation. As a result of the meeting, a delegation from Korea is planning to visit Switzerland next May, possibly in connection with the European Conference in Rimini, May 8 - 11, 2008. Eighty people attended our traditional Summer Party, held at a historic farmhouse and museum, with dinner and good conversation for all.
Otto Burri, President
From November 10-17, PTPI's Blagoevgrad Chapter organized an anti-racism and anti-nationalism campaign under the motto "Enjoy the Difference" along with the international NGO "UNITED" and the help of the Jewish Community in Bulgaria.
A two-day workshop, lectures, round table discussions and a bowling tournament were the events that framed PTPI's one-week campaign to fight against anti-Semitism at the American University of Bulgaria (AUBG).
We prepared a simulation of a concentration camp in the rooms and basement of the American University in Bulgaria. A World War II survivor, Mr. Samuel Frances was a guest lecturer and shared his experiences in Bulgaria at the time of the war. Participants talked about their experiences related to the anti-Semitism topic.
The lecture series of the third annual anti-racism campaign organized by the chapter commenced on November 12, with an exhaustive overview of the problem of ethnic antagonism by Philip Dimitrov, former Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria and currently a professor at the American University in Bulgaria.
Mr. Krassimir Kanev, the Chair of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, gave a lecture on anti-Semitism in Bulgarian culture. Mr. Kanev elaborated on the cultural class and religious preconditions for the existence of anti-Semitic movements in general and to what extent they can be found in Bulgarian history.
At the closing reception, the chapter president and dean of students spoke about the positive effect of the campaign, in which around 50 students had actively participated. The last event of the campaign was the Second Annual PTPI AUBG Chapter party.
The huge success of the campaign drew the attention of many people to our chapter. Every single day students from our university, as well as from other universities are approaching us willing to join PTPI.
Thanks to publications and reports from all of the biggest national media (newspapers and television), our project managed to reach a wide target group, not only the Blagoevgrad community, but people in the whole region and even from further cities in Bulgaria.
Brussels, Belgium Top of Page
Literally dozens of visitors stopped by the People to People Belgium Chapter's booth at the Welcome Fair, October 20-21, at the Autoworld Cinquantenaire Jubilee Halls of Brussels, to inquire about cultural, social and humanitarian activities in which expatriates and newcomers to the European capital can join and actively participate. Contacts were renewed or newly established with a number of other exhibitors, such as goodwill and social clubs, service companies and tourism agencies.
Every year, thousands of international managers and employees arrive in Belgium. The Welcome Fair has been created for newcomers who need to find an answer to 1001 questions about this country. It is a unique source of information for newcomers and expatriates. PTP Belgium is grateful to PTPI World Headquarters and its European Office in Berlin for the display materials and publications they sent. In addition, hand-outs and special flyers featuring information about activities of PTPI's Belgium Chapter in French and English were distributed. The Welcome Fair is organized annually by Belgium's leading newsweekly magazine, read by 55,000 people, The Bulletin.
Daniel Schaubacher, President
This fall was very busy for us, but at the same time, it was a real pleasure to receive two groups for homestays. We hosted the delegation of PTPI's Berlin Chapter, led by Hans-Dieter Robel, as well as a group of six sixth formers from Cheadle and Marple near Stockport, Cheshire.
The Berlin members were ideal ambassadors for People to People. Initially, they meant to stay with us for three nights, but due to the French national train strike, they extended their visit to one week. During this one week, we showed the Berlin Chapter members the Art Museum and the old town, the wonderful seaside resort of Collioure with its famous cloche, the beach at Le Racou and Argeles, county town of Perpignan. We also had some wonderful Catalan meals accompanied by Catalan Sardane music and traditional dances. The best thing of all was that we were able to use this occasion to clarify the objectives of PTPI. The Berliners were classified as top notch visitors who did such a good job renewing relations with many people in the town who are interested in speaking German and visiting Berlin, so that we now have 50 adult members and a new board who all volunteered for the job and shortly coming a new student chapter headed by our Namibian pupil Twele Wakolele.
The subsequent homestay with the English high school went very well with our new head offering free lunches at school.
On November 24, preceding our annual Christmas Dinner the following Saturday, we had an excursion with the partially sighted. Christine guided the way for Michel, Noelle and the other participants to CAIXAS. We certainly admired Harry and Marianne from Berlin who travelled all over with their chapter very courageously despite their restricted vision. We do hope they will return to Céret and walk with our partially sighted members to encourage them to travel. I always look on the bright side, so lots of wonderful things happen to me. TO YOU ALL TOO I TRUST, just see the wonderful things in life dwell on whatsoever makes you and others happy!
Anne Hawksworth, President
Two members of our Chapter – Dan Popescu and Svetlana Siretanu – have participated as volunteers in the International Work Camp "Sensitizing people regarding the situation of Roma people from the Republic of Moldova through practical and thematic work," which took place in the Calarasi Region, Urasi Village, from August 16 to September 1 with the financial support of Spolu International Foundation.
The purpose of the project was to mobilize and involve Roma people in solving their community problems, identifying and valuing their own sources and in promoting their culture and history.
The main activity carried out by the volunteers was the renovation of the primary school in a community of around 350 Roma people where 20 children, ages 7-12, study. Some of the volunteers organized small activities for children living in the community. PTPI's Chisinau Chapter has donated a Panasonic tape recorder to the Dance Department of the School of Art from Cojusna Region. This was possible with the help of our member Dan Popescu, who is teaching choreography in this school together with Victoria Acciu. The director of the school Tatiana Jereghi has expressed her appreciation and thanked the office for this donation.
On November 1, thanks to the initiative of the singer and author Alexandru Vdovicenco, the first charity concert of the project "A song for their happiness" took place with the participation of Moldovan singers. The money gathered from selling tickets and other fundraising was donated to a center for children with disabilities. The contribution of PTPI's Chisinau Chapter was the following: Doina Cernavca, member of our Chapter, was the coordinator of this project. Liuba Botnari, Chapter treasurer and also the coordinator of the media project "music.md," advertised for the concert during two weeks via Internet without charge. Other members have attended and enjoyed the concert.
Hosting, hosting and something more: After a spring and summer full of exceptional challenges for the Board and the membership of Chapter Interlaken/Berner Oberland (hosting the European Conference, the All Swiss Annual Meeting, and organizing homestays for groups and individuals) things have finally quieted down a bit, but not for long. We've already received requests from student groups from Malaysia and from the USA who want to plan European tours including homestays in Interlaken/Berner Oberland. That means we will have to find about 40 host families for May and July 2008, which, as many of you know, requires endless rounds of telephone calls, and also, in the case of new host families, personal visits. Additionally, both student groups are requesting one of our special offers during their stay: a visit to a local school, an old-people's home, or an organized festive evening. In recent years, we've offered our young visitors the opportunity to be of service to the host community in such ways as taking wheelchair bound elders for a walk, or preparing songs and an entertainment to share. These activities have been met with great approval of all sides. They do require a good deal of preparation and organization, however.
PTPI Friendship helps protect fire-fighters: Fire-fighter outfits and protective gear for 40 fire-fighters, donated by the Fire Department in Toffen, are finally on their way to Albania. PTPI's Tirana Chapter is waiting eagerly for the arrival of the much needed fire fighting equipment.
Annual Chapter Meeting Plans: Plans for our Annual Meeting in February are fully underway. Our tradition for the Annual Meeting is to offer something interesting and original to accompany the business agenda, and then to end the meeting with a shared meal. This year, again, we've chosen something "athletic" and yet "different" - a Curling lesson.
One small step towards transparency: We've written job descriptions for the various board of directors assignments for the first time. This internal document will be used with the new Board of Directors' Constitution beginning in 2008. This document can be made available to other interested chapters.
Spreading our circle of friends: Happily, we've broadened our chapter's territory. We now have many Chapter Members as well as Family Club Members from Thun (the gateway to the Berner Oberland) to Oberried on the Lake of Brienz, and even up to the Haslital, a further wonderful area of the Oberland.
Ernest Wälti, President, and Ronnie Blakeney
Katowice, Poland – in formation
Here we are!
We are very happy to inform you that we managed to start a student chapter in Poland: PTPI's Silesian Student Chapter in Katowice.
As for now, we have 15 members and we hope that soon more people will join us. At our first meeting, we have elected the board of our chapter and we made a general plan of our actions for the next few months.
Our first activity will be to take part in the "Writing Letters Marathon" organized by Amnesty International in Poland, which takes place on the weekend of December 1.
We also decided that we would like to find a Sister Chapter somewhere in Europe, so if anyone is willing to cooperate with us – feel free to write!
We have started our year with a meeting where we discussed what had been done and our plans for the future. Our adult adviser Kateryna Romanova who had participated in the European Conference, made a presentation. She told us a lot about other chapters' work and activities and showed us photos from the conference. It was very exciting to see! Our students were very interested in the Sister Chapters Program. We are eager to start communication with any chapter from Europe or anywhere else. Kateryna also encouraged our new members to participate actively in the work.
During the conference, Kate got acquainted with an officer from the Croatian student chapter. We therefore plan to get in touch with them and organize something together.
Also our ex-president Irina Minkovskaya came to the meeting to tell us about her participation in the European Youth Foum "All Different All Equal" this summer. Irina showed us photos and told about activities.
This year, our chapter decided to concentrate on promoting peace in the world. At the end of the previous school year we celebrated an anniversary of the victory in World War II. During the festivities we tried to show the miseries that wars bring to people. So this year we began to tell our students about a youth underground organization called Young Guardians which acted in the town of Krasnodon during World War II.
On September 14, our students together with the Regional Youth Affairs Committee organized a rally devoted to the memory of young guardians. Young people ages 20-25 from Kiev and Kharkiv participated in the rally. We have also a museum devoted to Young Guardians Organization in our school. Students of our school showed the exhibition to our guests.
On September 21, we participated in a meeting devoted to a hero of World War II, Commissioner Bakulin. Our school provided children brass band and presenters for the meeting.
We also organized an exhibition of children drawings "My Native City." Now we are preparing to celebrate Days of Peace and children are making posters, pictures and drawings devoted to the event. The motto of this event is "Let's Maintain Peace in Sake of Future."
Ludmila Bodyak, Adult Advisor
After a long summer break during which we were very busy with the youth summer camp, international visitors, etc., the chapter members met again on October 4 to discuss about new projects. A board meeting took place on November 8.
We welcomed three new adult members and one youngster. The most exciting news is that one of our new members, Ágnes Pásztor, a language teacher in one of Pécs's high schools, is working on organizing a student chapter. Of course, we are very happy about this. In addition, our endeavours continue to establish a chapter at the local university. Contacts were made with different persons and groups where we could present our chapter and its activities. Among other things, we were invited to talk about PTPI at the occasion of the "International Education Week" held at the so-called American Corner based in the International House in Pécs, to which we are closely connected (www.americancorner.hu).
We have just started to send out invitations to embassies and consulates to join the "Meet the Diplomats" program. Hopefully, one or another of their staff will show interest.
Some of our members would like to visit the chapters in Berlin and Brussels for a long weekend next year. In turn, we will receive visitors from PTPI's Berlin Chapter in mid-June.
We are still trying to organize a communication-orientated English language course for our members during the cold season. As a corporate member, we joined the "Pécsi Fecskék" movement (swallows), a group of people striving to improve citizens' engagement in environmental and other issues.
Hans G. Randau, President
After the intense summer program, PTPI's Roman Chapter carried on with its Education for All Project, providing individual speech therapy for eight children with Down syndrome and autism. However, we noticed that kids miss their interaction with other children and our YG volunteers so we have decided to come back to the old format of the previous Saturday School, organizing also a Christmas party when our little friends will receive presents from Santa. We will also offer and decorate a Christmas tree and ask Santa to visit 20 children at a local school for children with special needs.
We also had time to have some fun when the YGs organized a Halloween party. Thirty happy students attended. On December 1, the World AIDS Day, the YGs are planning to organize an awareness raising campaign distributing information fliers and red ribbons in high schools, in the town and for pedestrians in the town center. Our chapter also supports the Academic Debate team from Roman Voda National College – Arts & Crafts Club – which is now preparing a public strategy debate with the topic "Local community should implement more efficient programs to integrate the Roma community."
At the end of such a dynamic year, we will gather to have our traditional Christmas Festive Dinner and the YGs Secret Santa event. We wish a Happy New Year to all our friends around the world!
Šternbeck, Czech Republic
September 21 – 23: Feedback and Comeback: The autumn came so fast and we had our traditional evaluation meeting, which is every year called "Feedback and Comeback." This year, it took place in our capital Prague and we had a great feedback by all the participants of the summer exchange project. We had walked together to "Change the World from Europe – Camino de Santiago." At the same time, there was also the meeting of PTPI's Šternberk Chapter and we had a wonderful time together. One of the participants in the project in Spain, Javi Pardina, came to visit us and enjoyed the weekend in Prague with the others. We discussed all the necessary staff details and had some time to see all the pictures and videos from our project. We also worked on the preparation of the slideshows of the pictures from the Camino de Santiago and on the photographic exhibition of the project at schools and galleries in the Czech Republic. This weekend was really relaxing and we shared our wonderful memories from the summer in Spain.
October – December: Exhibitions of Camino de Santiago! The exhibition is called "The Spanish village for the Czech pilgrim" and was already held in the Grammar School in Šternberk from October 15 to 19. Our members Marek Kasik and Terka Svedova talked about the whole pilgrimage trip and showed the pictures and video from the journey from Oviedo to Santiago de Compostela. The following week the exhibition moved to the II. Primary School in Šternberk and Tom Studeny was the one who explained all his memories and experiences to all students there. We have also been presenting the pictures in the Youth Information Centre in Prague for one week in November. At this moment, the exhibition is moving to Šternberk Augustinian Monastery and will be presented from December 3 to 16. At the official opening on December 4, Eliska Vranova and Helca Psejova, two of our pilgrims, will share their memories with a slideshow and video projection. Then the exhibition will move to the Grammar School in Letohrad and after one week the pilgrimage trip will be presented in Šternberk again during our YG PTPI Project "Let's do it our way."
October 19 – 28: Welcome to Rovaniemi – Lapland: Helca Metelkova – me – as a president of our chapter and also a group leader during our projects, had the chance to visit the very beautiful part of Northern Europe – Lapland. I participated in the ATOQ seminar – the Advanced Training On Quality for youth workers and leaders from around Europe, including Turkey. It was such a good experience. I met a lot of interesting people, hardworking volunteers and all the enthusiastic people who work with young people around Europe. I was so surprised about the quiet nature, food, and people in Finland. Everything was new for me even though I have already travelled a lot. This training showed how to work better with youngsters, how to lead them to active participation, how to prepare and organize a good youth exchange and how to make our work more efficient. It was a wonderful group and I met some new friends there. I came home with new ideas, with a new view on stereotypes and on other cultures and with some deep lovely sense for Finland. It is a nice, clean place with lovely people and I hope it will last forever and there is more places like that in the world.
Since October: Spanish lessons! After the great motivation in Spain during our summer exchange, we started to organize Spanish lessons in our chapter club room. The lessons are lead by a young Czech teacher with a good knowledge of the Spanish language. You can join us any Thursday starting at 8pm.
November 20: Czech National Agency of Youth – competition: Our YG group participated in the national competition of photographs, video and presentations from the youth exchange projects during the year 2007. The competition was organized by the Czech National Agency of Youth in Action Program in Prague. Our YG group had several pictures and one video in the competition. And we were successful – we won the third place with our video projection from the project Camino de Santiago! So, congratulations to the whole group and also many thanks to Uli (Martin Ulicnik) for the hard work done during the project and after.
November 23 – 25: MINI-MAXI or the other way around: From Friday to Sunday our chapter organized a YG planning meeting for the project "Let's do it our way" and also the general meeting of our Šternberk Chapter. The action called MINI-MAXI, which means "Mini Training" and "Maxi Meeting" or the other way around, was held in Šternberk and the main topics were preparation of the YG project in December, preparation of new projects and activities for the next year, learning of new methods for youth workers, slideshow of the pictures from Finland, other members staff and necessities, and finally the celebration of Marek's birthday. This group meeting was hard on the one hand, but very fruitful on the other hand. Things got done and there are new plans for the future, which is very good. Thanks to all who came and participated actively.
November – December: Halloween and St. Nicholas: There were three handcraft mini-courses during these two months in our chapter club room. We had a chance to decorate our own batmans, pumpkin ghosts and Chinese lanterns to be prepared for the Halloween party. In the middle of November, we met again and put all our efforts into decorating glasses with glass colors. The St. Nicholas course is just behind us and we had a great time with a lot of children and families coming. On December 2, candles were shining and our two singers sang Advent songs accompanied by the guitar and mandolin players to prepare people for the romantic Christmas time. Our friend Jinda Smidova worked hard for several hours and led the course, painting wooden birds, decorating cotton bags, making Christmas tree decorations, shell curtains and the Advent wreath as well as singing songs. This time of the year is just like that or it should be. I wish that you all have the same lovely time with friends and good people around.
Homestay program is still the best for PTPI's Tallinn Chapter – we host our foreign guests and like to visit other PTPI chapters abroad since 1993. It was a great pleasure for Ruta Pels and her husband Leonid Smulski to have a homestay with Claudia von Ellerts in Zurich before the European Conference of PTPI this year. Ruth van der Loo, Anna Buhler and Otto Burri organized great trips for Ruta and Leonid in Zurich's surroundings, Lucerne and Bern.
In November, Ruta had a great experience visiting PTPI's Brussels Chapter during her study trip to the European Parliament and Commission. Together with Blanche Decoster, she visited a Christmas concert and Indian dances for a charity NGO. The president of PTPI's Brussels Chapter Daniel Schaubacher and his wife invited Ruta for a dinner at his place for the Club of Rome members who participated in the "Beyond GDP Conference" on November 19-20. We had a very interesting discussion about global problems this evening. Ruta and Maarja Toots were invited to the luncheon of People to People Belgium at the Hotel School Restaurant La Marjolaine where they met many PTPI members from Brussels.
Katerina Savinova from PTPI's Tallinn Student Chapter hosted Annick and Pierre Debien from PTPI's Angoulême Chapter from June 1 to June 6. Valeria Krassilnikova hosted Anna Bühler (from Lucerne, PTPI's Interlaken Chapter) from August 13 to August 22. Anton Vydrin participated in a meeting with 40 Americans as a representative of PTPI on August 6. Katerina Savinova, Aleksei Smulski and Ruta Pels met a group of People to People Ambassadors on July 19-21 in Tallinn. The group was led by Elly Washington, who is a teacher and member of PTPI's Stockton Chapter in the US. For two days, Aleksej hosted PTPI's Narva Student Chapter President Kristina in Tallinn.
Pavel Smulski, Youth Coordinator of PTPI's Tallinn Chapter, led a group of five young people from Tallinn, Narva and Sillamae who participated in a "Youth in Action" program in Madrid, from November 8-18.
PTPI's Tallinn Chapter and PTPI's Tallinn Student Chapter participated in Global Education week with New Age language school in November. The Estonian chapters also participated in the activities organized by the Round Table for Development NGOs.
Ruta Pels, President
Eagles members having fun and doing good work - SOW mission and visiting children in the day-care centre
I'm happy to share good news about our work in Srednja škola Oroslavje. Our members made a mural in September and sent it to the Mural Art Exhibition in Kansas City, but we have also been doing many other things.
As we have been collecting plastic bottles since the beginning of the school year, we wanted to do something more for the planet Earth. Therefore, one Saturday morning, the Eagles chapter members gathered on the town square and not even the fog nor low temperatures could have forced them to stay in their warm, cozy homes. They were on their first mission of SOW: Save Our Woods.
They had organized themselves well, handing out leaflets to their town residents and sticking them on the walls of buildings and noticeable places. They also had an ad on the local radio station, so no one could have said they didn't know about the project. The students managed to fill up a large paper container. They managed to convince the town people that they were doing everything in their power to stop wood deforestation and also their homes from wasted and unwanted newspapers, magazines and office material, and indeed they saved 20 young trees from being cut down.
A lot of people helped Eagles chapter members to carry out this activity from the school but also from the town and we are very grateful to them: Marta's aunt, for example, who spent most of Saturday morning "tidying up" the archive of a large town firm, or even the town mayor who, on his way to do business, found some time to stop by at his office and give us a large pile of old papers nobody needed anymore.
It took us just a short time to continue with our humanitarian work. Our member Sandra said, "What a poor man who hasn't got anything childish left inside!" And indeed, we visited two to five-year-old children in our town day care centre. We staged Cinderella in English, since most of them are familiar with the story and we wanted to give them a taste of English. Afterwards, we treated them to famous children songs and the children clapped their hands or made the moves like their older high school friends, who they were looking at in admiration. At the end, we treated them to sweets and parted promising that we'd come soon and visit them again. I was amazed when I saw how much fun our members had too, not just the children.
Marina Krsnik, Adult Advisor
We would like to inform you about a recent activity of our newly formed PTPI chapter – "The Dolphins" in Varna, Bulgaria. As vice-president of our student chapter, I am proud to announce that we held our successful initiative on October 13.
A group of eager PTPI members participated in a cleaning effort in partnership with the Bulgarian representative Foundation of the WWF. We collected litter in the "Golden Sands" nature park, which is situated near my hometown Varna.
This peaceful and precious piece of land is subjected to vandalism, as tons of garbage is poured in the forests of the park. Early in the morning, 13 enthusiastic members, ages 11-17, gathered near the park.
Eventually, we were joined by approximately 30 volunteers of other NGOs, including the celebrity, previous pop star and now a TV showman Kamen Vodenicharov. It took us five hours to achieve an obvious success as we packed more than 90 kilograms! This initiative was crucially important and beneficial as we succeeded in raising awareness of the environmental issues in our living area.
Benefits of the cleaning effort:
We established new and valuable contacts.
Our attempt resulted in popularizing the student chapter as during the whole event we had the sign of PTPI and the name of "The Dolphins" chapter on badges.
We not only took a picture with the above mentioned celebrity, but also evoked his interest in the purpose and beliefs of PTPI, which is by far not that well known in Bulgaria.