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The HERALD, After VSS Edition

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VSS 2012, 16to21 July, Latvia


September, 2012

After VSS HERALD

THANK YOU by The Prep Team

What’s in it? Edito.......................................................2 VSS by Participants..............................4 VSS by Trainers....................................5 Surprise...............................................10 VSS by Trainers part..........................12 See you Soon......................................16

The HERALD, After VSS Edition

Another Summer Summit has passed, with more than 200 days of preparation and over 800 emails written. It turned out to be a wonderful event with 170 volunteers representing 30 organisations present. The prep team was very pleased with the outcomes of workshops, as well as the common parts of the programme. Thanks for the contribution of everyone involved. Once participants left the prep team was left with evaluating the event and comparing their own evaluation results to the results of the trainers, support and participants evaluation. Thank you for giving us valuable feedback and constructive ideas for the next VSS. With this last Herald this year’s prep team says goodbye to all of you. We hope that you enjoyed the VSS as much as we did and we hope to see you again next year in Denmark. Thank you for making this year’s VSS an unforgettable one!

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VSS 2012, 16to21 July, Latvia


The HERALD, 1st Edition

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VSS 2012, 16to21 July, Latvia


MEET THE PREP TEAM January 18th, 2012

IMPRESSIVE VSS ! by Participants

"I thorughly enjoyed my first Volunteer Summit. To see 180, mostly young, AFSers as dedicated to enjoying each others company as to participate in serious discussions of global issues was impressive. For me, as a Trustee from the International Board, it was rewarding to discuss the Vision and Mission of AFS with so many interested persons. (When the participants were asked on the first day to stand up if they didnot know what the BoT ( Board of Trustees ) is doing, almost all stood up. On the last day when Paul asked the same Q, almost none stood. That really made my day.) After participating in Marin´s inspiring talk on how to set up a Chapter Exchange I immediately decided to start one with Gizem for Turkey on Integration of second generation immigrants. Who else wants to join? I am also grateful to the bonding excercise arranged by Annika, balancing on a thin thread in the woods, breaking two nails...Mehmet´s talk about Effectiv Counselling of Exchange Students was another hit as well as Lidia´s Russian dancing the last night and Seipati´s The HERALD, After VSS Edition

beautiful voice. Not to talk of the Latvian dances. Congratulations Ieva and teams for a stimulating Summit! See you all in Denmark! Madeleine

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VSS BY THE PARTICIPANTS September, 2012

«In the VSS 2012, I participated in the Human Rights Education track because of the interesting description on the VSS-Homepage – and must say that I wasn’t disappointed. I gained a lot of knowledge about Human Rights and realised once again that AFS is not only a language exchange organisation like many others. That’s why in my further AFS volunteering I’d like to focus more on AFS as a peace organisation and to point to the importance of intercultural learning and intercultural understanding for world peace.» Daniela This was my third VSS in a row. In the months before, I decided to do the Human Rights track because I have always been interested in that, but do now know much about it. This seemed like the ideal way to change that, and that turned out to be the case. I especially liked the ‘To vote or not to vote’ workshop. The community project was also a highlight for me, I was in the cutting and burning group, and I like burning bushes! And of course, I spent a lot of time with very good old and new friends, that I wouldn’t have met without the VSS! Tom Every time I go to one of these AFS/ EFIL events, my heart fills up with positive energy and my mind with new ideas and impressions. The multicultural discussions that we had both during workshops and in the jacuzzi, bring a feeling of beloning in this global society that exisits in the world. Therefore I also think that this years theme - globalization - was a perfect match with our volunteer work with AFS. I am now filled with new inspiration and energy that will help me in my volunteer work in Sweden and aswell with my studies at university. Thank you for a great week! Malin

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TRAINER’s OUTCOMES by The Trainers

AFS volunteers are global citizens!

by Viviana Galli “AFS is an international, voluntary, nongovernmental, non-profit organization that provides intercultural learning opportunities to help people develop the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to create a more just and peaceful world.” (AFS Statement of Purpose) Global learning and awareness about human rights are definitely contributing to the AFS mission and help the personal and social development of AFS volunteers worldwide. During the VSS 2012, many workshops tackled the topics of human rights, equality and social inclusion translating the AFS vision for 2020: “We endeavor to link our intercultural learning opportunities to the defining global issues facing humanity.” The AFS mission does not relate only to the exchange students, the development of knowledge, skills and understanding continues throughout the volunteers’ life and is a very important and integral part of the volunteer’s path and organisational development. From the various workshops a need for more attention to global concerns emerged, especially for 18+ participants and volunteers. It is important for those target groups to continue and broaden their learning process, connecting intercultural competences to other fields such as environmental issues, local activism, reaching out disadvantaged and excluded groups, human rights violations and sustainable development. The VSS seems the perfect place to start exploring such issues and connecting volunteers from around Europe which will then multiply the knowledge and skills acquired at national and local level, creating a global snowball effect. It is also important to always question what we are doing and the way we do it, not for the sake of criticism but for improvement and positive development. “As a learning organization, we welcome change and critical thinking.” (AFS Vision for 2020) This is for me one of the messages of the VSS 2012! The HERALD, After VSS Edition

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TRAINERS’S OUTCOMES September, 2012 The HERALD, After VSS Edition

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VSS 2012, 16to21 July, Latvia


TRAINERS’S OUTCOMES September, 2012

By Charlotte Klinting

Chapter Empowerment Volunteer force - motivation - geographical range sending - hosting - PR - fundraising - finances - structure - chapter size - age range - diversity - experience accessibility - goals - ... HOW ARE WE ACTUALLY DOING..? We all know that there is no universal recipe for how a chapter should look and work. While we share experiences and best-practices at the VSS, there is no real way to evaluate whether or not a chapter is well-functioning as they are difficult to compare. Participants at this workshop tried to come up with a graphical representation of a chapter’s functions and find a way to evaluate them. Inspired by a computer game, the diamond evaluation model was adapted to AFS and tested on the Riga chapter. The next step is to take this model and try to make it universal and less subjective by using indicators, criteria and ratios. Participants of this workshop have taken up the challenge and want to develop the model further and hopefully put it to use in the AFS chapter network and partner development efforts in cooperation with EFIL. The Chocolate Factory – How to do your own chocolate tasting session! In this step-by-step guide you can learn how to conduct your own chocolate tasting like the one the participants of the chocolate workshop tried. This will enable you to make others appreciate chocolate and become aware of the complexity that is behind this delicious product. WHAT: Chocolate tasting is about exploring the diversity of the chocolate. Therefore you should choose chocolates that are different in production, origin, type of cocoa bean, and cocoa percentage. You can also theme your tasting sessions to see the differences between amounts of cocoa or try chocolates with the same % but different origins, or finally try single origin; chocolate made from beans originating from different countries. WHEN: A tasting should take place during mid-morning, when you are between meals and taste buds are still fresh and undisturbed. HOW: Break the chocolate into small pieces and have a plate for each sample. To make it more interesting, don’t let the specifics of the chocolates be known to the audience. Start with the chocolate with lowest percentage of cocoa and work your way up. Go back to the first chocolate in the end, if possible, to taste the difference. Serve the chocolate at around 20 degrees; that way it is not too soft but not too hard to be able to melt on the tongue. DONT: - Drink coffee or smoke cigarettes before a chocolate tasting; your tastebuds would be numbed or too influenced by other tastes to tell the chocolate flavors apart - Never have more than six kinds of chocolates, as your taste buds will have been too exposed to too many flavors and won’t be able to tell the difference anymore.

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VSS 2012, 16to21 July, Latvia


TRAINERS’S OUTCOMES September, 2012

REMEMBER TO: - Clean your mouth with water and eat cucumber or white bread in between chocolates; it helps to neutralize the mouth - Do your homework on chocolate beforehand - Write down the observations GOOD TO KNOW: There are two types of cocoa beans; “Bulk” beans and “Noble” beans. Bulk is most often a cocoa bean called Forastero, which 80-90% of all chocolate is made of. The noble beans Criollo, Trinitario and Arriba are made from more fragile and rare trees and you can detect more taste notes than bulk beans. 5 STEPS: 1. See The chocolate should have a smooth surface. If it dusty or ash white, it has been kept in the wrong temperatures. A strong shine reflects welltempered chocolate, that has been kept dry and away from heat. 2. Feel Chocolate, should be firm to the touch. Fine chocolate should not feel greasy, grainy, sticky or waxy. When you touch fine dark chocolate it should hold its shape a few seconds before melting. 3. Listen When you break a piece of chocolate you can listen to the snap (called the “craquant”) - it should be fast, clean, crisp and make a snap sound. 4. Smell Smell the chocolate while it lies in your cupped hands and try to define the aromas, before tasting it. There are over 600 different aromas, which are the first ones you smell? 5. Taste Take a small piece of chocolate at the time and let it melt on the tongue. Let the chocolate cover all areas of the tongue to activate the different taste buds. Notice how the front of your tongue tastes sweetness, then saltiness, sourness and finally bitterness. The taste notes develop slowly, so start by defining the overall taste note and then the sub-tastes. ENJOY!

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VSS 2012, 16to21 July, Latvia


SURPRISE September, 2012

WHAT TO REMEMBER !

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VSS 2012, 16to21 July, Latvia


SURPRISE September, 2012

WHAT TO REMEMBER !

The HERALD, After VSS Edition

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VSS 2012, 16to21 July, Latvia


TRAINERS’S OUTCOMES September, 2012

What to keep in mind when hosting Asian students, by Pop Thiwawong - Be patient - Avoid asking the direct yes/no question but to ask more open end question for example instead of asking Do you like this food, you can ask what do you think about this food. If it has to be with yes/no question, tell the students that it is ok to say no and the answer No will not hurt anybody’s feelings. Tell them that it is also ok if sometimes later they change their minds. The most important thing is to give them some time for the decision. This seems very hard for both sides but it will work and the outcome really worth it. - Do not correct them in front of the others because they will lose face and feel extremely uncomfortable. Better to talk about it with them alone. The most important outcome from this workshop is that one must not generalize the stereotypes of any cultures. It depends largely on the family and social background. Asia is sooooo big and each country has their own culture and values. Even in one small country like Thailand, there is a huge difference between the culture of people from Bangkok and the rest of country. All outcomes: ! This workshop is aimed to familiarize the participants with the differences between Asian (Southeast and East Asian) and European cultures in the general and AFS context. The participants and the trainer shared the experiences and ideas about this issue. The participants are then expected to be able to approach the cultural differences with Asian students with the wider views and to be able to sympathize with the Asian students. The trainer also shared the different views of Asian culture from being Asian and has lived for almost 5 years in Europe. Here is the outcome from the workshop! Here are some examples of what the Asian culture is known for: 1. Respect for the elders: That is true! For example in Thai language, Thais call the other by addressing the title first which depends on the age of the interlocutor. Trainer (23 years old) would greet a participant, whose name is Joey (27 years old), Hello my older brother Joey. For this reason, Thais already have to adapt themselves already by just calling people’s names which sound very rude for them. 2. Not all are equal: This is partly true. In Japan, South Korea and mainland China, men tend to have the higher position in the society. In Thailand, men and women are more equal in the society. It can be seen in Thai language ex. the word “river” in Thai consists of the word “mother” and “water”. However, career and money play the big role in Thai society. Those who work at construction site are regarded and treated very differently from those working in offices. 3. Not showing emotion ex. covering their mouth while laughing?: Well, in Asia, to express your emotion especially anger in the public means that you are weak person because you cannot even control yourself so how can you control the other things. In contrast with the European cultures where showing your anger can be regarded as positive in some contexts. This might explain why Asian students cover their mouth while laughing. Mostly we do not realize it and do it automatically. There is also a saying in Buddhism that if you are happy, be prepared to be sad one day and if you are sad, be also prepared to be happy one day too. 4. Politeness and not talking a lot? : Yes, we are polite but we do talk a lot but maybe not that much with Europeans. Why? The language barrier plays the big role in it and because our cultures are so different, we do not know what might be interesting for the others in the discussion so we would sometimes be rather quiet and listen in order not to bore the others. 5. Collectivism: Yes! For example in Thailand during the meal, everyone has their own plate of rice and everyone shares the meat, vegetable and soup in the middle. So when we eat we have to pay attention to what the others already ate. The HERALD, 1st Edition

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TRAINERS’S OUTCOMES September, 2012

5. This way we know if we eat for example meat too much or not so that the others can have meat in the middle as well. 6. Indirect answer, Yes or no? : Why do Asian students say yes even though they do not really mean it and ends up just laughing which drive European host family mad? There is no direct answer to this issue. (you see, I am Asian :D) The thing is Asians tend to think a lot the feeling of the people in conversation and in general. If you offer something to them and they say yes, it can also mean that they are grateful already for your offering and to not hurt your feeling, they say yes to accept it. Everyone seems to be happy at the end except the Asian students themselves if they really do not like it or host families who has to guess if they like it or not. Sometimes it is also hard for us to decide individually because in Asian culture the decisions are made in group. Once we are put in the situation where the individual decision has to be made, it is hard and takes time for it. So what to keep in mind when hosting Asian students: -­‐ -­‐

Be patient Avoid asking the direct yes/no question but to ask more open end question for example instead of asking Do you like this food, you can ask what do you think about this food. If it has to be with yes/no question, tell the students that it is ok to say no and the answer No will not hurt anybody’s feelings. Tell them that it is also ok if sometimes later they change their minds. The most important thing is to give them some time for the decision. This seems very hard for both sides but it will work and the outcome really worth it. -­‐ Do not correct them in front of the others because they will lose face and feel extremely uncomfortable. Better to talk about it with them alone. The most important outcome from this workshop is that one must not generalize the stereotypes of any cultures. It depends largely on the family and social background. Asia is sooooo big and each country has their own culture and values. Even in one small country like Thailand, there is a huge difference between the culture of people from Bangkok and the rest of country. The energizer song that we sang and dance in the beginning and between breaks: 1. The chicken is dead (English version) The chicken is dead, the chicken is dead – It will be grilled, it will be grilled Grilled on the left, Grilled on the right – Very hot, very hot, very hot! 2. Wei Wei (the exorcism song also in English version) Krab Sawadee Krab I am good boy, have no problem (x2) Eyes, ears, nose, mouths, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, eyes, ears nose, mouth, eyes (x2)

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VSS 2012, 16to21 July, Latvia


TRAINERS’S OUTCOMES September, 2012

MIGRATION PROBLEMS Pop from Slovakia was our trainer on a special workshop that dealt with the migration problems, especially in Europe. I chose this workshop as I have already done some research about the topic and find this issue very important in Europe nowadays. I have been faced with prejudice before and find it is very crucial to talk about that subject even more and to find roots and possible solutions to prejudices among European nations. Pop's workshop has also helped me to understand better where and why people tend to migrate and in which migration group do they belong (asylum seekers, low-paid workers, refugees etc.). The constant need for immigrants in Europe is creating a multicultural society, where it is important to behave and act as a global citizen rather than being nationalist. This leads to AFS mission which, sometimes forgotten, also focuses on peace education. Pop made us discuss some of the challenging questions. „ Are there too many immigrants in Europe ? “ – this was not easy to answer; maybe you find it easier than I did. Even though it is mostly forgotten that the nations with the greatest immigrant share in population are not even located in Europe (Gulf countries, Malaysia, Thailand, Canada, Australia…), it is often emphasized that we Europeans have to carry the biggest burden of all. The EU plays a tremendous role in intercultural learning on a European level. Non-European immigrants make bigger and bigger share in the population. Their cultures and believes differ even more than the inter-European ones. AFS should, together with the EU and other EU-sponsored agencies, take its role as a peace association and enhance even more the importance of creating peace through intercultural exchange programs. Toni Požar, AFS Croatia

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VSS 2012, 16to21 July, Latvia


TRAINERS’S OUTCOMES September, 2012

by Dulio Santos A whole month has gone since the end of the VSS. We’ve had, now, plenty time to rest and recover from this legendary summit and all the of it’s post-VSS rejoicings. We’ve now, also had, some time to reflect on all the things we´ve learnt and all the things we said we were to develop. It’s now time to put it all into practice, and not allow any of those beautiful things we´ve shared at the end of the VSS to fall into forgetfulness, and become no more than lip service. “The Great Paradigm of Sustainable Development” On this workshop the participants developed a draft guide-line with some ideas for a Sustainable VSS. We shall carry this work on for it is very incomplete. Although, I like to think the solutions for many “challenges” may become quite easy... therefore, we invite you to join our Facebook group “The Sunflower’s sustainable wish” and, together, help next year´s VSS prepteam´s work and be part of an even more sustainable VSS. “Revealing Poverty in Europe” By now, all of you should have received the little reminders you wrote to yourselves. Those little post cards that you wrote during the workshop and send it to yourself or AFS offices etc. If not, don´t worry. They were sent. In this workshop we did a little simulation where participants had to work out a plan to re-establish the balance of wealth and power in the “little society” represented in that simulation. The brief words bellow, written by one of the participants from that workshop, give us a small perspective of what happened, as well as, some of the reflections that were triggered during the workshop. «The gap between rich and poor grows exponentially.Depressing statements like this make us feel ashamed, but quickly we forget the issue. In a simulation, we tried to divide society’s money by using coins. As a result of us not being willing to share what we collected, some of us ended up cramped into the shower while one participant was entirely privileged; he got to be in the sauna, had access to fresh fruit, water and so on... We as AFSers often claim not to be selfish, but to volunteer for a higher mission. Does each one of us, as well, profit from people being symbolically cramped into showers? We may not be able to change society – but as AFS we can have a huge impact.» Anne T. Zerr (Germany) Let’s start suing it!

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SEE YOU SOON September, 2012

SEE YOU SOON !!!!!!!!

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VSS 2012, 16to21 July, Latvia


Thank you so much for being part of the VSS history. It was such a thrill to host you in Latvia Wish you all the best in Denmark in 2013 !!!


Design : Joshua Fitoussi/ Text : Inga Menke,Madeleine, Daniela, Tom, Malin, Dulio, Charlotte,Pop, Viviana/ Pictures : Balazs Lato, Joshua Fitoussi, Lucija Rosane, Katrine Ozolina, Inga Menke

VSS Herald 7th - Post VSS  

What happened at the 5th VSS that took place in Latvia in 2012? Read the latest issue of VSS HERALD 2012, get some testimonials from trainer...

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