Minutes of Fifth Meeting of VINN (Vermont International Nonprofit Network)

April 7, 2003 Salzburg Seminar, Middlebury 4 – 6 pm

1. Participating were representatives of 6 different organizations:

The following sent their regrets: 2. Networking: Each participant explained some of the recent activities of his or her organization. These included Salzburg Seminar’s inclusion of faculty from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Appalachian Colleges in their international seminar programs, Green Across the Pacific’s recent visit with a Chinese colleague to the US National Science Teachers’ Convention, and the Rohatyn Center’s setting up of impromptu events with a Middle East focus. A theme which emerged from everyone’s comments was increased concern about finding effective ways to engage Americans with the rest of the world. We used this as the “shared information – practical issues” topic of the meeting.

3. Shared Information – Practical Issues - How to encourage Americans to become more broadly international?
All contributed ideas in a brainstorming session. These included:

  1. using shared passions (for example, membership in choirs, or interest in field biology) to make connections to people in other countries. The point was made that for many people who have not been abroad before, even spending a few days in another
  2. continuing and increasing support for early study of foreign languages;
  3. promoting public service opportunities in foreign countries, such as Volunteers
  4. ‘taking advantage of visitors’ – arranging speaking and visiting opportunities for foreign visitors to Vermont, to give stay-at-homers the chance to interact with foreigners
  5. explain what is of value in America, to our foreign colleagues – be pro-active. Distinguish between current American foreign policy, and American culture and opportunities.

Ways VINN might organize along these lines:

  1. create a program designed to support cultural outreach in Vermont communities; seek foundation support
  2. meet in a group with state legislators to advocate for including the international dimension in educational and cultural programs
  3. support Title VI (which funds international education) on the federal level
  4. set up a ‘program on our programs’ - present to a school in a VINN member’s area
  5. Develop a set of speakers and topics, drawn from VINN members – promote on our website and in our brochure – be available to groups such as Rotary International which seek speakers on diverse topics

4. Shared Information – Regional Focus - China

Peter Lynch, of Green Across the Pacific, described several of their outreach activities. The format they have used successfully is taking things happening here (in the US, or in Vermont), and using them in the international context. For example, one group of American students researched the role of Chinese laborers on the US West Coast, and presented their project to a group of Chinese students in Guangdong Province. Another American group explained their research project on the effects of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, at the Japanese Museum of Peace. Peter emphasized that GATP maintains its focus on three factors: the reciprocal nature of exchanges between US and Asia, shared information and purposes, and environmental content.

Anti Mowrer of Animals Asia mentioned the long-term nature of working in China. Chinese government officials have been more open to animal rights/bear issues because of world attention on their country with the Olympics coming up in 2008. Animals Asia’s moon bear rescue center in Sichuan province is now a reality, after seven years of negotiating with governmental bodies. The center is a joint project of the Chinese Wildlife Conservation Association, the Sichuan Forestry Department, and Animals Asia. The goal of this center is to rescue 500 bears as the first step, and then to develop some opportunities for employment for the local population within the context of protecting the bears rather than exploiting them. This involves not only changes in government policies, but long-term changes in attitudes among the population. For her Vermont outreach, Andi is presenting at local libraries, working with teachers (K-12) and developing curriculum offerings that meet state educational guidelines by introducing students to the issues around animal protection in China.

All involved with Asian travel are concerned about the potential impact of SARS on their activities.

5. Brochure

12 organizations have confirmed their wish to be included.
11 have sent their mission statements and logos.
2 have already paid ($50, payable to ECOLOGIA, mark in bottom left of check, “VINN Brochure”).
We are planning for a “to the printer” date of April 21st. That’s QUITE SOON!! Each member receives 200 copies of the brochure – these will be hand-delivered or mailed, as appropriate. You should be getting them by early May.
If you wish to be included and have not sent in your statement and logo –please contact Carolyn Schmidt immediately. Ditto for your check!
Everyone will be receiving a text draft version for their comments and corrections, this week.

6. Progress Reports on Events Co-Sponsored/ Organized by VINN Members
The goal is to promote international awareness and involvement, especially through efforts to reach out to people searching for more global focus. 1. Rohatyn Center has a wide variety of presentations on international issues, all held on the Middlebury Campus, free and open to the public. Charlotte Tate passed out the list of everything scheduled through the end of this semester. Information is also available on their website (www.middlebury.edu/~rcfia) 2. ECOLOGIA is hosting a series of public seminar/discussions at the Middlebury Community House, titled “A Secure World – How Vermonters can preserve and pass along this legacy.” The first is by a former US diplomat, on “America’s New World Posture”. Free and open to the public.

7. New Item - Criteria for Membership in VINN– Call for online discussion 1. Consensus at the meeting was that we need to develop more specific criteria for membership, especially as we formalize VINN’s mission and publicity with the brochure as our next step. Suggested criteria for member organizations: a) Vermont connection (is a physical location in Vermont is enough by itself?) b) participation in VINN meetings, or other ways the organization adds value to the group, or to the state’s international focus and outreach c) significant percentage of its activities that are international in focus

2. We did not have time at the meeting to fully explore these criteria. We also need to hear from current members who were not at this meeting. Send your comments by e-mail to Carolyn Schmidt. This will also be placed on the next meeting Agenda.

8. Next Meeting: Tuesday July 1, 2003 at the offices of ISC in Montpelier. Note: We do not want to be “NWVINN” (northwestern Vermont international….), so are seeking to diversity our meeting places to include those from other regions. We hope to meet in Southeastern Vermont for the meeting after next.

Tentative Agenda, July 1 Meeting

  1. Networking / introductions of new members
  2. Shared information – practical issues
  3. Shared information – regional focus – China, concluding.
  4. Progress Reports on events co-sponsored/organized by various VINN members
  5. New items – speakers’ bureau, others
  6. Schedule next meeting