22nd Meeting of VINN
(Vermont International Nonprofit Network)

Wednesday April 12, 2006 pm
School for International Training, Brattleboro

Members Attending
Carol Casey, Vermont Council on World Affairs
Robert Clough, Dickey Center for International Understanding, Dartmouth College
Peter Lynch, Green Across the Pacific
Curtis Koren, Vermont Intercultural Semesters
Andi Mowrer, Animals Asia
Joshua Nelson, EARTH University Foundation
Bob Sanders, Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program
Carolyn Schmidt, ECOLOGIA

Visitors from SIT
Karin Plumadore, Assistant to the Provost
Gabe Bobar, graduate student
Daydon Harvey, graduate student
Haiminh Nguyen, graduate student
Kelly Nafie, graduate student
Richard Rodman – Professor of International Education and Cross-Cultural Communications
Rosemarie Schuette, graduate student

Peter Ames, Consulting
Roger Clapp, ISC
Peter Coldwell, VFP
Gwen Hallsmith, Global Community Initiatives
Meg Harris, Salzburg Seminar
Justin Johnson
Randy Kritkausky, ECOLOGIA
Katherine Long, VANPO
Phyl Newbeck, Vermont Teacher Diversity Scholarship Fund
BIll Ryerson, Population Media Center
Charlotte Tate, Rohatyn Center

Thank you to the School for International Training for hosting this meeting.


1. Networking & Introductions

School for International Training (host): Karin Plumadore, Assistant to the Provost, provided a summary of SIT’s activities. They currently have 90 graduate students in their MAT (Master of Arts in Teaching) program, and 132 in Intercultural Management. They have 400 Management students off-campus. They have 2000 undergraduates abroad, and are working to revise their Summer Abroad program. The World Learning Business Corporate Training program is located in Washington DC. SIT and World Learning are thriving, providing global and multi-cultural educational opportunities on the graduate and professional levels.

Three VINN members turned out to have ties with the School for International Training:

Vermont Intercultural Semesters – Curtis Koren discussed their cross-cultural program, currently operating in Ladakh (Himalayas), and expanding. The twelve Vermont high school students are learning about Buddhist culture, the Ladakh students are working on English conversation classes, and both groups are exploring radio and print journalism together. The Vermont group includes two teachers and an SIT intern.

Earth University – Joshua Nelson mentioned his good memories of participating in the Experiment in International Living (SIT’s program for high school students). Earth University’s programs at their campus in Costa Rica continue to grow, attracting students serious about sustainable forestry and agriculture, building their knowledge bases and entrepreneurial skills. Most of Earth University’s students come from tropical areas in developing countries.

Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College- Robert Clough noted that the Center continues to support Dartmouth faculty and students through funding and coordination of a variety of international activities. Dartmouth College students this year organized and ran their own Model United Nations conference for New England high schools. Robert is a former group leader at SIT/World Learning; he guided a student group to Japan in 2000.

Animals Asia – Andi Mowrer updated us on three projects. The group now has 200 members in Vietnam; moon bear-bile farming has been made illegal in Vietnam but still is practiced. In China, a successful Companion Animal Symposium was hosted by the Chinese government in cooperation with Animals Asia. And in Vermont, the Burlington Free Press covered the ‘traveling moon bear’ (a stuffed animal moon bear which is mailed with comments from one elementary classroom to another, as a discussion-starter and awareness-builder).

ECOLOGIA – Carolyn Schmidt described some upcoming activities, including participation in the next round of writing the ISO global social responsibility standard – a plenary session meeting in Lisbon in May – and work in a factory town in China to develop community participation and strengthen ties between workers, managers and local residents.

Green Across the Pacific – Peter Lynch described the steady development of his organization’s partnership with Champlain College, which will be involved in GATP’s 2006 Vermont-based summer program. GATP is increasingly focusing their students’ scientific field work on researching local environmental challenges and making connections to policy decisions. Their Chinese partners in Guangzhou had success when they documented problems with the fish population being damaged by pollution, and brought their proposal for improvement to the local government.

Vermont Council on World Affairs - Carol Casey summarized their spring and summer programs. They have an active international visitor schedule, hosting Moldovans (on the theme of state and local government), Middle Easterners (from Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Oman and Gaza) on sustainable development, and European trade officials. VCWA plans to host another Global Symposium this Fall, and is again promoting the Great Decisions Discussion groups.

Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program – Bob Sanders summarized VRRP’s mission and current challenges. VRRP provides direct services to refugees who are resettling in Vermont; they’re funded by federal and state grants. Since 1990, refugees entering Chittenden and Washington counties included Vietnamese, Bosnians, Sudanese, Congolese, and Somali-Bantu. The most recent group, Meskhetian Turks from Krasnodar Russia, is being resettled in Waterbury and Barre. (As a Russian-speaking Islamic people of Turkish ethnicity, they’ve been subject to persecution and violence in their home area of Krasnodar, which is why the US government approved them for asylum in this country.)

VRRP engages local organizations to explain the refugees’ needs, and works with the refugees to support their efforts to gain employment and become self-sufficient. Bob noted that Vermont businesses are working to have more of an international focus, and that Vermonters generally are finding that the refugees have a great deal to offer our own communities. Difficult issues that VRRP is dealing with include US Homeland Security Department concerns that people who have lived in refugee camps overseas may have provided ‘material support to terrorists’ in the process of survival – which would render them technically ineligible to enter the US legally.

2. Other Topics Discussed

a) The discussion of VRRP’s work resettling legal immigrants led to concerns surrounding the situation and treatment of illegal immigrants in Vermont, especially Mexicans who provide much of the labor force on larger dairy farms.

b) The continual stresses on non-profits who depend on writing short-term grant applications, and the increasingly steep investment of time and money in preparing proposals, are leading some organizations to a more serious ‘cost/benefit’ analysis before undertaking new proposal writing.

3. Global Citizen Group Awards - We have the date – Sunday June 18, 2:00 – 4:00 pm – for honoring Magicians Without Borders, Change the World Kids, and Village Harmony. Our planning committee (Meg Harris, Andi Mowrer, Peter Lynch, Charlotte Tate, Carolyn Schmidt) will work on the event details. Josh Nelson volunteered to assist with publicity, if needed.

4. Treasurer’s Report. All bills are paid. Balance: $53.96

5. Next meeting time and place: Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program, Colchester 4:00 – 6:00 pm, Wednesday July 26.

462 Hegeman Ave, Suite 101
Colchester, VT 05446
Tel. 802-654-1700

I-89 North past Burlington exits
Exit 15, right onto Route 15 E
Past Saint Michael's College (left) and Fletcher Allen-Fanny Allen (right)
Left at 5th traffic light into Fort Ethan Allen complex
Take 3rd right onto Hegeman Ave
VRRP is in the 3rd building on left (1st red brick building)