Amizade Update

by Amizade Global Service-Learning

Dear Friend of Amizade:

I’m writing from Kayanga, Tanzania, one of our twelve community partnership sites. The past month has helped me focus on the work with water systems and women’s rights we do here, and I’ve shared some of that in my blog: The time here has also helped me focus on the substantial work and cooperative efforts Amizade advances elsewhere. Please read on for inspiring updates and opportunities to take action.

Student-generated film
I’ve heard from Professor Jen Saffron, facilitator Monica Cwynar and their team of Amizade students as they advance through the final stages of a contest for student-generated films about American Democracy. Entitled, “Democracy: A Steady, Loving Confrontation,” their short film was developed this June as they interviewed and learned from historical and contemporary civil rights advocates throughout the American South. Take a look at the film and vote here: If their film is selected, it will be screened at the Democratic National Convention! Please vote now!!!

Volunteers are needed
I’ve also received emails from our community partner representatives in Jamaica and Ghana, Mr. Matthias Brown and Pastor Chris Nyame, respectively. They both sent many thanks and inspiring words of encouragement and cooperation, while also pointing out additional needs for volunteers. In Jamaica we have had an overall increase in volunteers, but this summer Amizade did not have a volunteer at the annual Association of Clubs’ summer camp for local children. In Ghana our partnership also continues to strengthen and grow, and Pastor Chris hears regularly from local schools and teachers about needs for volunteers to support classroom instruction. Individual volunteer placements are possible at each of those locations, as well as in Bolivia and the Navajo Nation, year-round:

Bolivia update
In Bolivia Professor Reinhard Heinisch of the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown recently oversaw a very successful month-long course on international development. In addition to studying the history and contemporary aspects of development while hearing from community partners and local experts there, he and his students cooperated with site director Ms. Jean Carla Costas and local masons to continue work on a school in Viloma. The school is nearly finished now, and with sufficient funding and volunteers we will begin construction on an elementary school in Malco Rancho in 2009. Keep your eyes open for volunteer opportunities there and elsewhere: Anyone can join an open volunteer program,, and groups of six or more may arrange a program of their own:

Navajo Nation update
From the Navajo Nation I’ve been glad to learn of a group of men in their fifties who will be volunteering through Amizade next month. They’ll be working with the Tuba City Senior Center on some construction needs while learning about Navajo life and culture. Five hours from Tuba City we have another partnership site in Crownpoint, New Mexico.

Professor Monica Frolander-Ulf, facilitator Jose Oquendo and a group of Amizade students recently returned from working with local partners Mr. Patrick Sandoval and Ms. Sharron Ettcity in Crownpoint. Together, we are working to ensure that Amizade’s emphasis on community-driven service and reciprocal partnerships is honored there, where service frequently focuses on listening to and learning from Navajo people and perspectives. Rather than repeating a long history of outsiders coming in to ‘make a difference,’ local partners challenge Amizade participants to listen, learn, and later share the experience with their own hometown community members to begin to communicate and share some of the Navajo experience in US history and contemporary life. While we are still working with West Virginia University on reviewing 2009 service-learning courses, it is likely that WVU Professor Dan McNeil’s course will be offered in Tuba City again over spring break:, and that many of the courses will be offered again with similar themes in similar locations

More Amizade news
I also recently spoke with Amizade Founder Dr. Dan Weiss and his wife and long-time Brazil site coordinator Ms. Geli Olivera. Geli hosted two volunteer groups early in the summer in Santarem, and they see many opportunities for continuous Amizade cooperation there with Pastoral do Menor and other partners. In Northern Ireland we’ve been privileged to work with Mr. Billy Kane, Ms. Carolyn Lowry, and Defenders to Menders locally while benefitting from Dr. Tony Novosel’s perspective as a US-based scholar. Our History of the Holocaust course drew on Professor Christopher Kopper’s expertise over the past weeks while students learned from historical sites and museums and cooperated in historical preservation service at Auschwitz.

OTO Ranch in Montana
Environmental preservation and historical restoration efforts at the OTO Ranch in Montana benefitted from cooperation with a group of Dartmouth Alumni in June. We are preparing for a week long volunteer program focusing on Hunger and Homelessness with our Washington DC partners in October: Many spaces remain open on that program.

Giving now to Amizade
Working with communities around the world and individuals who want to make a difference through cooperative efforts across cultures is an opportunity for which I am continuously thankful, and it is also an effort that is continuously challenging. Over seventy-five percent of our funding comes from the individuals who wish to take part in cross-cultural service and learning experiences, but we must still raise funds for community infrastructure projects (like schools and water tanks), to work to keep our program and course fees as low as possible, and to provide some students with partial scholarships to participate in intercultural exchange and service.

Planning giving and giving now to Amizade is more important than ever. The tightening of the global economy means tightening food budgets in the communities where we work, it means there may be less intercultural exchange overall. One of the many positive aspects of Amizade’s efforts is building peace by pieces and putting a positive face on American exchange. It is time for Amizade to rise to the challenge of continuing good works, service, and exchange even as the economy tightens. Please give now /store/donations.html or be certain to plan Amizade as part of your giving in 2008. This fall we’ll have concrete opportunities to give water tanks or help with school construction efforts in Bolivia as part of Holiday Season giving opportunities!

Thank you for reading and for supporting Amizade. Please enjoy the additional articles here by an Amizade student and about an upcoming Ghana program.


Eric Hartman

Executive Director