This week, we interview Polli-Jo Moryl, Director of the worldwide network of the Experiment in International Living (Federation EIL), a non-profit membership association, including inbound and outbound providers, which facilitates and promotes the work of its autonomous member organisations in 23 countries.



Can you please tell us a little about the history and aims of the Federation and the profile of its members?

The Federation EIL is the non-profit membership association, registered in Switzerland that represents The Experiment in International Living worldwide. Twenty-three autonomous national organisations participate in Federation EIL today. Collectively, these members form a worldwide network of The Experiment in International Living, a leader in international, intercultural, educational exchange.

The Experiment in International Living was founded in 1932 and was one of the first organisations of its kind to engage individuals in intercultural living and learning. Originating in the United States, the Experiment pioneered the homestay concept to the world – the goal was and is to develop understanding and respect for people throughout the world.

Federation EIL has held consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council since 1978.

We believe in building peace through understanding – all around the world.

What has the Federation been up to in recent months?

As you might imagine, with 23 organisations spread around the globe, there is always something interesting going on! Our members’ activities run such a range that it is difficult to narrow it down but for example: EIL Ireland was just shortlisted for five social media awards; our member in Spain just celebrated 10 years of being involved in with the European Union’s Voluntary Service Programme; and our organisation in Chile just sent a great group of participants from a disadvantaged neighbourhood to other members all around the globe.

We had a large delegation of members at the WYSTC conference in Dublin in September – this was an exciting industry event to be among colleagues and peers.

We are busy planning our annual General Assembly that will be hosted by our New Zealand member in May of this year. We are heading to Lake Taupo to conduct our yearly meeting.

In terms of numbers, have you noticed any trends within the Federation?

To give you some sense of the Federation, in 2013 our members sent more than 15,000 people abroad and received more than 7,600 participants. We see our volunteer programmes growing and the gap year seems to be a growing trend.

Are there any challenges or opportunities facing the Federation?

As a federation, we see that customised group travel has many opportunities at the moment. We hope to use our strengths – knowing and working with our on the ground networks and partners – to deliver programmes that are specifically designed to meet groups’ needs. The groups might be college students or retirees or people on sabbatical who want to volunteer and make a difference.

What do you have planned for the next year?

As a Federation, we have just elected our new Executive Board: Farah Cherif D’ Ouezzan from Morocco is our new President; Joshua Tripp of Mexico and Hiro Suzuki from Japan are our new Vice Presidents. Working with them has been a real pleasure. This year, our 23 members have committed to engaging in a strategic planning process. We are working with a well-qualified, highly professional group – Caplor Horizons of the UK. Together, we all look forward to celebrating our history while we determine our next directions. It is an exciting future for the Experiment In International Living. 

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