World Services of La Crosse, Inc.

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Summer 2014 Newsletter

Building Peace
Continuing projects demonstrate value of systemic approach

Tanya Kan of Kyrgyzstan epitomizes the long-lasting results that come from international exchanges.

World Services of La Crosse first encountered Tanya, a compassionate and dedicated woman, in 2010 when she participated in “Youth Volunteerism in the Community,” a USAID-sponsored Community Connections program organized by World Services.

As manager of a nonprofit organization that serves Kyrgyz children and teens with hearing disabilities, Tanya was looking for ways to better integrate her clients into the larger community. She visited the Midwest as part of the program and learned new ways to integrate volunteers, technology, businesses and events as well as develop leadership skills. Upon her return to Kyrgyzstan, Tanya successfully organized aid to deaf and hearing impaired children through grants from the Swiss Embassy.

That was four years ago, but the relationships and vision established then remain relevant. Her success has empowered advocates for other children with disabilities such as cerebral palsy, and she has formed a consortium of partners to expand community services for children with autism.

Today, completely outside the formalities of any grant or formal program, Tanya is again communicating with World Services as she works to build additional connections—connections that will help her boost fundraising to expand programming for the children and teens she serves.

“[My experience with World Services] greatly changed my life and views on many processes,” she writes. “Largely thanks to the experience I got with you, work with my foundation has received an extra boost.…”

Connecting Communities
Voluntourism paves road to peace

By Sandra McCormick, President and CEO

For many families, summer means vacation time. And for an increasing number, that represents an opportunity to help others.

Humanitarian tourism — or voluntourism as it’s now called — has grown significantly in the past decade. According to GeckoGo, one in 20 Americans have taken a humanitarian or mission trip, and Mintel International Group Limited reports one in three adults say they want to take one.

Many, from young families to senior citizens, have expressed an interest in mission trips, but they don’t know where to start. They’re wise to be careful. As altruistic as voluntourists’ intentions may be, they won’t protect the travelers from unscrupulous opportunists or scammers. They also won’t keep voluntourists from doing more harm than good. Read more.

Save the Date
November 7, 2014 Global Initiatives Kickoff Luncheon

World Services is bringing Sister Cities International President and CEO Mary Kane to La Crosse, Wis., this fall to kick off the area’s Global Initiatives Week. Kane will speak about the role of sister city relationships in establishing new economic partnerships.

The luncheon will be held on Friday, Nov. 7, 2014, at noon in the Banquet Room at The Waterfront Restaurant and Tavern. Cost is $20. To reserve a spot, please call World Services at 608-781-4194 or email us at

Call to Action
Home hosting lets you travel the world—without leaving the U.S.

If you can’t get out to see the world, bring the world to see you! World Services of La Crosse is making that possible once again this September when it brings 14 people from Eastern Europe to La Crosse—each of whom needs a home host.

The first delegation includes eight Russian guests visiting September 3-10. These medical and nursing professionals are leaders in the Bristol Myers Squibb-funded cancer care project in the Moscow and Saratov Oblasts of Russia.

World Services will also be hosting six visitors from the Republic of Georgia this September 19-27 through the congressionally funded Open World program. Home host stays will be a valuable cultural complement to their professional exchange focused on civil service reform.

You’ll get to know more about Russia and the Republic of Georgia while also seeing the United States in a new light. It’s a great way to travel the world without ever leaving your home state.

For more information about home hosting, please contact Deborah Lutjen at World Services, 608-781-4194.

Point of Protocol
When dining with Georgians

Dinner time in the Republic of Georgia is considered a chance to get together and enjoy one another. While you should feel relaxed when dining with Georgians, you can put them at greater ease by observing a few of their mealtime customs.

First, keep your hands above the table when you are eating (though the American no-elbows rule still applies) and don’t drink wine without toasting someone first. Also, if a Georgian cooks for you, take small helpings at first. You’ll be offered second and even third helpings. Accepting them will please the cook.