Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Blogger not working, Don't know why! Go to PICTURES link for Man Camp Photos, sorry!!!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Man Camp pictures coming soon...

Man Camp Funded!

Thanks to everyone who contributed to our Boys' Leadership Camp which will take place next week! Thanks to you all we achieved our goal well ahead of schedule and were able to take care of lots of details early to put us in good shape for the start of camp.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Boys' Leadership Camp, aka MAN CAMP!

Hello again, long time no see! But don't worry, I'm still here over in Kyrgyzstan and I've got a really great project that some other volunteers and I are organizing for this summer. Peace Corps Volunteer orgnized summer camps for Kyrgyz youth have become a kind of tradition in country. They're always fun, interesting, and give students an opportunity to learn from each other and have fun outside the classroom. However, usually these camps are dominated by female students, mainly because they are gernerally more active in class and are raised to be more docile and respective of authority than are Kyrgyz boys. It’s for these reasons that so many Volunteer led projects are focused on girls. But we feel it's for these very same reasons that a greater attempt must be made to include and inspire the young men of Kyrgyzstan.

With the help of a local non-profit health organization, “Joy Masters,” located in Osh city and the Kyrgyz branch of the Rotary Club, located in Bishkek, we have raised enough local money to request Peace Corps Partnership funds for what we hope will become an annual boys camp – The Boys Leadership Camp, or as we affectionately refer to it, “Man Camp.”

Many of you were generous enough to donate to my last Peace Corps Partnership project, the English Resource Center for Teachers and Students, which was a huge success and is currently being used on a daily basis by students at Ak Tilek school as well as teachers from across the county. To see pictures of the Center’s opening teacher training seminar, please click the PICTURES link on the right side bar at my personal web blog – gotwald.blogspot.com.

Also, because the Resource Center project was funded so quickly, (almost $2,000 in less than a month! THANKS!) many of you who wanted to donate were not given the opportunity. Below I have provided a short summary of the camp’s goals as well as the official Peace Corps approved proposal and finalized budget.

To donate, please click on the DONATE NOW link on the right side bar of my web blog at gotwald.blogspot.com. This link will take you directly to Peace Corps official website donation page for our project, entitled "Boys' Leadership Camp" - Project # 307-076. At this website, you can make a donation using your credit card. You may also send a personal check to:

Peace Corps
Partnership Program
1111 20th St. NW
8th Floor
Washington, DC 20526

If you send a check, please be sure to write our project title and number on the check!!

We've got just over 2 months to fund over $5,000, so please don't hesitate to make any kind of contribution you can. Tens and twenties add up quick! We've got ten Peace Corps volunteers all soliciting donations from friends and family. With your help, we will make this camp a reality!

Short Project Summary

Boys’ Leadership Camp is an annual summer camp aimed at promoting good values, leadership skills, and progressive gender roles to young men in the Kyrgyz Republic. Peace Corps volunteers will be assisting a local NGO in hosting the camp over the course of five days. Guest speakers will teach the fifty-five young men lessons on health, career planning, and proper treatment of women. Encompassing all these themes will be a central focus on leadership, and how a young man should carry himself – with pride, confidence, and optimism for his future.

Volunteers will attempt to foster an American summer camp mood at Boys’ Leadership Camp with the inclusion of cabin competitions through a variety of sporting events. Afternoons will be spent engaging in soccer, American football, basketball, and relay race events, culminating in a round-robin style tournament at the camp’s conclusion.

Gender development is an issue that affects the region, and one that Boys’ Leadership Camp will tackle throughout the week. Empowerment of women is a cause that has been taken up by volunteers in the Kyrgyz Republic for several years, but young men have been largely neglected. In an attempt to come full-circle with this issue, Boys’ Leadership Camp will take this task to the young men of the Kyrgyz Republic, instilling values that will allow them to succeed, and succeed with class.

Offical Peace Corps Partnership Proposal

Boys’ Leadership Camp
Arstan Bap Pensionat, Arslanbob, Kyrgyzstan
June 10-15, 2007

Community Leader: Laresia Antonivna, director NGO Joy Masters
Peace Corps Volunteers: Phil Johnson, Rick Gotwald, Matt Grandmason, Charlie Moyer, and Sean Thompson


The Boy’s Leadership Camp will be for 55 boys from the 7th, 8th, and 9th forms. The boys will be selected from among the students of participating Peace Corps volunteers, and will be from different areas of Kyrgyzstan including villages near Kant and Tokmok, Karakul, Toshkumir, and Osh city. In addition to the 50 students from Peace Corps volunteers’ schools, the Peace Corps volunteers in charge of facilitating the project have agreed with the Rotary Club to bring 5 additional students from Bishkek’s Voenno Antonovka orphanage to the camp. Students will come from a variety of backgrounds and ethnicities including Kyrgyz, Russian, Uzbek, Turkish, and Tatar. Volunteers will select motivated students who exhibit enthusiasm and interest. In order to ensure that each student is able to fully understand all the presentations and guest speakers, and also to provide the opportunity to attend to those who cannot speak English, the entire camp will be conducted in the Russian and Kyrgyz languages, with help from local translators when necessary. Therefore, knowledge of the English language will not be a factor in determining which students will be able to attend. The camp will be located in Arstan Bap Pensionat in the town of Arslanbob.

The NGO Joy Masters will work with Peace Corps volunteers to plan and conduct the camp. This organization is located in Osh and provides information and gives presentations to the community on health topics such as AIDS, STDs, and reproductive health, along with healthy lifestyles among youth. The staff is experienced in working at summer camps of this type, even working at the same pensionat for the past few years at a variety of different camps. In addition, they are well-versed in working with our targeted age groups as their work is focused on younger secondary school students. The director of NGO Joy Masters, Laresia Antonivna, will send four trained workers to Boys’ Leadership Camp to lead sessions in Russian and Kyrgyz.

We have seen a need to educate the young men of Kyrgyzstan on subjects that are beyond the scope of the normal school curriculum. Our aim is to help prepare these boys to become future leaders who have strong values and character. In addition, we want to provide information that the boys may not receive in their local communities. For example, we will have presentations on planning for the future, living a healthy lifestyle, and the treatment of women. Finally, we want to give these boys, many of whom have never left their hometown, the chance to visit another place, meet new friends from other parts of Kyrgyzstan, and have a week where they can enjoy themselves doing healthy, fun activities. Our hope is that this camp will be a life-long memory, and that it will help the students become more confident, knowledgeable, and capable. This will not only help the boys themselves, but also, in the future, their communities as these students finish school and become active community members and leaders. They will use the values we are teaching to be positive contributors to society, and will also be good role models for others.


In order to provide a well-rounded education for young men in Kyrgyzstan, our Boys’ Leadership Camp seeks to educate beyond the classroom. Many recent projects have targeted young female students, largely ignoring the young male demographic. Our project aims to foster strong values in young men such as leadership roles, character development, career planning, goal setting, healthy lifestyles/relationships, and proper treatment of women. Employing a curriculum that includes guest speakers, Boys’ Leadership Camp will provide its participants with strong role models and an opportunity to discuss issues concerning young men in Kyrgyzstan today. While the attainment of these values will be impossible to measure at the end of the camp, our goal is to provide numerous activities and sessions for the boys and we can base our success on participation in these. If students enjoy the activities and show interest in the information and discussion sessions, we believe we can consider the camp a success.


Running from June 10-15, Boys’ Leadership Camp will be organized to present themes of leadership, health, career planning and goal setting, and character building. Excluding June 10 and June 15 as travel days, we have allotted four days for seminars and activities for the students. Each day’s events will be centered around one of the key themes, highlighted by presentations by guest speakers and activities focused on reinforcing ideas learned in the sessions.

Sessions will be held in the morning and early afternoon. Each speaker’s timeslot will be determined at a later date. Lodging, meals, and classrooms will be provided by the camp in order to accommodate the guest speakers. Similarly, the students will be fed and housed on camp grounds. Each cabin of students will be supervised by two Peace Corps volunteers – one male and one female – who will oversee their students’ well-being throughout the duration of the camp, as well as providing a continuing example of how to interact properly with women. This interaction will not be overt, but more subtle, in hopes that the boys observe the way young American men treat their female peers – with class as gentlemen. In addition, a select few K14 volunteers will be invited to participate in the camp’s events so that they may gather information on how to continue Boys’ Leadership Camp next year.

Split by theme, each day’s events will focus on that day’s lecture’s highlights. There will be three primary teaching days on June 11th, 12th, and 13th. One day will be led by NGO Joy Masters, focusing on HIV/AIDS, STDs, and healthy lifestyles. Another day will feature sessions led by Peace Corps staff such as Marat Usmanov, Usubaly Primkulov, and Eldar Rakhimov. Each of these local men was chosen to present the students with fine examples of successful men in their fields of work. As local success stories, they will provide excellent stories of role models which our young men can aspire towards. Our third training day will have time allotted to a different NGO such as NGO Kompanion which focuses on democracy development, as well as presentations by volunteers. Agreements with NGO Kompanion have not been finalized as of this grant writing, but verbal agreements have been exchanged. Volunteer-led sessions will include sessions led by our female co-counselors and unique activities led by Brenda and Mike Parker. The boys will benefit greatly from learning fun activities from young American females as well as seeing the interaction between an American married couple.

Boys’ Leadership Camp will not be solely focused on seminars and training. Instead, camp coordinators will bring elements commonly found in American-style summer camps to Arslanbob, such as team sports and inter-cabin competitions. Daily sporting events will be held with Peace Corps volunteers teaching the students sporting techniques while encouraging an active lifestyle through sports. Good sportsmanship will be promoted through inter-cabin basketball, soccer, football, volleyball, and wiffle ball matches. Said sporting events will become opportunities for the students to relax after sessions and build friendships among their peers. Our final day, June 14, will culminate the weeklong sporting events with a round-robin style tournament involving competition between all cabins. Prizes will be given after the final leader board is tallied up.

Each day after sessions, cabin counselors will be given the opportunity to engage with their students in activities of their choosing. Due to the location of Arslanbob, hiking will be a popular choice, but other outdoor activities will be encouraged. The main objective of these free hours will be to build friendships among the boys in their own cabins, strengthening their sense of teamwork and unity. Entire camp activities will be planned by the Peace Corps counselors as well such as: group movie viewings, camp fires, and other group games.

At the camp’s close, final remarks will be given, camp grounds will be cleaned, and the students will be escorted to their respective home sites by the Peace Corps volunteers. Evaluation forms will also be distributed and collected prior to dispersing in order to better gauge success at the camp.

Note: I was unable to post the finalized budget on the blog, but if you would like me to send it to you personally, I would be happy to do so. Please send me a request to my email at gotwald@gmail.com.

Thanks again!


Friday, January 12, 2007

Happy Belated Holidays!

Hello all,

Hope everyone's healthy and had a great Christmas and New Year's.

Not too much news here. I've begun work on a US Aid funded grant for about $800 to provide the school with some new materials, including classroom and corridor light bulbs, new hallway curtains, a new chemistry laboratory and some new athletic equipment. I hear back about that grant on Februrary 9th. Will be sure to let you know.

I just posted some new pictures on gotwald.myphotoalbum.com. They include Christmas and New Year's at home with my host family, some of my students at their annual New Year's party at school, and also a New Year's/Christmas pagent that my students and I organized with the kids from School #4 in the neighboring town of Kant. Just click on the PICTURES link to your right.

Best wishes,

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

English Center Completed!

While unofficially the Center has been open and running for students at my school, Ak Tilek, for over a month now, we officially unveiled it to the English teachers of the Issik Ata county schools on Friday, November 24! Twenty-one English teachers from across the county showed up to take part in the Center's Opening Seminar which included methodology sessions from teacher-trainer and Peace Corps Volunteer Leslie Reed as well as an example 9th grade class taught by myself. After observing my open class, I familiarized the visiting teachers with all the available materials, including books, cassette tapes and CD ROMS. The teachers were allowed to peruse these materials, make copies, and schedule solo visits in the future to make further copies. Several teachers plan to come back this very week!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who contributed to this project and let you know that you have helped create an exciting new place for fun and learning for both teachers and students. Kyrgyzstan thanks you!

Please take the time to look at some pictures I have uploaded of the Center and the Opening Methodology Seminar. Just click on the PICTURES link to your right and choose the "English Center" album once you reach MyPhotoAlbum.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Opening Seminar November 1st

I'm happy to announce that the necessary funds have been obtained from the local village government and the iron bars have been installed on the windows and door of the Resource Center. We are now in the process of decorating the room and installing bookshelves. The opening date has been set for November 1st, on which day Ak-Tilek English Faculty and I will organize a teaching methodology seminar for the English teachers of the Issik Ata Region. I have already invited two professional teacher trainers, both American, from a prestigious private English training institution in Bishkek to take part in the seminar.

We are all very excited about the opening and I will be sure to update you all about it with pictures and details.

Thanks for your support,


Friday, September 22, 2006


Charlie, Amelia, and Jesika during Charlie's and my trip down south...seemed like a classic peace corps photo with the train tracks and the mountains...

Also from the trip down south...atop the Mountain of Solomon...
An oldie, but a goodie...my first turkey slaughter, back during training...

Well it seems now that about one post a month is all I'm capable of. However, I will do my best to make those rare posts full of interesting facts and engaging pictures...Lets's begin.

First off I'd like to make a brief comment about the Resource Center. Nearly all purchases have been made, including both computers, scanner, printer, stereo, books, cassettes and English language CD-ROMS. The only thing that has not been purchased is the large white dry-erase board and markers, which I have plans to go to Bishkek this week with my counterpart and buy.

Late last month I attended the annual meeting of all Issik Ata region teachers and addressed the over 40 English teachers as a unit. I explained that at my school, Ak-Tilek, we had recently obtained funds to create an English resource center for students and teachers and that once we opened this center, we would hold an introductory seminar to explain its purpose and how to use the new equipment. The teachers were very responsive and eager for the seminar to take place.

The reason we have not yet opened the Center is because we have been waiting for a small sum of money from our local village government to install metal bars on the windows and door of the Center's classroom to protect against theft. I have been assured (as much as possible) by my director that this week these funds will be obtained and that our Center's classroom will be secured by the first week of October. After the bars are installed and the Center decorated, we will hold a seminar celebrated the Center's grand opening. I will be sure to take many pictures and tell you all about that exciting event.

Now for some pictures...

Well I thought I would be able to post more pictures straight to the blog, but couldn't get it to work...so I posted about 20 new photos (with captions!) to MyPhotoAlbum.com - click the PICTURES link to your right and choose the new album entitled, "Hodge Podge." This album includes pictures from a fellow volunteer's costume birthday party in Bishkek, my trip down south last summer, Tom Paine's visit from China, and the Gotwald's European Vacation.

Until next time,