Category Archives: Volunteering

Seeking Home Stay for International Student


Do you live in close proximity to Princeton University and have a spare room available at your home? Invite a bright Japanese student to stay with your family during his brief 2-month experience in Princeton!  Princeton University has partnered with Green Planet (, a CSIET-approved organization that specializes in bringing on-the-ground support to international student programs at private schools throughout the U.S., in hopes to find qualified host families that can provide a safe home environment for two Japanese astrophysics students that will be joining Princeton’s student body for ~8 weeks this fall.

These 2 young men are current students at the University of Tokyo, and will begin their journey at Princeton in late September. They will have their own insurance and spending money. The families should speak English at home – and although the students will be deeply invested in their studies, being able to involve them in family events and activities is a big plus.  

Participating families will receive a stipend of $1200/month for the duration of the program.

Don’t miss the chance to take advantage of this unique opportunity! Interested families should reach out to or  by 

September 6, 2013.



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Story Time at Library Not Lost in Translation

Source: The Princeton Packet


By Philip Sean Curran  (Staff Writer – The Princeton Packet)

 Children’s story time at the Princeton Public Library on a recent Monday morning looked a lot like it does at libraries anywhere else, but it sounded a little different.

”Was ist das?” Heike Reinhart of Princeton asked the little ones gathered around her in the third-floor reading room, as she held open a book with a cartoon drawing of an animal.

For the past few years, community volunteers like Ms. Reinhart have come forward to read to children in German, Russian, Japanese, and other languages. It is but one way the library seeks to serve the community, one that is drawn from all over the world.

On one hand, the program helps foreign-born parents keep their native tongue alive for their children living in America. Yet it also exposes American children to a different language.

One mother raved about the program afterward.  ”Personally I think that for the child’s development, their brain works like amazing,” said Tamar Shalamberidze, a Princeton resident originally from the Republic of Georgia. “As much language as they are going to hear, it’s better. They develop amazingly.”

”They have no accent, and they have the ability to learn something fast because they don’t question,” explained Ms. Reinhart, a native of Germany who also teaches the language. “For children, they just repeat and they learn by doing. They’re like little learning machines.”

Princeton is a polyglot university town that draws people from around the globe. Library staff say they hear patrons speaking in a different tongue all the time.

That language diversity also is evidenced in the students attending the local public schools, said youth services librarian Lucia Acosta.

”We do know from the Princeton schools that there are over 50 different languages that are spoken in this community as first languages,” said Ms. Acosta, who is in charge of foreign language programs at the library.

Ms. Acosta, who is multilingual, is a part of the diversity. Originally from Colombia, she came to the United States to attend graduate school but never left. A library employee for the past 13 years, she speaks English, Spanish, French and German.

When it comes to accepting volunteer foreign language readers, the library is choosy. Staff want to make sure there will be enough children who will attend.

”Well, first of all we have to have a critical mass of children. If you have about at least 15 children of a homogenous age, then we will consider it,” she said. “And of course we have to have a storyteller that’s capable. It’s not enough to speak a language to be able to do a story time.”

Ms. Acosta said there is an art to story time, from knowing children and books to being a little bit of a performer. Also, there is dealing with the sudden outbursts when little ones decide they want to be heard.

In Ms. Reinhart’s case, she was approached to do a story time, urged on by the parents of her students who said she needed to do something for the younger children.

”I think there’s a big, big need for German,” said Mr. Reinhart, a native of Wurzburg, a university city near Frankfurt.

The children’s program is only a piece of what the library does in the way of foreign language programs or to cater to foreign speakers. Aside from foreign language books for children and adults, the library offers English conversation classes, ESL classes on Sundays, a Spanish book club and legal help for people with questions on immigration.

”This community is enormously diverse. I mean what with the university, with the institute (for Advanced Study), with all the foreign companies that we have around,” Ms. Acosta said. “So we try to serve all our community.”

For information about this or other library programs, visit

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Electronic Waste Hazard Keeps Piling Up


by Elihu Luna

Sales of electronic products have skyrocketed over the last 20 years.  Fast-paced technical obsolescence and massive adoption of mobile technologies are driving this trend.  Americans now own approximately 24 electronic devices per household according to the Consumer Electronics Association (2012) and this rate is increasing.  International studies show similar patterns in both developed and developing countries.

While the increased use of electronic devices has increased communication and access to information, they have also created vast amounts of waste containing a range of toxic materials.  An estimated 50 million tons of electronic waste was produced around the world last year and only a small percentage was appropriately discarded.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency in 2009, 141 million mobile devices (including cell phones, smart phones, PDAs, and pagers) were no longer in use. However, only 11.7 million (about 8%) of these devices were collected for recycling.

Most electronic devices that are no longer used are discarded or dumped.  In underprivileged areas of Ghana, China and India, piles of domestic and imported electronic waste burned in order to extract copper wire, gold and silver.  This practice poses a serious health hazard because exposure to the toxic elements which may include mercury, lead and cadmium, has been linked to serious neurological damage.

One way to help alleviate this serious problem is to create awareness and to educate consumers about the correct way to discard electronic devices.  I am a volunteer at an organization in the e-waste recycling field which is planning to design a consumer market study which will help the organization develop educational materials and design a communication campaign.

If you have any experience in consumer studies, recycling or green technologies or are just passionate about environmental issues, please contact me (  I estimate that the project will require about 25 to 40 hours of commitment over a period of 5 to 6 weeks.  The position will entail online research and questionnaire design (we are NOT going to conduct surveys ourselves).  Schedule and location are completely flexible.

Source:  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Consumer Electronics Association and New York Times

=> This article was reviewed by Linda Sipprelle.

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International Community Day

Yuko and Ho Jin

by Linda Sipprelle (*)

   Under the expert coordination of FDIC Board member, Dartha Hopkins, a number of students from the Group Conversation Program participated in the YWCA‘s very successful International Community Day on Sunday, April 14.

Song and Jing had a beautiful display of large, color photographs of China and fluently answered questions from the hundreds of attendees at the event, including an enthusiastic group of ten year old boys.

Yuko Yamakawa’s Japanese Ikebana display was greatly admired.  Her interesting explanation of this difficult flower arranging technique was articulately delivered.  Ho Jin Shin’s beautiful Korean mementoes made from yarn was greatly admired be all.

Takeshi Kitagawa and his group of karate students, which included a young boy, were outstanding.  Observing Takeshi who hold a 6th degree black belt and is an “A” ranked referee with the USA Karate Federation, was a memorable and pleasurable experience.

(*) Linda Sipprelle is a volunteer tutor.


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