Archive | August, 2012

Pilar Ortiz takes off as Exhibition Curator for Azul!

29 Aug

Pilar Ortiz, one of our fabulous ETS Spring 2012 graduates, has created a new Latino arts exhibit. We all remember Pilar as the bubbly and innovative artist who has moved from art student to art entrepreneur!


Acting as Exhibition Curator she helped put together Azul, a Latino Arts Event that featured over 20 Latino artists from across Central and South America located at the Ana G Mendez University. Pilar said that she hopes to bring business and art together and she is proud to have artists representing all Latin countries to create a truly multi-cultural Latino event.

(center) Maria P. Rodriquez, MDHBC Executive Director with the artists


As part of the event the jazz group Grupo Latino played some fantastic songs while attendees were able to bid, via silent auction, on donated art pieces from the exhibition artists. The proceeds from the auction go to Pilar’s newly established foundation Hispanica that supports the local Latino art community.

This vibrant and colorful art exhibition was free thanks to the support of New York Life. It also acted as the pre-conference kick-off for the Maryland Hispanic Business Conference. The MDHBC is the premier Hispanic Business event in the DC region servicing more than 20,000 Hispanic Businesses in Maryland. The Conference hosts a variety of workshops, training and business sessions focused on creating opportunities for participants from all industries. Hispanic business owners are the fastest-growing segment of the DC region’s business community and the MDHBC conference is a great opportunity to network!

Alexandra, our Development Associate AmeriCorp Vista, with Pilar Ortiz


We are so proud of Pilar and her success after ETS. We hope to write future blog posts about her successes and wish her all the best! Go for it Pilar!

Check out the wonderful exhibit, open until mid-September at the Ana G. Mendez University in Wheaton, MD!

Spotlight on The Campagna Center

27 Aug

ImageThe Campagna Center

New Neighbors Education Center

The New Neighbors Education Center provides education programs and related services to help immigrant and refugee families become self-sufficient and fully participating members of our community.

They offer English Classes with nine levels of adult English classes that are carefully structured and result-orientated. They also offer Childcare during those classes. In addition the Campagna Center offers Family Literacy classes so the whole family can learn together!

Guest speakers and field trips provide information to connect students with community resources to enhance learning.

“At New Neighbors, my sons and I are learning English.  And we are learning that people from different countries, like Sudan, El Salvador, Jordan, Mexico, Irag, India, and Kyrgyzstan can be friends.  I love school.  I love my teachers.  And, I love my friends.” Riham


The Campagna Center English Classes offer two 12-week, 90-hour terms a year. English classes, from beginning to advanced, meet three mornings a week and childcare is provided during class.

They have welcomed students from over 70 different countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.

Classes met at the new Fowler House of Christ Church, which has nine ESL classrooms, five childcare rooms, meeting rooms, and a computer lab.

Our very own Perri is going to be a guest speaker on November 7th!

English Classes Fall 2012

General Registration:

Friday, September 14, 2012

9:30 am – 12:00 noon

***Registration will be open until classes are filled.

Students must register in person with I.D.  A placement test will be given.  Childcare will be provided.

Fall Class:

September 19–December 14, 2012

Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays

9:30 am – 12:00 noon


$100 for the class includes books, CD, computer lab use)


$100 for 1 child (in 4 age-appropriate classes)

($25 for each additional child)


Christ Church

118 N. Washington Street

Alexandria, VA  22314




New Neighbors is supported by financial and in-kind contributions from many caring individuals, business, foundations, churches, and civic groups because fees do not cover the cost of providing our high quality program.

If you would like to support this program please donate here.

Looking to improve your English, literacy, or computer skills?

17 Aug


Our friends at Language ETC in Washington, DC are currently registering students for their Fall ESL classes. Registered students will also have access to 1/hr of tutoring per week, conversation club, and the open language lab. Language ETC also provides classes in literacy in Spanish, citizenship preparation, and computer literacy in English and Spanish. Registration is open until the first day of classes, at which a $10 late registration fee will be applied. Scholarship assistance is available based on need.

The Fall ESL Classes Are:

Monday-Thursday, 7 — 9 pm: September 10 – December 6  ($120)
Tuesday & Thursday, 10 am – 1 pm: September 11 – December 6 ($120)
Saturday & Sunday, 2 – 5 pm: September 15 – December 9 ($120)
Sunday, 9 am-12 pm: September 16 – December 9 ($75)

Classes are located in the same building as Our Lady Queen of the Americas church (near the Dupont Circle Metro)

2200 California Street, NW
Washington, DC 20008

For information on how to register and more information about their computer literacy and citizenship preparation classes, please call or visit Language ETC’s website:

EWI’s Social Media Intern looks back on a not-so-average internship!

15 Aug

Photo by Ernesto Rivera

My friends and I have all heard the horror stories passed down from intern to intern of hours spent at the photocopy machine, the impossible-to-please supervisor and the endless list of mindless tasks (“If you could change the font of all these documents from Arial to Times New Roman that would be great, thanks.”)

If those stories represent the stereotypical internship, I can say with confidence – and a lot of relief – that the time I spent with Empowered Woman International was everything the typical internship is not. Since the beginning of December when I first started working as an intern, I’ve tried my hand at so many different projects and processes within the organization. From grant research to data organization to building furniture (we got a crash course on IKEA construction in June), there is no lack of variety in the tasks I was assigned to, and I was always encouraged to take the initiative if I saw an opportunity to start something on my own.

One project that I would have never imagined spearheading was the coordination and scheduling of EWI’s social media. In fact, if you had asked me in November if I felt comfortable publishing a blog post I would have given you a blank stare or redirected you immediately to someone a little (OK, a lot) more tech-savvy. Little by little, I was introduced to WordPress, Pinterest, Razoo, Flickr and all of the other web platforms we use to keep the organization running and spread the word about what EWI does, and now I feel 100% (you guessed it) empowered!

EWI’s social media strategy is still in the works and I can’t wait to see what the next intern will bring to the table! As for me, I have one more semester of school left, but when the time comes I can enter the workforce with a clear idea of what I’m good at, what I enjoy doing and how these skills will benefit a potential employer. Professional life aside, I feel as though I’ve really grown as a person after working with such an energetic, creative team and talking with so many talented artists! All my thanks for such an awesome opportunity!

– Liz, Social Media Intern, Summer 2012

Learn more and apply for internships here.

What We’re Reading

14 Aug

Now that another school year is right around the corner (and underway for some), we’ve been investigating some of the big issues facing parents and educators as they get their kids classroom-ready!

School at Home or Homeschooling?”

The homeschooling phenomenon has exploded in recent years, and data such as ACT/SAT scores and psychological tests suggest that parents may not be misguided in wanting to take on their child’s education independently. Still, another option has presented itself in the form of “virtual academies” that provide online classes based on a given district’s requirements. This article on gives a general overview of the difference between this form of education-at-home and homeschooling as well as the pros and cons of this new approach.

Why Romney, Obama are education twins

With elections in November, many parents will be wondering what the two presidential candidates have in mind for their child’s education. According to this Washington Post article, it turns out that parents can expect campaign speeches on the subject of education to contain more or less the same thing coupled with some very creative wording. As the article cleverly points out, it will be imperative for speech writers to make their candidate’s plan sound distinct and innovative – even if the plan itself is a copy of the same status quo policy the parties have shared in recent years. For the parents of future writers, this could be a great lesson in recycling your old material!

Packing a Waste-Free and Healthy Lunch

Finally, this article by Amily Hoop-Sopko is a great refresher in School Lunch 101. She provides some great tips on saving time and money and encourages parents to bring their children shopping to learn more about the different food groups and all the healthy food available at the grocery store. We would encourage parents to include their kids in the lunch-packing process from time to time as well! Their first pick for lunch may not coincide with yours, but with a bunch of healthy food available and you as a guide they’ll be making the smart choice no matter what!

This Empowered Woman reminds us that all work should be respected

13 Aug

The stereotype of the domestic “help” has become somewhat of an ongoing theme in American media. From popular television series to the recent hit film “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World,” these workers (usually immigrant women) are portrayed in humorous and sometimes awkward scenes, yet rarely given any serious clout as characters. Given the old saying that media holds a mirror up to society, what does that say about our view of domestic workers?

Ai-jen Poo, the daughter of Taiwanese parents, picked up on the condescending attitude many Americans have towards domestic workers very early on in her life. Ever since her college years, Ai-jen has been committed to giving a voice to this population – a group she aptly calls “the most visible invisible workforce” in the United States. Despite the fact that they take part in some of the most important processes of life such as child-rearing and taking care of the elderly, domestic workers are extremely vulnerable to exploitation by their employers, whether it comes in the form of verbal abuse, low pay, an extremely arduous schedule or all of the above.

Being a incredibly talented organizer, Ai-jen Poo has flourished in her role as the director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Her recent accomplishments include encouraging Obama to expand labor laws, lobbying for the first-ever Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (passed recently in N.Y.) and creating worker-led groups all over the country.

Ai-jen Poo has also translated her leadership skills into her work with Caring Across Generations, an organization that encourages good relationships between caregivers and their patients and promotes the creation of quality jobs in the field of home care.

There is much to be done before the image created by the media of the typical immigrant caregiver is replaced with a more realistic, empowered representation of domestic workers, and until that time we have women like Ai-jen Poo to thank for giving a voice to this group!

To learn more about Ai-jen Poo and you can get involved in her campaign, visit the National Domestic Workers Alliance website at!


10 Aug

Our recent forays into the world of social media have led us to a new site giving Pinterest a run for its money when it comes to uncovering new and rare gems of e-commerce!

Wanelo (short for Want, Need, Love) is similar to Pinterest in the sense that it runs on the collections assembled by curators (just like the boards created by pinners), yet the overall goal of Wanelo is less aspirational and more shopping-oriented. Wanelo provides direct links to the online stores where products can be found, and the pieces themselves tend to be more affordable and more practical, thereby encouraging actual shopping as well as curation.

Having just received 2M from various investors, the directors of this San Fransisco-based site hope to expand operations, hire designers and develop an online platform that’s wholely seperate from Pinterest and other, similar websites.

In the meantime, Wanelo is still an incredibly useful tool for discovering the smaller, environmentally-friendly online merchants who may not be trending on other sites!  Here’s a list of vendors we LOVE who offer vintage or recycled products (with plenty of character, of course):

Gypsy Warrior


Viva Terra


The Olympics give way to the “Year of the Woman”

9 Aug

While the Olympics are meant to inspire national pride and friendly competition, the London 2012 Olympics have brought yet another reason to celebrate to the foreground: the phenomenon NBC has deemed the “Year of the Woman.”

The signs are everywhere – there are more women than men in the U.S. delegation, women will be participating in every sport for the first time ever and every single country has sent at least one female athlete.

For the United States, women athletes are getting some serious attention for their Olympic achievements – especially from their younger fans. As Chris Jansing of NBC notes, more and more teenage girls are watching the Olympics, and the festivities have brought on a surge of participation in sports activities among young girls.

As recent news would suggest, this new burst of athleticism inspired by the Olympics can do wonders for our mindsets as well as our health. Not only does the participation of women in sports such as weightlifting and archery help to dissolve the distinction between men’s and women’s activities, but these iron-pumping, javelin-throwing role models have the power to change the perception of what women should aspire to be.

Take Zoe Smith for example! As one of Britain’s best female weightlifters, Smith was subject to a barrage of comments questioning her sexuality and critiquing her for her down-to-earth wardrobe. Zoe responded to these criticisms on her blog, saying “To think people still think like this is laughable. We’re in 2012!” Zoe’s focus on accomplishing her goals, rather than on whether she looks “pretty” while accomplishing her goals, sends the message to her younger fans that women have so much more to strive for than what we see in the media every day.

So what lessons will these inspiring women instill in you? Make sure to catch the last weekend of the Olympics to find out!

EWI is at the Rockville Memorial Library!

9 Aug

That’s right! Starting this fall, EWI will be holding its Rockville Entrepreneur Incubator classes at the Rockville Memorial Library, located in the Rockville Town Square.

Not only is the RML one of the most architecturally innovative of the all the Montgomery County libraries (its interior was designed as a commemoration of the mapping of the human genome), but it offers a variety of services and events every month, allowing both English speakers and newcomers to the country to come together as one community and learn something new!

The Mommy & Me series, for example, is frequently held at the library and involves story time, arts and crafts and prizes for participating families! The library also opens its doors to anyone looking to improve their English, Spanish or computer skills with conversation clubs in the evenings and computer trainings once a week in the afternoon. For a complete list of Rockville Memorial Library events and classes click here!

And for our upcoming Rockville class, get excited for four months of creating, sharing and growing into an empowered woman and entrepreneur in this exciting environment! We’ve spent the past few months adjusting and developing our training program and we know you’ll be happy with the results, as well as our new accomodations.

EWI Adventures in Old Town!

8 Aug

Last week, the EWI staff decided to take advantage of a beautiful summer afternoon to do some exploring around our new neighborhood in Old Town Alexandria!

After working up an appetite wandering through the boutiques on King Street, we made a pit stop at Pizzeria Paradiso, a local pizzeria with locations in Alexandria, Georgetown and near Dupont Circle.

Choosing a pizza proved to be more difficult than we anticipated! Faced with a huge variety of delicious toppings and a tantalizing list of pre-designed pizzas, such as the “Quattro Formaggi” (four different kinds of cheese, minced garlic and parsley), we certainly had a lot of decisions to make!

Our next stop was the Torpedo Factory Art Center, located right on the waterfront on Union Street.

We loved exploring the 6 different galleries open to the public and we were amazed at all of the different events and activities going on practically non-stop at the Factory! Not only can guests peruse the various galleries dedicated to photography, ceramics, etc., but the Torpedo Factory is also home to the studios of over 165 artists who invite visitors to stop by at watch them at work! And for those who prefer a more hands-on approach, classes and workshops are offered year-round by the Art League School.

Finally, our stroll brought us to the scenic Old Town Waterfront, where we paused for a moment for some photo opps!

We had a great time learning more about our neighbors in Old Town! Hopefully this will be the first adventure of many!