Is CISV Religious?
No. We openly accept every religion, we allow every belief. For us, religious freedom is just as important as freedom from beliefs.
Is CISV Political?
No. We are not encouraged or supported by any political direction. We are open to any political attitude. Different points of view enrich the cultural diversity. Tolerance against other people’s ideas promotes living together.
What might I expect in Village?
Just as in many camps available to young people today, Village offers a mixture of camp activities such as arts, crafts, sports, singing, and dancing. The one thing that sets Village apart from camps offered by other organizations today is the opportunity to share a month with children from all over the world, and learn about their cultures, the likenesses and differences.
It’s important to note that, no matter what the location of the Village program, the actual experience will be the same. The Village participants spend the majority of their time at the Village site (which might be a school, college, or camp facility), just like they would at a domestic summer camp. However, the participants do have several very exciting opportunities to explore their camp’s host country.
When the children arrive at their Village destination, they spend the first weekend with a CISV host family while the delegation leader moves into the Village site for orientation. The host families are CISV volunteers just like the ones you’d meet here in the New York chapter, and their children have participated in CISV activities too. The host families give the delegates a taste of home life in that country, and also take them to see some of the sights in their community. After the second week, the children have a second host family weekend, except this time they will spend the weekend with another child from the Village who’s not from their own country.
The Village staff also arranges a few sightseeing excursions into the local community as well as a shopping day where the kids can purchase souvenirs to take home to their families, if they wish.
What can I expect to gain if I participate in a Village?
Children in a Village will become close friends with other children and, in the space of one month, they indeed learn that the similarities far outweigh the differences. It is not unusual to see children who have had the Village experience later as young adults make life decisions directly related to their experience in the Village, and many of the friendships made during Village last a lifetime.
What can my parents expect on my return home?
Parents of Villagers should expect their children to return home with a much-improved understanding of world geography and culture. They should also expect a flurry of letters, phone calls, e-mails, and a desire on the part of their children to host their new friends as well as travel to other countries to visit them. Children returning from a Village may be more independent and mature. CISV is an all-volunteer organization, so parents may be asked to give time in their own local Chapter to help children coming to a local Village have the same experience as their own had when they traveled. They may be asked to host or lead delegations, serve on selection committees, fund-raise, etc.
How is the quality of staff training?
Host Staff members and Adult Leaders must complete an application process (including background checks) and an internationally mandated training course before serving in a Village. The training materials are constantly being revised and updated to provide the necessary tools and skills to serve in this unique camp situation.
What is so different about Interchange?
Interchange is the only CISV program that is family-centered and allows for total immersion of the youth participant into a family’s social and cultural life. This is achieved by living in a host partner’s home and becoming part of the family. Interchange is for our youth who are ready to begin exploring cross cultural communication. Total cultural immersion allows participants to gain new insight into human similarities and gain interdependence. In addition, Interchanges provide the greatest opportunity to share the lessons that CISV has to offer as families are directly involved in all phases of the program.
What is the family involvement like in the program?
Parents are an integral part of the Interchange. Parents, along with their children & leaders, plan the Interchange experience and are actively involved in the hosting of their child’s partner. A close planning interaction between parents & youth often allows the parent and the youth to re-discover each other. Here are some of the comments received from families:
- An incredible life enriching experience
- Parents allowed themselves plenty of time to get to know me
- Sharing experiences, discussing problems & coming to an understanding
- CISV has developed good qualities in my child
- Most amazing experience of my son’s life
- Our family has given our children roots, and CISV gives them wings
What is the leader’s role in the delegation?
The leader of the Interchange delegation is the catalyst for the delegation’s bonding together into a cohesive group of friends with a common purpose – educational fun & friendship. Leaders are carefully selected and comprehensively trained adults who demonstrate a love of working with children, a belief in the ideals of CISV, and the flexibility and maturity necessary to lead a delegation of energetic young people. CISV volunteer leaders include teachers, parents, business & professionals, and graduate students.
Who are JC’s? What are their role in a Village?
At 16 or 17 years of age, Junior Counselors are able to relate to both children and the adults and to act as a link between them during a CISV Village. In the Village, the JCs are an important part of leaders’ group, performing specific duties and contributing to the planning and operation of the daily activities. JCs participate in leaders’ meetings and lead activities, just like any delegation leader would participate. The JCs also have the ability to serve as the bridge between the delegates and the adults. All the children need to feel liked and loved by the JCs, who appear like older sisters and brothers. Being a JC can be one of CISV’s most rewarding experiences.
What is IPP?
International People’s Project is an activity based on one specific theme for people aged 19 and above with at least four delegations depending greatly on the nature of the project. It must be at least 14 days long and should not be longer than 23 days. It consists of a practical part, in which the participants work on a certain project in cooperation with a partner institution. To complement the educational content of this practical part each delegation gathers information on how the chosen theme is dealt with in its own country. They prepare activities before the IPP and carry them out during the project as a way of demonstrating this information. There may also be seminars and activities organized by the partner institution and/or other experts. The rest of the group then has an opportunity to exchange opinions on this theme. IPP participants are selected nationally by the IPP committee. Participants must be 19 years of age or older. In addition to program fees, participants must be a member (or join) CISV USA or a CISV USA local chapter. To find out more about IPP and to see available programs, www.cisv.org/ipp
Who books flights?
The flight booking is made jointly for the whole delegation, it is handled by our reliable travel agency partner. We will collect the necessary data from you in good time and book as soon as the delegation is confirmed and the host chapter can not change the basic data of the camp (about 4 months before the start of the camp).
Do all of the children of the delegation travel together?
Yes, the delegation travels back and forth from the home chapter; the companion is always there.
Who pays the travel costs?
During the Program
What do the children do all day?
Embedded in a fixed daily routine games and personality-forming activities take place. Activity phases are usually initiated by so-called “energizers”, which are short, fun games that are fun and stimulate the children to work together. There is also plenty of time for sports and leisure. Recovery phases are provided, consideration is self-evident. The activities always follow a certain pattern: First, the children get to know each other. Only when the leaders and the staff can establish that the participants are no longer feeling foreign, there are activities, where also closer contact can take place. Of course, the specific needs of the children are taken into account. Gradually, the participants feel confident about each other, and more and more activities lead to tolerance, understanding and finally to friendship and trust.
What about religion?
CISV is religiously unbound. This means that if your child is religious, it is by no means prevented from exercising his religion. If possible, its needs are also supported. On the other hand no kid will be encouraged or even forced into any unwanted religious activities.
Can I call my child on the mobile phone?
No. No direct contact is possible during the camp. This makes the children much easier to become comfortable in the new environment. They are, however, always happy about mail from home; Sporadic e-mail traffic is also possible via the leader. Please understand that no answer from your child is most probably a sign that they feel very comfortable.
The staff is also available for emergencies.
And if something happens?
Our leaders are prepared for unforeseen things as much as possible. Each program has at least one staff member trained in first aid. In addition, there are experienced risk managers who handle crisis situations in each chapter and country. Our greatest interest is in the welfare of all participants.
For which camps are there family stays?
In a Village, the children spend their first and third weekend with a host family. A Step Up also starts with a host family weekend. During the Interchange the child lives with the host family and meets with the rest of the group again and again to perform CISV activities with the group.
How many children live with a host family?
During an Interchange usually one kid, as there should be the same number of children in both groups. For the other programs, children stay with their host families in groups of two or more children.
Who can be a host family?
Usually these are CISV-affiliated families, sometimes also individuals. Most of them have children who take part in CISV activities, some of them have been CISV children fifty years ago. But people interested in CISV and cultural exchange are also willing to share their home for with children from other countries for a weekend.
What are the requirements to be a host family?
Room for the guest children, but not necessarily single rooms. Mattresses are sufficient. Time to sleep, understanding for possible jetlag, a warm welcome and sufficient food should be self-evident. The children should get to know local customs, and experience the host country a bit more “close up”. Very often the host families get to know each other before and meet for common leisure activities (swimming, museum, …). The host families are informed in advance about CISV practices and rules. Host families are background checked and a chapter member visits the host family home.
How much money does a host family receive?
Nothing. It is a purely voluntary activity.