What might I expect?
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.
International People’s Project (IPP)
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