The Why, How and What of CISV

CISV International - About Us - link to www.cisv.org

About Us - link to www.cisvusa.org

CISV - building global friendship

Our unique educational programs bring together young people from around the globe, developing cross-cultural knowledge and understanding.  By encouraging respect for cultural differences, common values and self-awareness, CISV empowers each participant to incorporate these values into their lives as they become global citizens and strive for a more peaceful world.

Starting with children: What does CISV stand for?

In the aftermath of World War II, American psychologist Dr. Doris Allen saw that the "ultimate source for peace, long range, lay with the children."  In 1950, she founded Children's International Summer Villages (CISV).  The following year, 11 year olds from eight different countries gathered in Cincinnati, Ohio for the first Village program.

In 2010, along with an updated logo, CISV adopted "CISV" as it's official name instead of the original "Children's International Summer Villages" because our organization's programs are no longer just for children; it has expanded to include national, regional, and local programs in addition to the original international Village program; programs occur year round, not just in the summer; and CISV now has six viable international programs, including Village.

Opportunities for all ages around the world

CISV now offers a range of six international programs as well as local activities.  There are camp programs, exchanges and community development activities.  Programs are aimed at youth and adults, using diverse formats and themes.  CISV hosts about 200 programs a year in over 60 countries.

Learning by doing

Creative activities, games and simulations, music and drama lead to lively discussion and evaluation.  Participants learn through direct experience.

Young people take an active role in program planning, developing key leadership and communication skills.  Programs are interactive, action-oriented, sensitive, often multilingual and always fun!

Contributing to a better world

CISV is a global network of volunteers of all ages.  We are independent and non-political.  Supported by the International Office in England, volunteers plan and organize CISV programs and all aspects of the organization.

Cooperation and research toward international understanding are very important to us.  CISV International is an NGO in operational relations with UNESCO and holds Participatory Status with the Council of Europe.

CISV inspires people of all ages to become active and contributing members of a just and peaceful world.

"Once you are bitten by the 'CISV bug', it’s in your system for good...years ago, I received a letter about a CISV program.  I jumped at the opportunity and was lucky to have parents who could see that it would be a valuable learning experience for me...I believe the “CISV bug” stays in your system not only because of great memories and friendships, but because, as a child, you realize that you are part of something much bigger than yourself.  That’s why CISV is far from your average summer program for kids and why I’m so excited to be part of helping CISV Atlanta grow."

-- Past Youth Participant turned Board Member

International Programs

Village - the foundation for global friendship

This unique four-week international camp was the original CISV program and is still its flagship.  Delegates to this multilingual and multicultural experience participate in a mix of educational, cultural and sporting activities, which emphasize cooperative, global and intercultural living.  Duration: 28 days  Age range:11  Size of group: Each Village has delegations from 12 countries.  These delegations consist of 2 girls, 2 boys and an adult leader.  There are 6 Junior Counselors, aged 16-17, and 5 adult staff.

"I learned that one person can make a difference and every little thing you do can help make the world a better place.  I also learned to look for friends everywhere.  Strangers are just friends you haven't met yet." 
-- Youth Participant, Village program

Step Up - building leadership skills

Aimed at young teens, Step Up encourages participants to take responsibility for leadership and program planning.  Each camp focuses on a specific educational theme.  Participants work together to plan activities and discussions which build on the chosen theme.  Duration: 3 weeks  Age range: 14-15  Size of group:Delegations from 6 or 9 countries plus 5 adult staff.  Each delegation consists of 4 young people and an adult leader.  Single gender Camps are possible.

"I wanted to thank you for opening the door of CISV to our family.  I thought at first that [my daughter] was just going away for a summer program and that would be it.  After her experience and meeting so many people and listening to you and other members, I realize that we are in it for the long haul. I had a great time this evening and felt as excited as if I went to program.  It is so amazing how connected we feel around CISVers.  I simply experience a clear positive environment that I want [my daughter] to continue to be part off.  Again, thank you and thank you to all team members." 
-- Parent, Step Up program

Interchange - building intercultural competence

While based on the same educational principles as CISV's camp-based programs, Interchange encourages a deeper encounter between two cultures by placing young people within families.  Group activities such as mini-camps are vital in complementing the intense in-depth family experience.  Duration: 2 to 4 weeks for each of the 2 phases of the Interchange.  Interchanges take place over 1 or 2 years.  Age range: 12-15  Size of group: Each Interchange involves delegations of 6 to 12 young people plus adult leaders from 2 chapters.  Single gender Interchanges are possible.

"I learned that I can make friends with anyone. I even made friends with someone who didn't speak English that well. It really helped me learn how easy it can be to connect with people."
--Youth Participant, Interchange

Youth Meeting - building skills and regional capacity

These short regional camps, each with an individual theme, provide opportunities for young people to explore important intercultural issues in a regional context.  The program reinforces the values learned in other CISV activities and builds skills in leadership and program organization, while promoting continued involvement in CISV.  Duration: 8 to 15 days  Age range: 12-19+  Size of group: 25-35 participants and adult staff.  Young people under 16 travel in delegations with an adult leader.

Seminar Camp - a dialogue for global friendship

This personally challenging, intensive program is facilitated by the participants.  They develop their own themes and agenda to explore issues and form opinions about individual, international and multicultural matters, within a framework emphasizing positive conflict resolution.  Seminar Camp fosters interest in the world as a whole and develops a sense of responsibility for its peaceful survival.  Duration: 3 weeks  Age range: 17-18  Size of group: 25 participants and international adult staff.

International People's Project - go out, find out, help out

This innovative program is a way of learning while actively contributing to the community.  In partnership with local organizations, delegates participate in hands-on work involving a specific theme or project, such as nature conservation or immigration.  They also research the issue in their own countries and lead educational activities on the subject.  Additional training may be provided by the partner or other experts in the field.  Duration: 3 weeks  Age range: 19+  Size of group: 25 participants including adult staff.

"I was struck by how much we learned...Despite language barriers and cultural differences, we somehow managed to coexist for two weeks in very close quarters, while getting a tremendous amount of work done. It was a centering experience. When you are completely taken out of your element, you learn a lot about yourself. You can check your baggage at the door, and you can coexist with people and work toward a positive goal."

-- Adult Participant, International People's Project

Local building blocks

Local communities are microcosms within the global context.  Using the same principles locally as in our international programs, CISV connects people to their local communities in a meaningful way.

Mosaic - building partnerships with local communities

Mosaic is a project-based program aimed at supporting local chapters to cooperate with local partners and communities.  It empowers individuals to be agents of change, reach out, and involve as many people as possible.  Each project relates to a local need and interest.  Using the three-phase educational approach of discover, understand and create,' local members develop projects in conjunction with like-minded organizations or community groups.  The aim is to create an authentic learning experience for participants and deliver a benefit to the wider community.  Duration: Up to one year  Age range: All ages  Size of group: No limits

Junior Branch - youth building social capital

The very heart and soul of CISV, Junior Branch comprises young CISVers, who develop interculturual and leadership skills through educational and social activities.  Juniors manage their own activities and take an active role in the administrative responsibilities of chapters.  Operating through a network at chapter, national and international levels, Juniors organize their own programs on a wide variety of themes, such as social justice and the environment.  Junior Branch activities are aimed at building community, developing leadership skills and promoting peace through education.  Duration: Ongoing activities at the local, national, regional and international levels  Age range: 11-25 (may vary from country to country)

Join in...and make a difference

CISV is a unique volunteer organization: we are multicultural, multilingual and multi-generational.  You can help offer programs that have a positive influence on the lives of thousands of children, adults and their communities.  There is a wide range of opportunities to support CISV and build peace and understanding through global friendship.

Volunteer - leadership and support in action

The CISV community of volunteers spans more than 60 countries and all ages.  There are plenty of opportunities to get involved at the local, national or international level.

CISV values the skills, experience and perspectives that volunteers bring to our organization.  In turn, we offer our volunteers the training and orientation necessary to be successful in their roles.

You will develop and improve cross-cultural skills in facilitation, leadership, organization, communication, team-building and problem solving -- making a difference for others and in your own life.

Donate - invest in the future

Please consider making a financial contribution to our vital work.  You can help us to:

  • Reduce the costs of activities
  • Fund youth scholarships
  • Support research and educational development
  • Establish CISV in more countries and communities

Be a part of building a global friendship, reaching out and making a difference to people and communities worldwide.

CISV Atlanta

About Us - CISV International