CISV International – which was formerly called Children’s International Summer Villages – has 221 chapters in 69 countries. One of those chapters is CISV Toronto, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. This volunteer-run organization is dedicated to promoting peace education and cross-cultural friendship. The organization was founded in 1950 by American child psychologist, Doris Allen. She believed our best hope for creating a peaceful world was to teach children of different nationalities and faiths how to respect and understand each other before they were influenced by prejudices. She wanted to reach them when they could still be taught to think and feel in new and different ways.
CISV’s cornerstone program is called the Village. It brings together delegations of 11-year-olds from 10-12 countries to form an “International Village”. Participants engage in a range of educational group activities designed to foster cross-cultural understanding, establish global friendships and develop a desire and foundation for working toward world peace. After living together for a month, they’re left with memories of an unforgettable and profoundly moving experience, as well as life-long friends. They also leave with a desire to incorporate the CISV values of friendship, inclusiveness, enthusiasm, engagement and cooperation into their lives.
The local chapter is very active. They’re sending approximately 50 delegates to programs in Brazil, Iceland, Portugal, Guatemala, France, Indonesia, the Czech Republic, the USA, Sweden and the Philippines this year. They’re also participating in interchanges with chapters in Indonesia and France. Also, from June 30 – July 22, 2013, they hosted a Step Up program hear lake Simcoe, bringing together delegates from nine countries. CISV Toronto’s Chair Steve Doswell says, “It’s a lot of work and responsibility to host so many young people for three weeks, but so incredibly worthwhile when you see the magic of a CISV program unfold.”
CISV Toronto isn’t stopping there. From August 17-25, 2013 they’re also hosting National Camp near Lake Scugog, which approximately 50 youth from Canada’s 11 chapters will attend. Toronto youth are also participating in Peace Bus. This cross-country journey on a mini bus is part adventure travel, part leadership development, and part volunteerism. The eastbound group stopped in Toronto from July 19-21, 2013, and the westbound group will be in town to attend a peace leadership workshop at U of T from August 7-10, 2013.
The parent of an 11-year-old boy wrote, saying, “Both of our children participated in Villages with CISV. Both were profoundly moved by their experiences and returned to us more mature, more empathetic of others and with a commitment to social fairness. They made deep friendships which they have been able to maintain, thanks to social media.”
To find out more about CISV Toronto, including how you and your children can become involved, visit them online.