Making friends around the world with CISV

Making friends around the world with CISV
Madison Stephenson, Elianna Arola, Sam Padgett and Kristin Taylor

This summer when we were 11 years old, we went to a CISV Village in Trento, Italy. We spent four weeks in a camp with kids from 11 different countries along with two 16-year-olds from two other countries who were Junior Counselors. We went with our fun adult leader and another girl from Gainesville. We made life-long friends and had an unforgettable experience.

Madison Stephenson, Elianna Arola, Sam Padgett and Kristin Taylor

Madison Stephenson, Elianna Arola, Sam Padgett and Kristin Taylor

During Village we did many things, such as energizers and exciting activities. Energizers were done before every activity to pump us up whether we were running or making friends and getting to know our fellow CISVers. Most energizers were about silly things, such as a moose drinking juice, how mangoes make your bodies go relax, and getting down to the beat. In the first two weeks, we did stuff like Capture the Flag, The Survival Game, and Dream City. After the first two weeks, it started to get more intense.  We did activities that taught us about world peace, trusting and working together, and understanding each other’s cultures. These included 10 Steps to Peace, The Train of Trust, Peace War Peace, and Human Caterpillar.

In the seemingly short time we were there we grew really close to almost everyone. We didn’t have contact to anybody outside the camp except in letters, which allowed us to grow even closer to one another. It made one day with a new friend seem like two weeks with them. At the end of camp, you felt like you’d known them your entire life, but yet you hadn’t spent enough time with them.

In this Village, we learned many valuable lessons, such as that everyone isn’t so different after all even if they speak a different language and live in a different way in a different culture. The best part was these lessons were learned from entertaining games such as Peace War Peace, which taught that two wrongs don’t make a right. So many things can be taken away from CISV that is hard to name them all like friends for life, life lessons, and many other things.

In conclusion CISV is a wonderful nonprofit organization of volunteers who believe world peace can happen and want to pass it on to generations to come. It has many different programs for kids who are willing to do it and they certainly will enjoy it. It gives you a wonderful, almost magical, experience that we both will certainly never forget for the rest of our lives.

Parents and youth, ages 11 to 18, who would like to make friends with kids from around the world and have a memorable summer should apply for these programs by Jan. 11, 2014.  This summer CISV Jacksonville will send 11-year-olds to Villages in Dallas, Denmark and Egypt as well as here in Jacksonville and will be sending 12- and 13-year-olds to Switzerland and Italy, 14-year-olds to Sweden and Pennsylvania, and 16- to 18-year-olds to Norway, Michigan and Illinois. CISV Jacksonville also has opportunities for adults to lead these programs. Visit www.cisvjax.org for more information and attend one of the upcoming information sessions.

By Madison Stephenson (Sacred Heart 6th) & Kristin Taylor (RPDS 6th)

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