Local families enjoy cultural exchange with French, Danish youth

The French delegation from the CISV Interchange poses for a group photo at the Cavendish home in San Marco on the last night of a two-week visit in Jacksonville.

The French delegation from the CISV Interchange poses for a group photo at the Cavendish home in San Marco on the last night of a two-week visit in Jacksonville.

For Jacksonville youth involved with Children’s International Summer Village (CISV), it can be hard to decide whether it’s more fun to be host to boys and girls from other countries or to take a turn as guest in a foreign country.

Caroline Cavendish spent the first half of July sharing a variety of activities in Florida with Victoria Giesecke from France, then left Jacksonville mid-month to see the sights in Paris.

Caroline Cavendish at home with her French guest, Victoria Giesecke

Caroline Cavendish at home with her French guest, Victoria Giesecke

Cavendish, a freshman at the Episcopal School of Jacksonville, hosted Giesecke at her home in San Marco, but the two teens spent very little time there. With the French delegation and their hosts, the girls went to Ichetucknee Springs, spent a weekend at the beach, went to the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine, swam with dolphins in Orlando, attended a Jumbo Shrimp game, and shopped at the Town Center, as well as participated in a service project at Angels for Allison.

“I have a lot of close friends who go to CISV and they got me interested in the program. Since then I’ve been looking into it and so, here I am,” said Cavendish, who has just gotten involved in CISV this year.

Juliette Vasseur, a 15-year-old French girl, with her host, Olivia Nolan

Juliette Vasseur, a 15-year-old French girl, with her host, Olivia Nolan

Sisters Olivia and Charlotte Nolan also spent the first half of July sharing a variety of activities in Florida with girls their ages from Denmark and France, then left Jacksonville mid-month to see the sights in Copenhagen and Paris.

Fairfax Manor resident Olivia Nolan, a sophomore at Stanton College Preparatory High School, hosted Juliette Vasseur, who was in the United States for the second time this year, having visited New York City in April.

“We went to Ichetucknee Springs, to the beach, the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine for ziplining, the Kennedy Space Center, a Jumbo Shrimp game, shopping at the Town Center,” said Olivia, who has been involved in CISV for three years. She has visited Norway, England, Spain and Canada as part of CISV.

For her part of the 2018 Interchange, Juliette took Olivia to see the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral and on a hot air balloon ride.

At the airport, Caroline Cavendish, right, welcomes Victoria Giesecke to Jacksonville.

At the airport, Caroline Cavendish, right, welcomes Victoria Giesecke to Jacksonville.

Charlotte Nolan, who will be in eighth grade at the Episcopal School of Jacksonville, hosted a Danish girl before taking her turn as guest in Copenhagen. She has also been to England, Spain and Canada through CISV.

The Cavendish and Nolan families were two of about 20 local families who hosted youth from Copenhagen and Paris, building global friendships and gaining a deeper understanding of other cultures. Other 12-to-15-year-olds from Avondale who hosted youth from Denmark included Nico Summa, Rowan Fix, William Rosenberg and Chloe Brown. Will Taylor, of Avondale, was a leader for the Denmark delegation and his family hosted a Fourth of July party for the French and Danish youth.

At the airport, Olivia Nolan, left, welcomes Juliette Vasseur to Jacksonville.

At the airport, Olivia Nolan,left, welcomes Juliette Vasseur to Jacksonville.

“Three of Caroline’s closest friends have had wonderful experiences with CISV,” said Cavendish’s mother, Shelly. “We have been around CISV for about five years, and when we heard this year’s exchange was to Paris, Caroline was all in and she has loved it.”

In addition to the Interchange, 14 Jacksonville 11-year-olds attended CISV international camps in Brazil, Denmark, Germany and Michigan, where they lived for a month with youth from 12 other countries; eight youth went to “Step Up” camps in Indonesia and Norway with fellow 14-to-15-year-olds from 10 countries, and seven youth ages 16-to-18 went to international camps in Egypt, Guatemala, Finland, Sweden, Mexico, and Pittsburgh, Penn.

To families who are undecided about getting involved with CISV, Olivia Nolan had pointed advice. “Get off the fence! It’s a lot of fun, and a great way to meet people from other countries, and experience other cultures. You’ll love it!” she said.

By Kate A. Hallock

Resident Community News

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