Today’s guest blog comes from Renee Hodges and features the work of the Leeds and West Yorkshire branch of the Children’s International Summer Village – CISV. Renee is keen to spread the word about the work of CISV and to attract new participants and volunteers.
‘Mum, look at THIS!’
My ten-year-old daughter had just come home from school and was bursting with enthusiasm. She thrust out a flyer with details of an international summer camp called ‘CISV Village’.
I had become aware of CISV International at the school gates through chats with parents of children who had been away to ‘Villages’ around the world. So, I had some knowledge of the organisation, and although the idea of my daughter venturing off overseas for 4 weeks of the summer holidays was daunting, I knew from those chats that this was a unique opportunity. Parents had told me that the experience had helped their children develop people-skills and independence to make their way successfully through life, including the tricky start to secondary school. It had developed their awareness of their own character, personality and values. Most of all, they had made lots of new friends and had fun!
The information evening that followed helped us to be sure that CISV was right for my daughter. We were reassured that safeguarding was a high priority and met some of the leaders – mature and friendly young adults, many of whom had attended Village themselves. It brought back memories of when my family had hosted students from a local English language school when I was a child – I met young people from Europe, Asia and South America and we shared our experiences over the dinner table. I still hear news from some of the friends I made many years later. The chance to offer my child something similar, but with the added benefit of building confidence and understanding cultural differences, seemed too good to pass by.
My daughter met the rest of her ‘delegation’ – another girl, two boys and their adult leader – soon afterwards and by the time they set off on their adventure to Germany the following summer (2019), they were firm friends. Their next four weeks were filled with inspiring activities, challenges, and fun – all based around building cultural understanding and global peace. My daughter developed her curiosity about the world she lives in and identified her place in it. She explored all this and more with of young people from countries including Brazil, Egypt, Italy, Norway, The Philippines, South Korea and U.S.A. When I asked the children from her delegation about their experience, they said these things:
“Village was such fun. I was so sad to leave all my new friends at the end!”
“The best thing about CISV Village was meeting new people from different places and learning about their culture.”
“It helped me realise that some kids are more privileged around the world and some have less but I have everything I need.”
Founded over 60 years ago, CISV is a global movement dedicated to educating and inspiring action for peace. It’s a non-profit organisation and it is not religious or political. There are many programmes, not just Village, that continue from the age of 10/11 into adulthood.
I now volunteer for the Leeds and West Yorkshire branch, which has been active for over 30 years, taking a role on the committee. At the moment we’re planning our camps for 2021 and I am looking forward both to helping children attend camps and to welcoming those from around the globe to West Yorkshire, just as my child was made to feel welcome when she went away on Village.
Renee Hodges – CISV Leeds and West Yorkshire Branch Committee (Nov 2020)
CISV Leeds and West Yorkshire is currently open for applications to 2021 camps and is also seeking volunteers. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.