One just isn’t enough when talking about July’s Millennial Inspiration.
From June to August, 655 volunteers will be planning, facilitating, and leading 199 peace education programs for almost 7000 youth and young adult participants in 43 different countries around the world.
Who is this unbelievable group of people?
They are CISV’ers!
CISV International is a global organization dedicated to educating and inspiring peace through building inter-cultural friendship, cooperation and understanding. Founded in 1950, today CISV is a federation of 60 Member Associations with over 200 Chapters or local groups.
CISV has a vision of a more just and peaceful world; as volunteers and members, we believe that we can all take responsibility for making this happen.
In 2003, I had my first volunteer experience with CISV, leading an exchange between youth in Canada and Finland. I’ve been volunteering at an alarming rate ever since.
What made my CISV experience different from my other experiences with international exchange organizations?
You see, the 60member associations and 200 chapters and local groups are all run by volunteers. There is a joy and spirit unique to this organization that draws out volunteers from around the world to work ridiculously hard to create learning opportunities for other youth.
There is a powerful domino effect that inspires participants to become volunteers to pass on their experience and learning to the next generation.
CISV’s statement of purpose states, “CISV educates and inspires action for a more just and peaceful world.” And while I believe that to be true, CISV educates and inspires something more:
CISV programmes both educate and inspire leadership! Whether you join CISV as a young or youth participant or as an adult volunteer (like me), the experience is transformative. The intensity of the volunteer experience and opportunity to live and learn with people from around the world broadens understanding and facilitates a greater appreciation for cultural differences.
I’ve worked with young people in lots of different contexts, and what I find uncanny about CISV volunteers is the quality of leadership that develops through their CISV experiences.
They learn to facilitate games and activities, communicate effectively, and understand group dynamics. CISV’ers value civic engagement and cross-cultural learning, developing a socially conscious attitude and global perspective. They become self aware and evaluative and learn to think and reflect critically. (Don’t believe me? Find proof here)
All of which are critical competencies for leadership. And it is not only who they are in CISV, but who they are and become outside of CISV. You can see those who have been featured as previous Millennial Inspirations; Meaghan the Feminist, DJ Base, Designer Rachel Hill, and future Prime Minister of Canada Kim.
Our volunteers are hard core! They take commitment and dedication to unparalleled heights!
It can be maddening at times, but one has to admit that they are the fire that has fueled this
organization to grow and flourish for the last 60 years.
Each year as summer (and winter in the Southern hemisphere) rolls around CISV’ers get to work. They use up all of their leave, skip that summer job or internship and give their time to share and learn, build intercultural friendships, and facilitate peace.
In just 3 weeks, another 250 volunteers from 39 countries and our small, but amazing staff of 10 will come together for the Annual International Meeting (where Board members meet) to make crucial decisions about the organizations structures and policies.
So a huge thank you to all of the 2013 volunteers, and the thousands who have come before you.