Imagine an experience where different cultures collide, friendships bloom, and international understanding becomes second nature. This summer, five adventurous Magellan students - Aaron Billhardt (8th grade), Carter Billhardt (7th grade), Tessa Frackowiak (7th grade), Sahaana Gupta (6th grade), and Millie Jones (6th grade) - embarked on such a journey through the renowned CISV International program.
What is CISV?
CISV stands for Children's International Summer Villages. Founded in 1951, this organization invites students aged 11-18 from all corners of the world to partake in a magical three-week stay in a foreign country. During their time abroad, participants engage in a diverse range of educational, cultural, and mind-opening activities. This summer, sixth graders resided in San José dos Campos, Brazil, seventh graders in either Brazil or Lisbon, Portugal, and eighth graders in Medellín, Colombia.
Each Village welcomes delegations from 10-12 countries and each delegation consists of two boys, two girls, and an adult leader. This setting creates a safe and joyful environment for learning about each other's lives and cultures, fostering communication, cooperation, and coexistence. Through this immersive experience, participants build lasting friendships, engage in cultural exchanges, and create memories that will endure a lifetime.
One Magellan camper shared, "CISV is about building friendships and fostering global understanding. It's a place to meet like-minded people and feel safe being yourself. Every activity holds deep meaning, allowing you to learn while having fun."
Another camper added, "The best part of my CISV Village experience was the friendships. Everyone there was so open, and the activities brought us closer together. I didn't know I could feel so connected to others in such a short time. You go there not knowing what to expect, and you come out with your life changed and 40 new friends from around the world."
A Typical Day at CISV
A typical day at CISV is packed with enriching activities. Campers rise at 8:00 am, followed by a heartwarming "flag up" ceremony, where everyone in the camp greets each delegation and sings the CISV anthem. After breakfast and cleanup, there are three meaningful activities, punctuated by lunch, siesta, and dinner.
Throughout the day, activities range from language lessons and traditional dance performances to discussions on global issues. Participants also get the chance to immerse themselves in the local culture through area excursions. After a full day, it's time for "flag down," lullabies, and lights out. Lullabies, in particular, hold a special place, creating a profound sense of connection as campers lay under the stars singing songs with friends and leaders.
In the end, the CISV program is ultimately rooted in friendship and peace through understanding. The organization believes that by teaching children how to be open-minded, compassionate global citizens, the world can become a better place.
A Life-Changing Experience
Would they do it again? The answer is an emphatic yes! While each participant may have had some initial trepidation about leaving the comfort of home for three weeks, traveling independently, and living among total strangers, those concerns were quickly dispelled, and no one was ready to leave.
One camper shared, "Before I went, I was a little nervous and intimidated at the thought of being away from my family for three weeks. It seemed scary, and I thought that I might regret going. However, I didn't get homesick even once during the camp. I was too busy having fun! I thought about my family, but I never really had the feeling of missing them, mainly because I had found 'my second family.' When you're part of a CISV camp, it truly feels like you're with your family, and you've known these people your whole life."
Another camper reflected, "To be honest, the hardest/worst part of the trip was saying goodbye to the camp and the people. I miss my friends and think about them every day."
The CISV program has made a profound impact on these young participants, fostering lasting friendships, cultural awareness, and personal growth. As one student aptly put it, "Magellan and CISV have similar goals, and I think it is amazing."
To read more about CISV, visit their website or reach out to your Head of School who can put you in touch with a program alum from Magellan.