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CISV is an independent, non-profit, volunteer organization promoting peace education and cross-cultural friendship, through multi-cultural camps and international exchange programs for youth ages 11-18.
Who We Are
We are a global community of dedicated volunteers, creating opportunities for all ages to experience the excitement and enrichment of cultural diversity through our educational programs. We are founded on our belief that peace is possible through friendship - and that the real difference can be made by starting with children.
Our values: Friendship • Inclusiveness • Enthusiasm • Engagement • Cooperation
What We Do
CISV provides a range of unique, educational group activities, which develop cross-cultural understanding in children, youth and adults from around the world. By encouraging respect for cultural differences and the development of self-awareness, CISV empowers each participant to incorporate these values into their lives as they become global citizens and strive for a more peaceful world.
Our work focuses on the following key areas:
1. We provide opportunities for individuals to learn by experience to live amicably with others irrespective of cultural background.
2. We contribute through research to a science of international relations and non-violent conflict resolution.
3. We cooperate with other organizations having similar purposes.
4. We inspire people of all ages to strive for a more just and peaceful world.
"We must start with the children." ~ Dr. Doris Allen, founder
Following the devastation of World War II, many people were focusing on initiatives to build and maintain peace. One particular idea caught the attention of child psychologist, Dr. Doris Allen. It was a proposal for a UNESCO peace education institute for postgraduates from many disciplines. The idea for Children's International Summer Villages (today known as CISV International) was conceived by Dr. Allen in 1946. As a specialist in growth and development, Dr. Allen, could not agree that the focus for peace education should be in the field of adult learning. She firmly believed that “the ultimate source for peace, long range, lay with the children.”
From this conviction came her vision of bringing together children from all over the globe to learn to respect different and common values. In 1951, she realised her dream when delegates from eight countries gathered in Cincinnati, USA for the first Children’s International Summer Village (CISV). Over the decades, the organization grew in numbers, countries and activities. In 1979, Doris Allen was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize - the recipient that year was Mother Teresa.
Over 50 years after the first Village, this program remains the cornerstone of our international educational activities. CISV's range of programs has increased from one to six different types of international activities and from one village to around 180 international programs a year. Today CISV operates in over 60 countries and since 1951, more than 190,000 people have participated in more than 5000 international activities.
The building blocks of global friendship
At CISV we believe in building global friendship, starting with children. But that's not where it stops. While the Village program, for 11 year olds, is the cornerstone of our educational philosophy, it's just the first building block. We also offer a range of multicultural experiences to youth and adults, providing the opportunity to experience the CISV philosophy and live our values. Find out more about our exciting and diverse activities:
CISV Chapters around the world host a range of programs for different age groups. We try to ensure that quality and general content are similar, no matter where the activity takes place. CISV also endeavors to keep participation fees as low as possible. There are opportunities to learn at the local, regional and international level. Participation begins at local CISV Chapter level, where members have the opportunity to apply for international experiences. We have six unique international programs starting with children from age 11. There are many additional opportunities for involvement for other age groups in these programs – ranging from Junior Counselors to adult Leaders.
Please see the "Programs" tab above for Pittsburgh Chapter program opportunities.