by Kevin Young
From December 27, 2009 to January 3, I attended an International Youth Meeting in Rome, Italy. The IYM was attended by delegations from Austria, Canada, France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, and Sweden.
The theme of the camp was identity, which was a very engaging and difficult theme to work with. A large part of each activity was the discussions, more so than other CISV programs that I have attended. After each activity, it was not uncommon for the discussions to go from half an hour to nearly two hours.
However, no matter how much we discussed different aspects of identity, we often ended up back where we started. Although we may have not come to firm conclusions on the topic of identity, through trying to learn about it we definitely learned a lot about ourselves and each other. In a way, the camp was as focused on each of us, the participants, as it was focused on identity and simply used the theme as a means.
Another part of the IYM that made it a unique experience was its short duration and small number of participants. It was only 8 days long and had 23 participants. The compact nature of the camp, I think, made it a more intense experience. We connected and bonded very quickly so that by the second day it seemed that we have known each other for much longer than only one day. By the end of camp, it seemed that we had known each other for years.
My IYM was definitely an intense and awesome experience that will stay with me for a long time. As I grow older and stay involved with CISV, I find that at these camps I learn as much about myself as I do about other people, other countries, and other cultures. At the same time I make amazing friends all over the world that I never want to lose contact with.