About Us

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 difference 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.

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. We have Interchanges (12-15 year olds), Step Ups (13-15 year olds), Seminar Camps (17-18 year olds) & Mosaic programs (all ages). As well, Junior Branch includes young local CISVers between the ages of 11 - 25. For more information, see the welcome letter.

How it Began

The idea for CISV began in 1946, in the mind of Dr. Doris Twitchell Allen (1901-2002), a clinical psychologist specializing in development and psychodrama. Her son, a youngster old enough to understand there had been a war, asked his mother if he would have to be a soldier when he grew up. Her idea of children from different countries living together in a camp-like "Village" for one month was developed and the first Village for 11-year-olds was held in 1951, in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Dr. Allen strongly believed that children are potential agents of social change and that decisions they would make as adults would be based on attitudes and emotions learned in their pre-adolescent years. Thus, CISV gives children from all parts of the globe opportunities to live together so that they may develop cross-cultural friendships and an awareness that they belong to a global human family. “Peace is only possible when individuals and groups learn to live together as friends” said Doris.

Children 11 years old are chosen for a Village program as it is considered to be the age where they are mature enough to spend one month away from home as well as being receptive to new ideas. The Village program remains a prominent aspect of CISV.

Dr. Allen lived to see CISV celebrate 50 successful years. In 1979, the International Year of the Child, she earned a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize for her work with CISV. From its inception and for most of her life she remained involved with CISV, and even attended the National Board Meeting held in Canada at the age of 97.

CISV Ottawa