CISV Overview

CISV encourages and inspires people to contribute to social justice and global peace.

What is CISV?

CISV is one of the largest non-profit organizations for international children’s and youth encounters. Since its inception, CISV has been a global movement that aims to inspire people of all ages to stand up for world peace. We are convinced that we can change the world through great, profound experiences and lifelong friendships.

We offer a selection of seven exciting programs with very different educational priorities as well as a lot of other fascinating opportunities for volunteering for and with children, young people and young lovers. “Education” means “learning by doing” with us.  All programs are therefore designed to ensure that participants have fun and at the same time develop personally and socially.


How did it begin?

  • As a non-profit organization, CISV is philosophically untethered and neither politically nor religiously oriented. 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 experiences help develop a worldview and philosophy of life that asks us humans to stand up for peace.