CISV Overview

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

What is CISV?

CISV is a remarkable volunteer-run organization that offers local and international educational, peace-oriented
leadership development programs for youths. From age 10 to young adulthood, there are numerous ways for your child to grow through his or her involvement in CISV. CISV was founded as as Children’s International
Summer Villages in 1951, in the belief that a more just and peaceful world is possible through education and
friendship. Today, CISV is in 70 countries around the world, and we offer a wide range of activities building on the core idea of understanding through friendship.

We offer a selection of programs with different educational priorities as well as a lot of other fascinating opportunities for volunteering for and with children, young people and young lovers. “Education” in CISV means “learning by doing”.  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 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.