By Allison Gallagher
For the Troy Daily News
MIAMI COUNTY — Miami County is home to one of the most active CISV International chapters in the state, which hosted a farewell party for the children who will be traveling abroad and their families at Troy Park on June 10.
With a mission and goal to help students gain cross-cultural experiences through traveling domestically and abroad via student exchanges, the travelers spend about two weeks in a foreign country, and get to know other children and their families while developing friendships.
CISV International was originally founded in Cincinnati by Doris Allen following World War II. She felt that children, once they reach age 11, were old enough to be taught about maintaining peaceful relationships with others and to begin exploring the world.
“In essence,” said parent Angela Brockman, whose child went to Costa Rica with the program recently, “it’s a peace organization.”
Students going abroad or their parents may purchase T-shirts, blankets and other small items for the students traveling so they can trade the goods with other children from their host countries. Of the delegations who are going this summer, the four groups are going to Sweden, El Salvador, Denmark and Spain.
George Stubbs is the leader of the El Salvadorian delegation and says this is his first time leading a group for CISV. The children going with him are Annie Richter, Isabella Waite, Owen Davis and Decker Jackson. All four of them are excited to be going abroad. Richter says she is looking forward to meeting new people; Waite says she loves to try new food and wants to sample El Salvadorian cuisine. Jackson is eager for the cross-cultural learning experience.
“My main focus is learning about their culture, and building international relations that are peaceful,” Jackson said.
He also added that flying to El Salvador is his first time on an airplane.
Davis agreed with Jackson, excited to meet his El Salvadorian peers as well.
“I just want to learn how different they and their culture are from us and the United States,” Davis said.
Jeff and Valerie Waite, Isabella’s parents, are excited for their daughter and admit to being a little nervous about her going out of the country, but are proud of their daughter. Valerie Waite stated that her daughter is rather adventurous.
“She’s not afraid to try new things,” Waite said. “She does like to try new foods and is pretty comfortable with meeting new people.”
Waite said her daughter went through a selection process where the organization chooses who will go to which location.
“There’s a selection process to it, where after deciding which countries the kids can go to, they then decide which places would be best suited for the child,” she said. “We found out in late February or early March – about that time – that she was accepted to go to El Salvador, and she’s been excited ever since.”
The CISV chapter for Miami County also has a camp for older teens. Step Up Camp is directed toward students who are at least 15. Two students from nine delegations will go to nine different countries as part of an exchange program.
According to Step Up Director Jenna Dailey, the camp embodies the same values as CISV.
“The goal is to build global friendships,” Dailey said. “We want our delegates to recognize similarities in one another, to help foster and create friendships that will result in a more peaceful world.”