CISV Atlanta Newsletter – Fall 2005
I had a crash course in CISV during the 2005 CISV National Board Meeting. To say the least it was an intense and rewarding learning experience! Just three weeks prior, my son Gerran and I, attended our first local CISV meeting. Before my formal introduction to CISV at that meeting, I thought CISV was merely a travel group for kids. But I was wrong. I’ve learned that CISV is so much more. My eyes were completely opened at the National Adult Meeting, NAM. During my weekend there, I found a spirit of friendship, fun and empowerment to change the world.
The first thing that impressed me the very first night of NAM was the incredible sense of friendship within CISV. As I walked through the hotel, I repeatedly saw CISV members from all over the county, greeting each other with enthusiastic hellos and tight hugs. It reminded me of a class reunion and I remember thinking; “They are really glad to see each other.” In addition to the intense felling of friendship and camaraderie, everyone had fun. From the games at the meetings, to singing “RESPECT” with Lisa and Thletha at the Friday night Costume Party, to making my acting debut at the Saturday night performance introducing Mosaic, I had a great time. But the cool thing about all the fun, was that I was learning about and being affected by CISV values without even realizing it.
However, the most striking thing I discovered about CISV was its incredible ability to empower its members to work toward social change. The Keynote speaker was Kimmie Weeks from Liberia. He discussed the civil war in his country and the atrocities he and his mother witnessed and endured. I was touched by the response to his speech by the CISV membership. It was not, “oh that is so sad” or “poor Kimmie”, but instead it was “Kimmie, how can we help?” As a result of the desire to help those still suffering in Kimmie’s homeland, plans were discussed to send toys and other items to children in Kimmie’s county. That same attitude was demonstrated by our own fearless leader, Tait Anberg, when he spearheaded a Gulf Coast cleanup effort after hearing the Gulf Coast Chapter describe the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in their area. I thought, “Wow,” this is what all people should aspire to; to see a need and be willing to jump in and work toward a solution. To me, that is what CISV stands for; people working together to solve the problems of the world. It may sound naive and idealistic to some, but I think every CISV member sincerely believes they can make the world a better, more peaceful place. And we can! After all, isn’t that how CISV started, with Doris Allen seeing the need for social change and world peace and taking action toward a solution?
So as my son and I embark on the CISV journey, I hope we can embody the principles of CISV. After seeing CISV in action during NAM, I understand why veteran CISVers love it so much; because they are having fun and changing the world with a little help from their friends.