Last September I was introduced to Judy, the chair of Fredericton's CISV chapter, and an hour or so later I had committed to volunteer as a Program Chair and to help coordinate an interchange between 16 thirteen year olds in Fredericton and Austria. So what is it? CISV is an organisation that aims to promote peace and understanding through global friendships. Sounds a bit naff but basically it is about making opportunities for kids as young as 11 to meet others from around the world and get to know each other and share ideas and learn about each other's culture. It's the kind of thing I hope Brendan will do when he is old enough. They plan different kinds of programs but the one I'm helping to organise is an individual interchange. The kids are paired up and spend 4 weeks living with their partner in Austria this year then the Austrians come here for 4 weeks next year. They do lots of activities and the focus is on learning from each other and not just sightseeing.
So basically I am a local organiser who doesn't get to go to Austria but does a lot of paperwork and liaises with my equivalent in Austria. Jackie is the other organiser but is about to have a baby any day now so it'll be down to me for a while. The first few months didn't involve too much, a few meetings, and some emailing, then we went crazy on the recruiting and I spoke to loads of interested families, received applications, did home visits and met the teenagers at a minicamp. In the last few weeks it has all been quite exciting. I enjoyed giving the families the good news that they had been accepted and hearing their excitement. We had our first meeting with all the parents, kids and the leader all together and have got started with the more detailed organising.
I'm enjoying it a lot and having something to keep my CV current is a bonus. No plans to go back to work yet. I love being at home with Brendan and don't have time for work! Might have to do something part time soon though. Especially if we want to keep having holidays! Cuba is looming.