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History of CISV

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Following the devastation of World War II, many people were focusing on initiatives to build and maintain peace. One particular idea caught the attention of child psychologist, Dr. Doris Allen. It was a proposal for a UNESCO peace education institute for postgraduates from many disciplines. The idea for Children’s International Summer Villages (today known as CISV International) was conceived by Dr. Allen in 1946.  As a specialist in growth and development, Dr. Allen, could not agree that the focus for peace education should be in the field of adult learning. She firmly believed that “the ultimate source for peace, long range, lay with the children.”

Doris Allen Richard Avedon portrait USA 1985
“We must start with the children.” — Dr. Doris Allen, founder

From this conviction came her vision of bringing together children from all over the globe to learn to respect different and common values. In 1951, she realised her dream when delegates from eight countries gathered in Cincinnati, USA for the first Children’s International Summer Village (CISV). Over the decades, the organization grew in numbers, countries and activities.  In 1979, Doris Allen was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize – the recipient that year was Mother Teresa.

Over 50 years after the first Village, this programme remains the cornerstone of our international educational activities.  CISV’s range of programmes has increased from one to six different types of international activities and from one village to around 180 international programmes a year.

Today CISV operates in more than 70 countries and since 1951, more than 190,000 people have participated in more than 5,000 international activities.

Read more about Doris Allen.

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