Part of the CISV program application process is the interview and selection process. Given that we have finite opportunities for our youth, we offer this as insight to how the chapter selects applicants, common misconceptions about selection and how to improve your odds of attending a CISV program.

To us die-hard CISVer’s, it is a mystery why CISV is not in every community, like Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts and Rotary Clubs and that there are not opportunities for every child who wants to go.  What a wonderful world it would be if there were!  To the contrary, it is a fact that CISV program opportunities are finite.   We host, extending program opportunities to other chapters around the world; each fall, we receive program opportunities from other chapters.   The delegates that can be sent are limited to a specific number.  In most cases, the gender must be specific also.   This number and mix is based on research.

We have some very tough decisions in the Brandywine Valley chapter.  We have a large Junior Branch in a thriving, involved community where children are motivated to excel and succeed.    Our Selection Committee, all of whom have extensive experience working with youth and CISV, struggle with selection when we have a plethora of great applicants – most often, it’s the Step Up and Junior Counselor  programs but it can apply to any program where applicants exceed availability.  The committee must carefully consider the best applicants and mix of delegates to meet the specific program’s goals.

Program Goals and Selection Criteria

The goals and selection criteria are slightly different for each program. All programs share the common goals of building global friendships and learning about the educational areas of diversity, conflict and resolution, human rights and sustainable development.   Let’s step through the programs one-by-one:

Village: Goal is to learn about each other’s lives and how to communicate, cooperate and live together.  Selection is based on a child’s maturity, openness to new experiences and people, enthusiasm about participation and ability to be away from family for the duration of the program. Additionally, the mix of personalities to form the delegation is a factor. It would not be good to put all extreme extroverts together, for example.

Interchange: Goal is to provide cultural experience for the young delegates, while engaging the whole family.  In this family-based program, selection is based on the Village criteria plus the family’s ability to fully participate in the planning and hosting phase, providing adequate supervision for their international charges.

Youth Meeting: Goal is to explore a theme relating to an educational goal and reflect on how they can apply what they have gained from their experience, such as knowledge of the theme along with planning and communication skills, within their own community.   Criteria are similar to Village.

Step Up:  Typically this is our most competitive program with the fewest opportunities for the number of applicants. The goal is encourage the youth to take a leading role in planning and organizing activities. The participants use CISV’s peace education to provide a theme around which the activities are planned.  The expectation is this will help them become active global citizens going forward.  This is very much a leadership program where applicants that show the most potential for leadership have the edge.  Knowledge of CISV is also a plus.  As this is an age where many teens are testing their boundaries, Step Up requires youth who demonstrate maturity and good judgment.  As with the other programs, the delegation mix is also considered.

Junior Counselor:  This is also a highly competitive program due to the relatively few positions available.  The goal of being a Junior Counselor is to enhance the Village experience for the participants and to grow their leadership through being an integral part of the Village program leadership.  The applicant, who travels alone, must show leadership skills, ability to work with children, and demonstrate high maturity and good judgment.  Being involved at the chapter level, having knowledge of CISV educational goals and genuine enthusiasm for CISV is a plus.

Seminar:  This personally challenging, intensive program is coordinated by the participants. They develop their own agenda and explore global issues based on their own backgrounds and interests, through activities and in-depth discussions. Seminar Camp’s group-living environment encourages them to collaborate, and to take a creative approach to problem-solving and resolving differences that can arise from healthy discussion. Selection is based on the applicant’s maturity, good judgment, ability to contribute to and collaborate with the seminar camp “community” (will carry one’s weight) and independent thinking.  The applicant travels alone to this program.

Selection Myths

The Junior Branch youth often discuss among themselves about how applicants are selected. Sometimes they have misconceptions about how selection is made.  Here are a few common myths.

JBer’s who fulfill a certain role in the JB are entitled to a Junior Counselor/Step Up/ Seminar spot.  While it is true that involvement and leadership in the JB and increased knowledge of CISV are pluses in selection, selection is never an entitlement at Brandywine Valley.  Additionally, programs are not selected with any particular youth in mind and are driven based on chapter demographics, gender fairness, and desirability of location and time period.  Everyone has a fair shot.

You have to be extroverted/ have a super bubbly personality/be a top student/etc.  to be selected.  So not so.   Can you imagine 48 of the same type of person all together?! The key to a good delegation is balance.  Diversity of all kinds makes the world go round.  Same is true of a CISV program and delegation.  There is a place for introspective book worms, logical techno kids, life-of-the party dancing fools and pie-in-the sky dreamers.

Your parent is on the board or volunteers for/contributes to the chapter in a significant way.  The selection rate for board member’s youth is between 40- 50%. This has much more to do with the families’ general increased involvement in CISV and thus the youth’s involvement in CISV and knowledge about the organizations goals than their parent being a board member or super volunteer.  Being tuned into the chapter deadlines and being able to communicate CISV at the interview is a plus.

Improving the Odds

So you really want to participate in a CISV program, which as we started with, has finite opportunities.  What can you do to increase your odds of attending?

Have a summer birthday!  OK, this is the only one that you have no control over.  Fact is that if you were born between June 1 – and August 31, you have twice the program age eligibility than everyone else who doesn’t. So be patient and maybe next year will be your year.  Same is true for multi-year eligibility for programs with two years of eligibility – if you are at the low end, try again the following year.

Be involved with CISV year round.  We have meetings, activities, mini-camps.  Not everyone can go to everything, but the more you participate, the more you will know about CISV.

Take the interview seriously.  This is your chance to show the Selection Committee what you have to offer.  Don’t minimize it because you joke around with Frank Nefos!  Make a good impression.

Wait and see what Round Two brings.  If you did not get selected, Round 2 starts in February for returned invitations and chapter shares for when chapters cannot fill their invitations.  Your chapter president will start finding out about opportunities.  We try to place as many youth as possible in delegation shares with other chapters (for the Village program, we will only delegate share with the Philadelphia chapter).  In recent history this has been about 3-4 a year in various programs.

Be flexible.  Didn’t get in a summer program to your favored destination?  Consider a winter program or a location that is less sought after.  Not selected for JC?  If you are 17, you could also be eligible for a Seminar spot or vice versa.  Didn’t get in Youth Meeting?  Consider Interchange.

Get your CISV fix in short bursts!  Mini-camps and National Youth Board Meeting are a great way to get the CISV experience in weekend doses.  Many JBers never attend any international, multi-week program and get just as much out of CISV by attending meetings, activities and mini-camps!  It’s all fun and all good.  You will still meet lots of new friends from all over.  Save that long camp experience for when you can apply to be a leader!