We took some time to catch up with BV’s current JB Advisor – Bradford Rush – to check in on his experiences with CISV and our chapter.
How long have you been with CISV?
I’m afraid to say exactly how long I’ve been in CISV. Not that I’m ashamed or anything but it’s scary to think how many generations have come and gone through my tenure. Oh well, you’ve twisted my arm. I first joined CISV when I was a wee lad of 11 years and went to village in Vest-Agder, Norway. This was all the way back in 2002 so, yes, I’m currently 28 and that means I’ve been a CISVer for 17 years. If my CISV membership was a person, they’d be getting ready for senior year of high school (yikes).
How did you find out about CISV?
Now, this is a funny story. Not exactly a laugh-out-loud story, it’s just rather coincidental—almost like fate. You may or may not know but I’m actually originally from a small city in Northwestern Ohio called Findlay (pronounced “fin-lee”, weird right?). Anyways, I was sitting in my 5th grade classroom during homeroom and my teacher was making his daily rounds of passing out take-home forms. Mixed amongst the usual school lunch calendar, permission slips, etc. was a flyer for an organization called, you guessed it, CISV. Having up until this point never left the country, my interest was piqued when I saw “TRAVEL TO NORWAY” plastered across the top of said flyer.
When I got home later that day, I hurriedly ran inside the house waving the flyer from right to left and begging my parents to let me go. Bless their hearts, they actually took the flyer, read it over, and agreed to let me go to an information night/selection night. It wasn’t until later that they confessed that the only reason they let me go was they were positive I wouldn’t be selected (not they didn’t have faith in me, they just figured there would be so many applications that the odds just weren’t there).
I remember the next day rolling into school and excitedly letting everyone I knew know that I was going to an information session for that flyer we received yesterday. “What flyer?” was all I heard back. For some reason, my classroom was the ONLY one who received the flyer. Now, my school wasn’t huge but it wasn’t small either, we had at least six other 5th grade classrooms.* Anyways, the day of the information session finally arrived and we packed up an overnight bag and drove to the site. We walk in the door and my parents immediately have a look of… horror, shock, confusion (all of the above?) on their faces. Here they were, expecting an auditorium full of eager 11 year-olds but, instead, they greeted by three other families. “Well, I guess he’s going to Norway,” they conceded and, sure enough, I was selected to be a part of the delegation and the rest is history.
*We later asked the chapter is they had any idea why my classroom was the only one to get the flyer and they were confused, too. There weren’t any members at my school and they hadn’t distributed flyers to the school system either.
What programs have you attended?
Village: Vest-Agder, Norway (2002)
Interchange: Helsinki, Finland (2004-2005)
JC: Hamburg, Germany (2008)
Step Up [Leader]: Vaasa, Finland (2013)
Youth Meeting [Leader]: Vienna, Austria (2016-2017)
Growing up I was a very active JBer as well so I’ve attended numerous minicamps, National Junior Branch Meetings (NJBM), National Minicamps (NMC), trainings, etc.
What is your favorite role that you have done in CISV? Describe your role today?
I think it goes without saying that my favorite role in CISV has been the honor to be BV’s JB Advisor for going on 5 years. Working with our JB board has been a very rewarding experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I’ve long felt that we don’t give young people enough credit for all that they’re capable of. Perhaps give them a little bit of encouragement and guidance and their maturity, curiosity, and morality will astound you. Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t mistakes here and there but these mistakes are learning experiences. Each and every one of our JBers has the potential to be a leader and I’m honored to be there to support them.
Currently, I wear quite a few hats (as is typical for non-profit work). As you all likely know, I am the JB Advisor for BV. In this role, I provide support and advice to our JB board, help plan activities, act as Head Chaperone and provide logistical support for chapter minicamp, act as chaperone for participants attending regional and national events, and act as a liaison between the adult and JB boards.
Besides being the JB Advisor for our chapter, I’m also the National Junior Branch Advisor (NJBAD for short). I’ve held this role since October 2017 and, in this time, it has evolved a bit. My primary duties are to assist and advise our National Junior Representatives (NJRs), advise and train JB Advisors in other chapters, act as Head Chaperone and provide logistical support for CISV In Motion and National MiniCamp, attend plenary sessions of Local Junior Representatives (LJRs) and act as a parliamentarian, and sit on the National Junior Governing Board (NJGB).
What are your hobbies? (Outside of CISV!!)
What are “hobbies outside of CISV”? Is that a thing? Haha, joking of course. I enjoy photography, hiking, going to the movies/concerts/theatre, dancing, catering/planning parties/events, reading, travelling, playing with dogs (sadly not able to have one of my own), board games/puzzles, and I suppose that’s it? Oh, I also collect patches and fun socks. Ask me about my collection sometime.
What is one thing you would want to teach the next generation?
One thing that I’d want to teach the next generation of CISVers is to embrace progress. Our world is constantly changing and in order to survive, we must remain fluid and open to new ideas in our approach to the mission of CISV. Having grown up in a chapter that no longer exists, I’ve seen how holding on to tradition and “what’s safe” can have lasting consequences. While our history holds merit, we cannot sustain ourselves by shutting out new and progressive ideas. At the end of the day, we are here to spread the mission and vision of CISV.