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On CISV Time…

June 25, 2008

Gosh…I haven’t written in a while. I’ve probably lost many readers, but they might be back. Then again, I have no idea when my next post might be. I arrived yesterday into Atlanta, Georgia, where I’ll be staffing a CISV Village for four and a half weeks. It’s going to be an awesome and amazing time, but I’m not sure if/when I’ll be able to write here. Who knows…I might need to vent here :-D. In the interim, I’d like to placate you all with a couple of things:

First, you can find photos from the Village here. I’ll be taking lots of pictures during camp and uploading them there.

For those of you unfamiliar with the organization known as CISV, I wrote a blog post on the now-defunct CISV Junior Branch USA blog last summer with a reaction from the organization’s Annual International Meeting. Here’s what I had to say:

¿Qué es CISV?

A revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having! V For Vendetta

What is CISV? Is it Village? Is it JB? I had an insight last night–to me, CISV is not any of those things, but a mash-up of experiences that might result from activities or times with friends. All this came to me last night at the AIM Welcome Party. Picture the scene: A tropical Caribbean feel with band, orange and yellow lights, and traditional Colombian Carnival dancers. During their last formal dance they pulled everyone out onto the floor to join in the revelry. During my passioned Latin hip-moving merengue I looked around at who I was dancing with in the small group. There were the two Colombian dancers that pulled us onto the floor, myself, a Japanese trustee and two observers from Denmark. I stopped my hips, looked around and said “whoa…right here is what CISV is all about.” Nationality, personal bias, belief, and even dancing ability were cast aside and in its place was a desire to have fun and immerse ourselves in a culture far different any of our own.


My journey here has been one profound moment such as this after another. We’ve focused quite a bit on our personal reasons for being a part of Junior Branch and in the larger context of CISV. Things like my dance last night are the reason why I continue in CISV–the experience of breaking down barriers and being open to new ideas and experiences are what I feel makes the organization so special.

Do you ever sit back at a CISV activity and ask yourself “Would I ever have imagined doing this when I got started in CISV?” This organization has literally changed my life for the better in my 5 years as part of it. When I was 15 I never thought I’d be learning and working with 250 people from 40-50 countries in a hotel in Colombia. The same goes for anything and anything having to do with any of the international programs I’ve taken part in.

As we finish up our time here in Colombia and all of us begin preparing for school to start up again take a moment to consider your own personal JB history. What special moments have you had/shared? Friends gained? Taking this personal inventory has helped keep me focused on the tasks I have at hand and reinforced my beliefs in the organization and should help do the same for you.


That’s about all…it’s time for this Wandering Jew to head to bed.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Nadia Lang permalink
    December 1, 2008 11:46 am

    Hi Fly guy

    I am a fellow jew

    I love your picture with the Tefillin wrapped around your hand would you mind if I used this in an advert for Tefillin

    Many Thanks
    Nadia lang

  2. May 31, 2010 6:34 pm

    “Letters to Juliet”…A Love Letter to Verona
    Leaving letters for Juliet is something that Monica Catalina, also known as, the Tuscan Texan, is all too familiar. Monica, a brand new Texan and expat from Verona, is embracing her Italian roots and finding a common ground wherever she can here in Texas. From her city of star-crossed lovers, she has followed her amore (and now husband) to Dallas, Texas. Trading in the star that hangs from the coliseum in Verona to the Lone Star that hangs in her new state flag. From the boot that represented the shape of her country, to the cowboys boots that she now wears around her husband’s family ranch. Monica’s contagious personality and love of all things make it easy for her to feel right at home in her new surroundings.
    The story began in Lisbon, Portugal where Monica and Richard Anderson where selected to represent their respective countries in an International People’s Project where they worked with 54 youth and adults with cerebral palsy at a 21-day CISV camp. They met wanting to help other people like the character in “Letters to Juliet”. Similar to Romeo and Juliet, it was love at first sight, two people from different parts of the world, not meant to be together. Richard, a recent Vanderbilt graduate, was traveling through Europe on the orders from his parents to find himself or a passion and don’t come home until he knew what he wanted to be now that he is grown up. After a couple of months travel and the fortunate event of meeting Monica, he called home and said “I didn’t find myself, and I still don’t know what I want to be, but I have found a girl, I am in love, and I am moving to Italy” which is exactly what he did. They married outside of Monica’s hometown of Florence in the beautiful Tuscan hills last September.
    But let’s go back to Verona and our Juliet story. Richard decided to move to Verona, the city of love, to win Monica’s heart. Reminiscent of the Montague’s and Capulet’s difficulties, there were different obstacles for our Richard to overcome as well. For instance the language, grad school, a job, the cuisine-Italy is the largest consumer of horsemeat in all of Europe (remember the ban on beef because of mad cow) and in Texas, eating a horse is still a hanging offence. Meanwhile, Monica was in the nearby university town of Padova working on a degree in psychobiology. Their time together in Verona began with a visit to Juliet’s balcony. There is a statue of Juliet in the courtyard where visitors place their hand on Juliet’s breast. Guests get their picture taken and you can see a scene revealing this in the movie. Monica explained that in Italy, the symbol of the breast in art represents the admiration towards the spell of femininity. It’s a positive symbol of beauty, health, joy, maternal warmth, love and fertility. There next adventure was to Carnival in Venice, just 45 minutes from Verona. It was Venice where they returned two years later for Richard to ask Monica to marry him on a gondola at sunset. Monica’s reply was a resounding “I would love to marry you Richie”.
    Now that Monica has moved to Texas, she very much wishes to share her traditions, memories, cooking talents and affections of all things Italian-Tuscan-Florentine-Etruscan-Mediterranean. She is a myriad volume of the treasures that Italy has to offer. This was witnessed first-hand after guiding us to the pinnacle of the Duomo in Florence, Monica exhaled, “this is where my friend and I used to skip school and come to read our books”. She is now busy in Texas, planting olive trees and making plans to plant grapes for a small vineyard . With Monica’s infectious personality and special understanding of her beloved country, she has entered into the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) “Your Own Show” competition under the cooking category in hopes to communicate her expertise and experiences with a large audience. Please consider voting for her at –you can vote as often as you would like.

    Thank you!

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