Step Up Program is SO Awesome!


CISV Saskatoon will be sending a group of lucky 14 year olds to a Step Up in Columbus Ohio in July and a group of 15 year olds to Brazil in July. At the Step Up they will practice their leadership and group work skills while working in an intercultural environment. They will make friends and plan activities with youth from other countries and learn not only about each other but about themselves as well.

A Step Up Story:

When I was 14 I attended my first CISV program in Detroit Michigan. I had never traveled without my family before but loved the idea of going all the way to the USA for a 3 week super adventure! I had no idea what I had got myself into. At first the Step Up program was very strange, people has names I’d never heard of before like Asbjorn and Peitso and spoke with accents that at first were hard to understand but I got used to. It didn’t take long to figure out what types of music and movies were common around the world and what things were unique to Canada. I first made friends with the girls I shared a room with, they were all very different and I liked that. Sana was from Finland, Elisa was from Brazil and Johanna was from Germany. We asked each other questions about each others schools, friends and lives back home. Mostly we listened to music and danced and laughed together.

My favorite part of camp was planning group time. I never really had an opportunity like this before to plan and lead an activity for my peers, I loved it! Thinking about all the details and being super organized was totally up my ally. I got to be a true leader and the staff encouraged me a lot by telling me what a great job I was doing. I was encouraged to allow everyone in the group to contribute their ideas since their language skills in English were not as fluent as mine. It really opened my eyes to realize that just because someone couldn’t express themselves in English didn’t mean they had no ideas or abilities.

After I returned home from my Step Up I remember feeling very connected to what was happening around the world. Not only did I know where Indonesia was on a map now I knew what their flag looked like and that monkey’s were common pests who would get into the trash bags and make a mess similar to raccoons in the USA. I even had a collection of currency from other countries as a keepsake. I couldn’t help but want to make the world a better place. I decided that the best way for me to contribute was to be a good person and hopefully inspire others to do the same.

I believe this experience gave me the attitudes of open mindedness and compassion that I continued to have in my high school life. I made friends of many different origins and found a lot of love in helping people who attending the ESL program at our school. It was natural to choose the African student in my English class to be a partner for a project or make friends with a new immigrant from China in my choir. Being different was defiantly cool and it made me feel confident in being myself.

Today I am happy to contribute to my community and feel that investing our time in the children is a great way to create a brighter future for our world. I realize that there are many different types of people with different lifestyles and values and take the time to understand the point of view from a different shoe.

Thanks to my parents and everyone who supported me I was able to attend many CISV programs in my childhood. Each one of them full of new experiences and life lessons that I cherish. Since 1997 I have participated in 8 International Program 6 of which were held in Canada or the USA.

Alanna as JC in Ottawa 1998

– Alanna King