RTF in Medellín

In the middle of April, the Divers travelled to the capital city of the paisa region, Medellín. It’s time for RTF (Regional Training Forum) for CISVers. This is a training forum were many leaders and other committed people in CISV come together to be trained for all our programs, the JB and to be trainers for our future leaders of delegations.

When Ranis was doing Andinos (a blogpost of this will be published soon), I started the week with TTT – Train The Trainers. This was a very intense and exciting program worth participate in sometime. After spending some years with CISV you should know a lot of how everything works… After 3 days of TTT, you realize how little you actually knew about CISV and their educational principles. What we learned was how to create a positive learning environment, group development and group dynamics, collaboration in training teams, giving and receiving feedback, peace education and active global citizenship, CISV educational approach and so on..

During this week, we had 2 common sessions for all participants of RTF. The first one was about music where we played 3 totally different songs and asked the participants for their opinions, as if they were critics of a music magazine. The goal of this activity was to show that diversity also means disagreeing -not only about music tastes but also about issues where it is harder to say “it’s just a question of individual taste”. In our second common session, we gave the participants some paragraphs from our soon-to-be-published-book: The Kaleidoscope. We asked them to discuss how these paragraphs were related to diversity, and also gave them a teaser of our product.

After the first part of RTF/Andinos, we participated in AJBM – Americas Junior Branch Meeting. Our roles were mostly participants, but we also ran 2 activities. The first one was about social media, and how we approach ourself with just profiles, and not being able to talk to each other face-to-face. We made the participants fill out a facebook profile, and then give each other friend requests, likes and comments. The second and last activity we did during RTF was about racism, and we asked the participants to divide into 4 groups and make an act of racism thru time. 2 groups acted racism from a historical perspective and the rest acted how racism is seen today. This made the participants really active. We have never experiences so much encouragement in a group before, so this was definitely a great success!

We are so happy about this RTF in Medellín. We made new friends, new connections, gained a lot of new knowledge and experience to bring into our local communities and chapters.


You can also take a quick look of how the AJBM was by clicking the link:

AJBM 2014

Video made by Vanesa Gallego (Ecuadorian NJR) and posted by CISV Ecuador.

Look Up!

Hello everyone! We hope you are doing well.

It’s been quite sometime since the last time we wrote something and many, many things have been happening to the Divers. Don’t worry too much, we will write about that during this week. For now, there’s something else I would like to talk to you about.

I found a video that has been going viral on facebook and other social networks. Seems a bit ironic though, that this video talks about how we are living an illusion called social media and not living real life; how we are interacting with others through our phones and computers instead of actually taking the time to look into their eyes and get to really know them. Still, even though it is also ironic that I am writing about this and sending you a message through my computer and another social network, I think this are the kind of messages worth opening facebook for. This person, Gary Turk, made the video you will find below and I honestly found refreshing to listen to those words and seeing so many people sharing them.

About almost 2 weeks ago we ran an activity about facebook and social media and how it is changing our social dynamics in terms of the way we are interacting with each other, at the same time that it has implications in the building of our own identity, and this video reminded me of it.

I say “changing social dynamics” because not too long ago people would actually write to one another, whether if it was letters, postcards or simply small notes, but they waited for those impatiently and, once they received them, it was exciting and fascinating to open the envelop and start reading what someone took the time to write for them. Children weren’t absorbed by technology, but would go outside and enjoy nature. Creativity and imagination was all they needed, and they would build houses made out of boxes and sheets. But it has all changed now. We entertain children with technology and, how can we tell them to not get absorbed by it, when we are too?

I still think technology is fantastic and being able to reach people, who live in the other side of the world, within seconds is a revolutionary idea. Still, I think we have let ourselves get too excited about it and so, like Gary said, we might have hundreds of friends on facebook, but when we want to go drink a coffee or go for a walk, how many of those friends are willing to join you?

So, here’s my challenge for all of you -including me. Why don’t we, for a day, leave our phones at home and try to go through a whole day without them. Let’s look at people’s faces, let’s have real conversations with them and let us open our minds in order to discover things we haven’t been able to, like for example how good it feels to walk around the city on a sunny day.

Finally, here is the video… Enjoy the rest of your week!

Credits of the video:

Written, Performed & Directed by Gary Turk.
Featuring Louise Ludlam & Stuart Darnley.
Original score by New Desert Blues.
Sound engineering by Daniel Cobb.
Filmed and edited by Gary Turk.



You might think that diversity is all about identity and multiculturalism, but diversity is so much more. Diversity can be seen in everything in your daily life, like the way you perceive yourself, the way you dress, how you feel, the way you behave with different groups of people, the  different social environments, and the nature around you. Diversity cover so many topics, and today, I will tell you a bit about biodiversity.

Biodiversity is a short word of biological diversity. A short description would be to say that biodiversity is the variety of life. To give you some examples of this, ecosystem, humans, animals, insects, plants, basically each living and non-living organism. Each one of these plays a vital role in the circle of life. They interact together and can for example create food, oxygen or shelter. The importance of those thing to us, as humans, is critical. Without food, we’ll starve to death, without oxygen, we’ll not be able to breathe, and without shelter, we’ll freeze to death in the cold parts of this planet.

The interesting thing with biodiversity is wherever you travel, you will probably see different ecosystems, plants and animals. If you stay in your own country and going up in the mountain or in the forest you will see difference. And if you go abroad, to another continent, you will see completely different species. This is because the different species of plants or animals have developed certain characteristics throughout the years to the current climate. That is why you won’t fin a certain cactuses in the rainforest or a lion in the mountains of Norway.

Therefore, the biological diversity is quite important to make the circle of life spin around, and the issue we have seen developed through the last years, is the climate change. The climate change might raise the temperature with a couple of degrees and make the weather more extreme. It is hard to prove and to know what will happen, but somethings will certainly change. Some of the vulnerable species might not be able to adapt to the changes, parts of coral reefs will die and if the average temperature on planet earth raises with just 2 degrees, it will melt a lot of ice on the north and the south pole, and then cause the water levels to rise significantly. This will again cause a flooding of many cities all over the world. What will then happen? I don’t even want to imagine.

This is my short casual text about my point of view of biodiversity and its importance. I added some links inside the text, and feel free to take a look at them.

Palms and stuff

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

I have had the privilege of being involved in this particular arena and I would say that there are a lot of things that can be done. Particularly, we can start by not underestimating these people, since they just need other tools and resources to be a part of a community where they can enjoy the same rights we do, and where they feel included.

You might say that they have difficulties but in truth, they are not the only ones; we also face challenges and difficulties in our lives. For example, one may need a wheelchair to go from one place to another, someone else may need glasses to see better, or maybe… just maybe, someone needs a friend during hard times.

We all have barriers, whether they are physical or attitudinal, but when we talk about attitudinal barriers it is very difficult to break free, which is why it is so important to be aware of differences and be accepting towards others, even if they seem a little strange to us.

Working for a more inclusive society is one of our duties and we should not leave this important task to governments or organizations; we should not blame it on others while sitting on the coach of our living room. We cannot continue to live in a world where injustice and rejection play a primary role. It is us the ones who need to take action into our own hands and start making a difference, for as big or as small as it may be.

There was an article that talked about social initiative in both big and large groups of people. What seemed very odd was that, the bigger the group the less action there was and, at the end, when they asked people ‘Why didn’t you do something to change the situation you were seeing?’ all of them would answer: “Because I thought someone else would do it.” In smaller groups though, people didn’t hesitate to react towards the simulations, working together while creating a strategy for social action, giving great inputs to solve the situations they were seeing. What I’m trying to say is: let’s not wait for someone else to do something; in the words of M. Gandhi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

To give you some tips on social initiatives, take a look at the ‘Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ and start thinking of ways you can contribute to enrich diversity in your communities.

Like ants do, let’s all work together to build the world we want to live in.




Last week I came across this campaign that Save the Children is making in order to create awareness about children’s situation around the world. One of the main focuses right now are the children suffering in Syria and well, even though it is true that Syria is facing some difficult times right now, the slogan is not very far from the truth –not only there but in many places today: “just because it isn’t happening here, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening”.

I would guess most of the northern countries don’t have to deal with these issues today but, countries like mine for instance, face similar situations although a bit less evident for the rest of the world. In Colombia –not to mention many other Latin American countries- we can see how children are being thrown out of their homes and sent to the main cities to wonder on the streets, sleep under bridges or under the rain; dealing with diseases and infections, and asking for money to anyone who is willing to give them. But then again, the problem is not whether we want to help them or not, of course we want to help them! But it is not that simple, because in reality we don’t know if their stories are true or not, maybe because we’ve heard the same story a million times –probably because it has happened a million times- or maybe because we have a hard time believing this is actually happening to our people, or simply because (and this for me may be, unfortunately, the correct answer) we are so used to the internal conflict our country has been through, that we are not touched by these people and we simply got used to them, becoming more indifferent towards our own reality.

This is a little something of a deeper article we will have on our book. For now, let me invite you to acknowledge your reality, be aware of what is happening in your community, your city, and your country. Try not to be indifferent towards others and try to understand the stories that hide behind their eyes… And always remember: just because it isn’t happening here, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

Have a great week everyone!

Medellín, baby!

Two weeks ago Ranis and I went to the beautiful city of Medellín. It was my first time there, and I had heard so many good things about this city. We spent the the friday walking around and explore some of the city. It is true what they say about beautiful girls over there.. You fall in love in every corner.. But the purpose of this trip was the mini-camp of CISV Medellín.

We went to the meeting point at 9.30 am on saturday. At the meeting point we saw 87 participants and a bunch of leaders! The kids was full of energy while they ran around excited for the minicamp. After the leaders managed to put the kids into the busses and we were all set for departure, we drove to the campsite. They actually managed to leave one of the leaders at the meeting point, so he run after us and caught up with the bus after 15 minutes.

The plan for the first half of this day was some get-to-know-each other activities aka. name games. While the group had fun with names, Ranis and I backed out for a bit for some work with our book. When we came back they had prepared a game where you first are going to eat an apple in a bowl of water and then you are going to find a candy inside a pile of flour decorated with an egg (see pictures). This made some of the kids look like they had put on way too much make up, in a funny way.

In the evening it was time for dinner, and an activity ran by the NJRs, Paula and Valentina. It was a nice evening with lullabies and pajama time. Most of the leaders went straight to bed after the leaders meeting, since it was a long and an active day.

9am – breakfast time! 9 AM!!! So nice to have a bit more relaxed time schedule, then what I’m used to in camps.. This day we just had 1 activity, and it was actually scheduled to be swimming/chilling/tanning time after lunch. After the mandatory cleaning time, we went back to the center of Medellín with smiles on our faces and happiness inside.

I would say, the best part of this camp, was the great food! WOOOOW! Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack… everything was delicious. Its my first time with so much good food 🙂 Well done Medellín! On sunday evening, we went to have dinner with some of the leaders. I think it is very important to hang out with new people when you have the chance, and I don’t regret! Thank you for an amazing time Medellín. See you soon 😉

What do you see when you look at the sky?


I chose this title because it can briefly describe the divers’ experience at Planetarium of Bogotá. Even though most of the people think this one is one of the perfect places for kids to be in, I could say that this is a place for grown-ups too. The Planetarium leads us to rethink how diverse our planet actually is.

Surrounded by question marks, we noticed that we know nothing about the universe, or in other words (said by the Planetarium): “our knowledge of the universe does not only come from what we can see”. This questioning was the perfect start for another research of how diversity looks like outside planet earth. We decided to go far up…

Every generation is different; traditions shift and our perception also changes. It changes every time someone says something new, rediscovers any thing or finds out something we have not even thought of before.

A long time ago, people knew when to plant and grow food depending on how the stars were aligned; they could know when the next season was coming because the sky was their main calendar and guide. For instance, Mayans were the first ones to create an “annual” calendar based on the position of the sun and the moon respectively. Every hour the light from both, the sun and the moon, would point at a different angle of the calendar (a circle made in stone, by the way). The thing was that they noticed that the rotation of the earth was conditioned by factors that they couldn’t really understand. Having a calendar was not enough though, they needed a compass to guide them; they would know when to grow fruits but not where to do it, so they used the stars and the constellations to create an imaginary map for them to follow when they needed to build, grow food, haunt, etc.

Mayan_Zodiac_CircleComplete Haab cycle. This photo was taken by Theilr and posted in the Flickr site on 27 December 2007, 13:17:07

Today, we have our own calendar and our own “technologically” assembled compasses, which is probably why all these questions about the universe would not come up in a normal conversation, it’s like everything had been figured out by others for us. Probably, sometimes you are even looking at you smartphone instead of taking a minute to look up to the sky and try to find the “Polaris”, or maybe too busy running in the complexity of modern cities to try and understand why we, sometimes, see Mars in the sky and sometimes we don’t (a little hint: the reason is called the Mars’ Illusion).

What I am trying to say is that the universe is so complex, that there are still questions without answers… Unsolved puzzles. Although there are many theories and hypothesis about the beginning of the universe, there are many remaining doubts, but the interesting thing is that there are many possible ways of looking at one single phenomenon. Either way, all those theories we think are so crazy, should all be respected and why not, heard once or twice. That’s just another way of giving diversity the place it deserves in this world… or maybe in outer space.

I would like to encourage you to have a look at what is around us and you’ll see how small we really are while looking at the big wide night sky, but just keep in mind that for as small as we may be, imagination and curiosity can cross barriers and overcome any limits.

So I want to give you a little task. Why don’t you ask yourself: what do you see when you look at the sky?


We have now been promoting the project we are a part of to the International Governing Board. Last week, we got asked if we wanted to make a short video about the cooperation we are a part of. The task was to make it as short as possible, interesting and show what this exchange has done. We hope you’ll like it, and spread it all over the world! So this is our result:


The High, The Mighty & The Supreme Leader

Last week we introduced ourselves: The Divers, but the team is never complete without some pressure… And who are the ones putting pressure on us the whole time? The answer to this is summarised in three particular characters. They are known, among us, as: “the High” because he is very incredibly tall (for colombian height that is) and he always sees things from a new perspective; the “Mighty” because he will fix anything at anytime; and the “supreme leader” because he actually is the supreme leader. Basically if either “The High” or “The Mighty” are helping us or are fixing something, this last guy has the final word.

So the first additional member of this fantastic team called The Divers is:

Oss på taket

THE HIGH (aka EIRIK):  My name is Eirik Breivik Minde and at 34 years old I have the pleasure of working as the coordinator for this exchange. I was born and raised on the west coast of Norway but have travelled all my life. I developed a strong relationship with Colombia and my pension-plan is to settle down on a farm there.

I am also a professional musician and a dedicated father to a little boy who will soon be two years old. He is the most important thing in my life and he exemplifies my main reason to work with CISV: I genuinely believe that we can create a better world based on mutual respect, understanding and friendship.

I have lots of interests but right now I really look forward to the world cup in Brazil. My son and I are ready to cheer for Colombia in our new football shirts!

The second additional member of this one-of-a-kind team is…

2013-10-02 15.16.16

THE MIGHTY (aka JUANMA): My name is Juan Manuel Oviedo but everyone calls me Juanma. I am a 27-year-old that was lucky enough to join the exchange crew in 2011 when it was first thought of. I have been involved with community work in my country (Colombia), working with different NGO’s to strengthen their work. I am now a lawyer working on the international cooperation arena, with emphasis in Development work done in Colombia. I am a lover of prawns, travel and good life. I cannot be in one single place for more than a month. Languages and cultures are a part of my passion. CISV and me, a secret love, a hidden adventure. One of the most important parts of my life. It has been a life experience to learn about social justice and diversity of thinking, minds, and cultures.

Last but not least, we have the last additional member of the crew, he is…


THE SUPREME LEADER (aka ANDREAS): My name is Andreas Mjelva and I am the National Secretary of CISV Norway and also the one in charge of the whole cooperation together with the project coordinators. I am 28 years old and live in Oslo, Norway. If you had met me 10 years ago you would have met a spoiled, selfish 18-year old whose only goals would be to be a professional football player and just get rich. However, after a trip to India and Tanzania when I was 18 years old my mindset changed completely. It was a world out there I did not know anything about and my experience changed me completely. Now my goal in life is to contribute to making the world a better place and I think CISV is a great place to start. Why Diversity? Because the world would be so boring without it. Diveristy of ideas, people and culture is one of the basic ingredients of progress.

Los tres jefes

So now you can really say that you know the team. Without the three of them we would not have a lot of pressure all the time, but we wouldn’t have gotten this far either. That’s why, without a doubt, they are a very important part of our team even if you don’t really see them as much as you might see us. Yet, thank you very much Mr. High, Mr. Mighty and Mr. Supreme Leader.

This is us, the divers… The full house!

The vikings in the land of coffee!

Last week we had one of the most extraordinary and welcomed visitors we have ever had from Norway since we landed in Colombia. The Norwegian CISV President (Ine Annett Jomaas), the National Secretary (Andreas Underland Mjelva), and our Norwegian Coordinator (Eirik Breivik Minde) came to make a nice evaluation of our project… Not to mention that they missed having the divers around.

They were here for a couple of days, evaluating the project but also having fun with us and doing different activities as well as tasting the authentic Colombian food (they might miss it by now). During those days many CISVers joined us, some of them were our Colombian coordinator (Juan Manuel Oviedo), CISV Colombia’s Vice-president (Rodrigo Esguerra), the two colombians of the Con Lupa project (Adelaida Barrera and Diana Camacho),  CISV International’s vice-president (Juan Carlos Lozano) and CISV Colombia’s National Secretary (Marcela Izquierdo). It was a space where we could see the strong link that characterizes the relationship between Norway and Colombia, as well as how intense and enriching these exchange projects are. Like we all said: it’s getting stronger than ever.


Sitting on the table we had the opportunity to talk about this organisation, its future, and we were wondering how CISV has achieved to create a huge impact throughout these years and how we can continue improving globally and locally. We all agreed that this project and its cooperation are unique, and we want for all of you to know about it, not only as future participants but as members of the CISV community. Additionally we, as a team, are really aware of this and the responsibility we have had trying to meet the organisational goals; still this has been quite a learning experience for us as individuals and as a team (not only us but our coordinators and our working team) both within the organisation and in our lives. We realised that this project is a process were we not only learn but share many things, and most importantly: we live, we dream, we believe in something, and this is why we are here trying to make this project better every time, knowing that peace is possible.


The week went by in a second, but we were happy to have had the chance of bringing the vikings to enjoy some warm wether before going back to the cold north, and to make them bring out the child inside them at the water park. They had fun, we had fun.

Melgar-6 Melgar-5 Melgar-4

We really want to take this opportunity to thank the vikings. Their visit was a reminder of how they, along with our Colombian side of the team, have been there for us since the very beginning and now more than ever, they have given us more strength and more reasons to keep doing what we do. We are genuinely happy to be a part of this project and especially to be a part of this team of extraordinary people!



Three Stones From the Sun!

Hello everyone out there! We understand that you may already know the team but the question is do you know each of us, as individuals?

Well, we wanted to introduce ourselves properly to those who haven’t had the great opportunity to meet this fantastic diverse team called the divers (we really love playing with words)!

Enjoy getting to know us and hopefully we will also have the great opportunity to meet you soon. Still, we’re very glad to have met so many wonderful people in Norway, England, and Colombia! Thank you all for your support!

The first of this “one-of-a-kind” team is…


ANITA (aka Big Mama): Hi there! I am Anita and I’m 24 years old. I am a psychologist and I love being it. I am Colombian, born in the capital city Bogota, and I’m here because I truly believe that every little thing we do has an impact in someone else. I could say that literature is one of my biggest passions, which is why wherever I go, I always bring books along. Also, there are authentic scenarios where I can feel at home, for example, laying down in the shadow beneath the tree, riding bicycle, having some coffee in a nice and cozy place (especially if there are amazing cakes or ice cream), going to the theatre and watching good films. In general, doing things that I feel can enrich my world, for instance taking a nap in a hammock is always enriching. I wanted to be part of this project working for peace education, knowing that children are both our hope and our future. My desire is to contribute to this content area (diversity) and its understanding; contributing to build bridges for a better tomorrow.

…The second person introducing himself comes from the north… Basically we could say he’s the viking diver…

Mikkel Profile
MIKKEL (aka Migue): My name is Mikkel Stokke and I am the guy in the Divers team. I was born 23 years ago and I was raised in Tønsberg, the oldest town in Norway. My mom, my dad and my two younger brothers, along with my dog have been my big support through all this years. I have been involved in CISV since 2011 and after that, summer is not summer without CISV. Diving is my passion, I love the ocean with its beauty and all its diversity, and the peace of mind you get under the surface. Since we, Norwegians, are born with skis on our feet, I enjoy skiing every winter and I am usually very active in terms of sports and activities, but sometimes I love to be lazy by laying on the couch, eat popcorn and watch movies.
Since CISV has taught me so much about myself and about peace education, and has given me some of the best friends you could have, I wanted to give something back to the organization. Interaction with people from all over the world is a great opportunity to gain knowledge about other cultures and realize how alike we really are.
…And last but not least, the third member of this “one-of-a-kind” team is…
ANNA (aka Ranis): I am Anna and I am 23 years old. I’m studying Politics & International Relations. I am a big fan of photography, passionate about music, arts and literature. I guess I am also a big football lover. I like enjoying a nice cup of english tea, chilling at home or just meditating for a while, or even like Anita, I love a good nap on a hammock in the middle of nowhere. I find it both interesting and funny how we all perceive reality in a different way, so it made me wonder about this idea we have that “we are all the same”. But, at what point are we the same and at what point are we different from each other? Could diversity go beyond color, race, nationality, culture or language? I guess in a way it also defines us, gives us identity. Since I had all these questions, I wanted to be a part of a project that attempts to discover or at least will try to look into that word we all use so much but barely have a concrete meaning for: diversity.
FINALLY, we want to share a couple of experiences… For instance in the following pictures you will be able to see what Migue means when he says “Norwegians are born with skis” and Colombians are definitely not… If you take a close look, we were trying to jump in the snow but then again, you can see who is the expert and who are not!
Jumping in snow-7
And of course you can’t miss the funny faces when landing on a very cold layer of snow… Ranis screaming, Anita holding her breathe (as if she was gonna swim) and Mikkel a very professional instructor…
Jumping in snow-8The result being this…Well, since this amazing post has not been embarrassing for us, we want to share the last pictures with all of you!




Undoubtedly, diversity is related to countless things that happen in every day life, in many contexts, places, and each of them affects us as individuals. Therefore, one relevant topic we can take into consideration while approaching diversity is identity but, what do we mean by identity?

Fortunately, this concept has directed us into interesting discussions and allows us to think deep about our own identity, life, and why not, the issues that make our society worry on a daily basis.

Everyone has an identity, but it doesn’t mean that it’s necessary already defined. On the contrary, identity characterizes itself for being dynamic and there are many experiences in our lives that lead us to change, to have other preferences, to use certain colors, and sometimes we feel puzzled with ourselves: we can even act in a certain way which we never expected.

We change through our entire life and it seems to me, this sense of identity starts to be more complex every time: there are people who spend most of their lives trying to find themselves, trying to figure out where they belong, in a way trying to define who they are. Talking, thinking, and understand identity implies to take into consideration multiple facts that makes us who we are and contribute to our own existence.

So what about social media? What’s its contribution when defining our identity? Does social media have an impact in our identity? What do you want to show on your profile picture today? Will it be the same picture tomorrow? How do you expect to be seen by others? What about your personal information? How far are you willing to go when it comes to uncovering yourself to others? What kind of music, books and quotes do you want people to notice on your profile? Do you have any clue why I’m asking this?

How many of us build an image just trying to be accepted by others instead of trying to be accepted first by ourselves? For example on Facebook, are we showing ourselves exactly like we are? Or are we showing the person we would want to be?

This is just a taste of what our book will bring along. We think identity and social media has a strong relation with our concept of diversity, which is why we would like you to start thinking about it while we bring you some more thoughts later!