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.

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 😉

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.

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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!



Leaders training in Bogotá

We started the day in a horrible way… We had to meet at 7.30am on a saturday (!) to be able to catch the bus to the campsite. Since I’m here in Colombia, I’m trying to adapt as much as possible and that means arriving in Colombian time; 15 minutes late.. The campsite was next to a small town outside Bogotá and it was an amazing place with beautiful nature, great facilities, delicious food and very sunny(that made me sunburned…)!


During the weekend we had a lot of different trainings. What we loved about these trainings was that the staff had made activities and games out of very theoretical topics. To illustrate, put us in situations, to plan and have a lot of fun!


We had a lot of different experiences in this camp. Some were new, but brought experience from other organizations og sports and some had been to several camps. This was a really good training with a lot of new perspectives 🙂


The Colombian life

Colombia is amazing! I’ve spend 2 weeks here already, and seen many different places in Bogotá. The city is very easy to understand with Carreras y Calles (streets and avenues), but the private public transport system is very randomized. If you want to go somewhere as a tourist, taxi is a good solution and it is cheap! I’m starting to get to know some of the busses and the Transmilenio (the «overground» system thats very easy to understand and it is frequent!) helps me getting around.


The first weekend I met the interchange group between CISV Norway and CISV Colombia and we went to a salt mine 50 km outside Bogotá that was turned into Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá in the 1950s. The idea of a cathedral inside the mountain is pretty cool, and the sculptures and the lighting gives you a magical impression. It was really nice to listen to their experiences during their 2 weeks stay here in Colombia. With the excursions, the minicamp and to see how Colombian people lives. Its so nice to see how young people from different cultures can interact with each other and have such a great time while learning about the country.


The frase; Building global friendship, gives me a whole new perspective in this project. I haven’t spent much time at my apartment so far because I’m meeting new awesome people every day! The friendliness in Colombia is amazing. People are so inclusive (when they are not speaking spanish), and takes me all over the city. I’ve been invited to some family dinners and they are all kind of adopting me as a son even after 5 minutes..

Bogota Piru Arnold

While I am used to snow, wear 5 layers of clothing and skiing in Norway at this time of the year, I’m wearing t-shirts, walk in the parks and getting sunburned during my stay in Bogotá. It is supposed to be a rainy area, but so far I’ve only seen rain for just 2 hours. The weather is usually warm during day and cold at night. As a foreign viking, nighttime is sweater time 😉

Bolivar park
Simon Bolivar park

Stereotypes impressions after 2 weeks:

Colombian time = Not true, 50/50 within the population.
Dangerous = Not very, the most dangerous I’ve experienced so far is crossing the streets..
Crazy taxi drivers = TRUE
Amazing food = True
Great coffee = TRUE!
Beautiful women = TRUE!!!!!!
Dancing = They are all good dancers, and I feel embarrassed every time I go out in a party.
Lazy people = Not true, most of the people work from 8-18.

Cow LA Conijera
La Conejera

Saying Goodbye… Norwegian style!

The last weekend we had in Norway was definitely a weekend we will not forget –and I don’t think I’m talking only about the two Colombians but for the other three foreigners that were with us in Eggedal (two from the Gambia and one from Kenya).

In our first post we talked about the LNU (the Norwegian Children and Youth Council) preparation course with members of two other exchange projects. Well, we all loved that first week together so much that we decided to spend a couple of our last days together again before we all left for the second part of the exchange outside Norway.


The cabin trip had quite an unexpected beginning while arriving: Mikkel’s car flipped over the small hill, which was literally ice and then just landing in its head. Although at first I must admit it was a bit scary, it was just funny and kind of ironic in a way. What made this beginning so funny was the fact that we (3 non-Norwegians) were wondering in the middle of nowhere, up in a mountain and walking in an iced-floor behind two prepared and experienced Norwegians with our bags and some food we had bought before. Basically it was, with no doubts, a real “cultural experience” for us.



The next day came and with it the other people of the group. We had decided to make a Christmas celebration so that all the foreigners could experience that before going back to our countries. The result was lovely! Great food (I should mention that the 4 non-Norwegian girls cooked a very Norwegian dish and apparently it was as it should be, which of course made us feel proud of our team work), great people, lots of funny moments, laughter, games and for sure one of my top ten Christmas celebrations ever!



When we got back to Bergen, we had a great “quiz night” at the CISV house with tons of people, ate rice porridge and laughed way too much, it was a great way of saying goodbye to the place that had been our second home during those months and, of course, to the people.

Leaving Norway was difficult for many reasons. First, saying goodbye is never easy and this was not the exception, it was sad to say goodbye to all the great people we met and to Bergen, our amazing city. Second, we were excited to be going back home and see our friends and families, and of course, we missed our beautiful city Bogotá, but then again the fact that we had so many conflicted emotions made it even harder.

That is why, even though it’s been a month, I would like to take advantage of this blog post and thank everyone we met, all the people who made our days sunny even though it was incredibly cold. Thank you all for great memories and great moments.

Last but not least, belated Happy New Year for all!!!

The divers in the UK!

On October we went to England with two important events on our agendas: one, see Rupert and meet everyone from the International Office in Newcastle and two, to participate and run an activity in Leeds at the GBJB training.


We decided to travel separately and so Tora and Mikkel travelled before Anita and I. The two Colombians wondering at the King’s Cross station in London was definitely a fun experience and it got even better when we arrived to Newcastle and we didn’t really know where to go from the train station. After asking a couple of people we finally got to the Hostel and, after a couple of hours, met with the other half of the team.

The next morning we were ready for our first task in England, a long but interesting meeting with Rupert (educational officer) and other members of CISV International, which went along smoothly.


The couple of days in Newcastle were soon over and we had a fantastic and unforgettable English experience on our way to Leeds. Our train to Durham was cancelled and so we had to catch a different one, which meant us running from one train to another for a while.


Right before leaving Newcastle we had decided to get some fish and ships for the ride and then, when we realized the first train was cancelled and that we had no seats on the new one it just got even better, so basically we had the whole “First Class” section smelling quite nice. After half an hour, still there standing up, the train stopped because there was a sheep in the middle of the rail, quite a funny and lovely experience, isn’t it?

We got to another place and took another train and yet another and finally, after some long couple of hours, we got to Leeds (more specifically to Hebden Bridge) where we had to wait for an hour or so for Andrew (one of the members of the GBJB Board) to come pick us up –to be fair, he did have a lot of people to pick up and spend quite some time going back and forth from the Train Station to the campsite.


When we finally arrived to the campsite we started talking to the juniors and having great fun! The weekend passed in laughter, good activities and we were amazingly surprised by how great our activity went, not necessarily because our activity was the best (although we really liked it) but because everyone was very much into the discussion and it turned out to be much better that we’d expected it to be.

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Basically, we had a great time in the UK! Crazy weather, crazy people and crazy adventures that I am pretty sure we will all remember.

Thanks to the great people we met at the International Office, the GBJB Board and all the members of the JB!

Verden i Bergen!

Last week the divers had an extraordinary experience with the ViB mosaic project. This project started in 2002 and the idea of it is to create a safe and fun learning environment for children from different backgrounds. In order to achieve this, norwegian children and children from an asylum reception center were invited as every year.

It was quite a busy week with the preparations and making sure everything was as perfect as possible. Starting on monday and finishing on wednesday, the kids got to share and enjoy themselves playing around, screaming, jumping, and constantly smiling. We had a lot of really great leaders helping out and a fantastic group of kids. It really was a great combination of people! What was even better was to see all the leaders so involved and committed to the workshops and to see how all the kids really connected and welcomed each other, both norwegian and non-norwegian.

In the end, it really was a great experience for all of us. We had fun, we learnt, we laughed, we cooked, we painted, we talked, we wrote, we shared!

Peace One Day!!

On September 21st we went to Oslo to participate at NEO, running a couple of activities and getting to know leaders and Jc’s from all over Norway. We were there for the whole weekend and on Saturday we went to Oslo city centre to build a stand for Peace One Day with the two EVSers working for CISV Norway in Oslo.


The six of us had quite an experience while giving away flyers and explaining to people what Peace One Day is all about.  We also put up some walls with the question: Who will you make peace with? And people would just come and write, which at the end of the day left us very colorful walls.


Yet, that saturday morning before going to Oslo City centre, the EVSers showed a video at the NEO campsite to explain what this day was all about and then we did the same activity: we put up some walls for them to write on and we left. When we got back to the campsite we were excited to see that many of the participants, leaders and staff members had also written on our walls. Basically, it was a very nice day to make peace with the world.


In the end we were very happy for being able to participate at Peace One Day and being able to transmit the importance of this day to people in CISV and people outside CISV.

If you want to learn more about Peace One Day just click the link. You can also check out the CISV in Support of Peace One Day page in facebook and see what other CISVers around the world did this year.

Last but not least, here is the link to a video made for CISV from Jeremy Gilley, founder of POD! ENJOY!

Peace One Day – CISV

Out on a Wednesday!

Last Wednesday we were invited by our coordinator Eirik to go check out his band Kameleon Orkesteret at this local bar called Biblioteket Bar. We, at least Anita & I, had never seen Eirik play the piano so evidently we were wondering what his band would sound like, even though we had met other members of the band. Finally, full of expectations and tons of curiosity we went there at 8:15pm. I must admit I was 15 minutes late but still, when I arrived and heard the music playing, I rushed into a room full of soft lights on and some cozy sofas. Yeah, that’s right, a perfect place to sit down, drink a beer or even a hot cup of tea and listen to some live music.


Under a huge chandelier were the 5 guys we were expecting to see. They started singing this “oldie” songs but somehow they managed to change them from their original versions and give a “jazzy” ring to them. I’ll just tell you that it was a groovy experience and I genuinely loved listening to Are’s & Alf’s amazing voices, Eirik enjoying himself so much playing the piano as well as having fun rapping, which I must say never thought I would see him doing.

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In the end, it was a great evening that Anita, Mikkel & I enjoyed very much. Can’t wait to go back for some more of their music!

Host Family Weekend

Last weekend us, the two Colombians, were supposed to spend the whole weekend with a host Norwegian family in Bergen. They picked me up at the CISV Office on Friday at about 5:30pm and from then on I spent 3 days with them and had the best time.


Since the very beginning I felt as if I was at home. The first day we played ‘Cluedo’ –a board game- and they showed me some Norwegian maps (a good start to get to know this culture!). After that, we had a great dinner together!

On Saturday we went to Ulriken, which is the highest mountain in Bergen. To get to the top we took the aerial tramway and I could see the city and everything that was around it. We walked for almost 4 hours, surrounded by the beauty of nature: so inspiring! I definitely loved that place.

Finally, on Sunday we spent most of the time at the “Bergen Matfestival” (a street market for organic food), and there I tried different types of Norwegian food which included cheese tasting, jam, honey, ice cream and so on. Undoubtedly, it was a nice weekend.


I am glad I had this experience; because I learned so many things and met an amazing family who shared their time and their lovely home with me. Now, all I can say is that I feel very happy and thankful for that weekend.

Our new office!

The first week at the office was a bit messy. The room who was supposed to be our office is having an extreme makeover! The walls were yellow, the furniture was old and the carpet floor was worn.. The members of CISV Bergen has done a fantastic job by removing the old carpet from the floor and painted the walls. Tora, Anna and I went with the president of CISV Bergen to IKEA on friday for getting some new furniture, while “the floor guy” was laying a new carpet floor. We had an exhausting, but an amazing day with a lot of ideas and solutions for our new office!

At monday afternoon the IKEA transport passed by the CISV house, and dropped off our new fancy shelfs, tables and chairs. We were so excited and started to assembly it as fast as possible. Unfortunately we didn’t have all the tools, so we continued on tuesday with the rest. By now its looking good, and we are all happy to start working in here.