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 🙂


What is beauty?

Beauty has a lot to do with diversity, or at least I think so. The truth is, being different is one of the good things about life because it means that we can change, we can become someone new every time we want it. We can look different, change the colour of our hair, paint our nails in different ways, dress in different styles. But, what does it mean to be beautiful?

The idea of beauty has changed so much in the last hundred year, for instance what used to be a beautiful woman in the 20’s or the 50’s is not a beautiful woman in 2013. I would say that the main reason for this is media. The truth is that media shows us and, through propaganda and advertising, makes us want to fit into a mould build by our own society -and it has been that way because we have allowed it to be; which has made it harder for a lot of women and girls to find some peace of mind and learn to love themselves.

3086675410_65a48a77cd_oGeorge Grantham Bain Collection. New York beauties at Atlantic City carnival, 1922. [http://www.flickr.com/photos/mijori/3086675410/].

5163782525_2539e4b953_oNational Photo Company Collection. Four prize winners in an annual beauty show, Washington Bathing Beach – Washington, D.C., circa 1922 [http://www.flickr.com/photos/hollywoodplace/5163782525/].

In all honesty I can say that our brains have been modified by everything around us: our friends, family, media… Basically, today’s society but we don’t have to put ourselves through that much pressure. The message I want to share with you today is, like in the video I will add here, let’s rethink beauty, let’s redefine it, let’s show others that there are many ways of showing what beautiful really means. We don’t have to be all barbies, that’s the real message media should send. We don’t need to look all the same, under the same mould with the same characteristics, we can be different and still beautiful in our own way, and that’s the beauty of diversity.

Clic on the image below and you will see a video that is part of a big campaign DOVE is doing for redefining beauty, for making all women believe that they are beautiful the way they are, all different one from another. They want woman and girls to be able to show something they call: Real Beauty.

Comment on this post and tell us: WHAT DO YOU THINK REAL BEAUTY IS?




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

Having a look at stereotypes:

Since we are working on the theme of diversity, we have been wondering about stereotypes that some people have about certain cultures, religions, countries, and so on. One reiterative aspect we have found so far is that it is really common to either generalize or simplify other people’s life’s according to their birth place, their beliefs, their professions, etc., and we can easily judge others based on that.

Although it may sound rude or unfriendly, some of the stereotypes we have of others have no ground; on the contrary, they are inherited and we adopt them, making them our own. Sadly, we can end up discriminating people without really knowing who they are.

Related to this, I think there are many challenges we must assume and one of them is to evaluate the way we see others and interact with them. It is important to stop and take a careful look at our own selves and then be able to judge our own thoughts. By this I mean, unveil yourself and have a look of the stereotypes you are wearing or carrying with you.

I’m saying this because I have seen that we can hurt others by our own prejudices and it is important to be aware of that. Paradoxical or reciprocally these can also affect us, because human relations move in the field of diversity and that’s what we should do: be open and make use of dialogue, between the familiar and the otherness.

Finally, I think we all should be aware that every human being represents a whole universe. So, if we make an effort trying to understand them, we won´t step back and we will stop seeing others as a threat.

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!!!

Because who is perfect?


Hei hei!

While watching this video, I thought of inviting you to reflect upon your own stereotypes, and that includes the way how you actually portrait beauty and tend to frame people according to how they look like, rather than based on how they really are.
In addition to that, I consider that it’s extremely important for all of us to work towards a more inclusive society, knowing about other people’s realities, which should not be ignored by us. In a way, it is our mission to make each other visible.
We encourage you to embrace diversity and “diverse diversities”.
Less words, more facts!
because who is perfect

The Recycled Orchestra!

“People realize that we shouldn’t throw away trash carelessly. Well, we shouldn’t throw away people either”.

This is a very inspiring video about the Recycled Orchestra called the “Landfill Harmonic” in Paraguay, where underprivileged children experience life through music, playing instruments made with recycled material only.

I just thought this could be a very nice way of showing a different side of diversity, diversity of music!


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.

IMG_2796 IMG_2799

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!

Must see!

Hi everyone!

I saw a film titled ‘Rosso come il cielo’ directed by Cristiano Bortone, and I strongly recommend you to watch it. I couldn´t find the full movie but you can have a look of the trailer. So, if you are really interested in it, you can try either to buy it or download the full movie.

I do think is worth it, and also if you have any comments you are more than welcome to write them down.

Rosso come il cielo

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