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…

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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…

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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!

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.

Who are we?

We, the divers, are two Colombians and two Norwegians seeking to look under the surface of what diversity means and its implications to peace education. We are also seeking to improve the organizations relations between the two countries.

This is the third exchange project, funded by Fredskorpset (FK). We will be working on the theme of Diversity; the one on 2012 managed a better understanding of Sustainable Development and the one that ended this summer focused their attention in Human Rights. Hopefully next year a new cooperation project will start working on the CISV’s fourth content area: Conflict-Resolution.

During these eight months, we want to develop useful tools by doing research, workshops, interviews and arranging local activities.

We would like for everyone to participate and get involved in this exchange and in the activities we will be facilitating. At the end of this eight months, we hope to be able to publish a book as a result of our cultural experiences and research.

Group photo fløyen

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.

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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.

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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.

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