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.


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?

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!

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.

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.

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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!

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