Beyond the International Programmes: applying diversity education at home

Our biggest yearly programme season is officially over. If you participated in one of the 237 international programmes that were organised all over the globe in the last few months, chances are that now you are super excited and super thrilled to apply all the lessons you learned in your daily lives. Like for everything in life, there’s not a single recipe on how this can be done, but in the next paragraphs, we tried to put together a few suggestions that have worked for us in the past and that we think can be beneficial also for others.

Be observant

Hopefully, your CISV experience has taught you that diversity is everywhere around us. It is not only about the colour of our skin, the language we speak, or the gender of the people we love. A lot of the diversity that you encounter as you go about your life is probably a far less evident than that. A lot of diversity has to do with personal experiences, individual world views, background, and education.

Here’s a simple exercise: think about the person that you would consider to be the most similar to you – a family member or a best friend might come to mind. Make a mental inventory of all the little things that set you apart and try not to focus on the physical characteristics, it is very likely that you’ll end up with a list that is much longer than you thought it would be. Imagine how many things will set you apart from the people that you don’t feel so similar to! The first lesson about diversity that you can apply every day is to notice just how much diversity is surrounding you, and be amazed by it.

Be respectful

Once you notice the massive amount of diversity you’re living in, the next step is to accept it and embrace it. The more you learn to notice similarities and differences among the people in your life, the more you will notice things that you are unfamiliar with and that may make you uncomfortable.

In these situations remember that there is never a right or a wrong way to be human. Always accept people for who they are and never try to change them to make them more similar or more appealing to you. Acceptance of diversity does not mean that you shouldn’t stand up for the things that you believe in. When you feel uncomfortable or angry in a situation, separate the person from their actions and words. It is ok to disagree and to explain your disagreement with these actions and words, but you must always treat the person with dignity and respect. Be considerate and keep in mind how your different experiences affect whether some actions or ideas are more or less acceptable to either of you.

Be proactive

To conclude, if you find yourself in a situation where discrimination or inequality bother you and clash with your values and the idea of peace that you believe in, don’t be afraid to speak up and get involved. There are many organizations all over the world that fight for almost every cause out there. Find the one that suits you best and start making a change. The goal of CISV is to educate and inspire action for a more just and peaceful world. We do this mostly through our international programmes, but the most effective way in which our principles can have a tangible effect is by acting locally. There are several ways that CISV Chapters promote our principles at a local level, including Junior Branch (JB) activities, Mosaic projects, and all sort of local and national activities. The next few posts will guide you through some of the amazing opportunities CISV has to offer beyond international programmes. They will explore what local, national, and international JBs have done throughout the year to promote diversity, what Mosaics have been or could be organized on the topic, how local and national boards can promote diversity education within their non-travelling members, and so much more.

So stay tuned because even if this programme season is over, CISV never sleeps and there is so much more to learn and do. As usual, if you have any suggestions or anecdotes on how to apply teachings from CISV activities in your everyday life, we are always happy to read your emails at diversity@cisv.org.

See you soon,
The Diversity Campaign team

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