Frequently Asked Questions
The explanation of fees and other costs covered most of the expenses we might incur. What is a realistic expectation for the extra cost of hosting our partner?
The cost of room, board and entertainment when hosting your partner as a member of your family varies according to your family's interests and lifestyle. CISV discourages extravagant entertaining or travel during the four week stay. You might reasonable expect additional expense of $300-$600 because you will tend to have more family activities than normal, even though you strive to maintain a normal family life pace.
Who plans the group and family activities during the month, and what is family week?
The Interchange families meet with the Delegation leader and a representative from the Interchange Committee to plan group activities and free time. Each family will have the responsibility to do its fair share of hosting activities or helping with group excursions. Typically no more than five planned group activities are scheduled so that proper emphasis can be placed on normal family life. Group activities include welcome and farewell parties, a trip to an Orlando theme park and a "National Night"where the guests share food and other aspects of their culture. A multinational camp is also held at a local camp or retreat site. All the young people and leaders from every Interchange Delegation in DC during the summer gather to build friendships and learn about each other's culture.
Family week is usually scheduled to occur in the later part of the Interchange. It is not always a full week, especially not in 2-week interchanges. During this time no group activities are scheduled, thus allowing family vacation travel if you like. Often families will use this opportunity to visit a nearby city or state. Travel is by no means required during family week.
When and how are the exact dates of the four-week interchange established?
Interchange dates are set by mutual agreement with the partner Delegation from another country. We encourage the Delegation to choose a 28 day period during July if at all possible This is usually most suitable for us, and allows us to schedule family week during the third week of July. Even allowing for another country's school schedule variances and travel requirements, we almost always schedule the Interchange for a 28 day period falling somewhere between June 25 and August 1.
Some Interchanges are for 2 or 3 weeks, and some occur during the Christmas holiday.
Families are consulted before final dates are set, and the information is made available as quickly as possible.
What if we can't afford all the fees, preparation and travel expenses?
CISV is the greatest bargain imaginable for such a memorable, educational and culturally enriching experience. Regardless, the total cost can be difficult for some families. CISV encourages participation from the entire DC community, without regard for race, religion or economic circumstances. To that end, our Chapter has limited scholarship/financial assistance to those who have true need. The number and amount of financial assistance grants varies from year to year based on the number of applicants, the degree of need, and the amount of financial assistance funding available. For more information see the Chapter Information/Scholarship Section of the website. All information regarding applications and financial assistance awards is kept strictly confidential.
How can CISV operate these complex programs as an all-volunteer organization — who does the work?
Volunteers like you and me! Thousands of dedicated people devote many hours to CISV programs around the world because they have experienced the special, rewarding feeling that comes from making new friends around the world and learning about other cultures and ways of life. These volunteers want others to experience the same feeling, and they want to give something back to the organization that means so much to them and to their children.
If we apply for the interchange program, must we first be chapter members? Is it an advantage in the selection process to have previous membership or CISV program experience?
You are not required to be a Chapter member to apply for the Interchange Program. If your child is selected, Chapter membership is a part of the participation fee.
The goal of the Selection Committee is to choose delegates who form the most compatible, cohesive and representative delegations. The primary focus is on the child.
How are adult leaders selected and trained?
Leaders are volunteers, age 21 or older. The cost of the leader's travel is paid by the participating families. Each leader is also paid a modest honorarium. Leader applicants are screened carefully, including a criminal background check, through a selection process designed to ensure they are well-qualified and well-suited to lead the CISV Interchange Delegation during the preparation phase as well as during the four week stays in each country. CISV selects leaders who will be responsible and caring and whose top priority is always the children's safety and well-being. Volunteer leaders may be parents, teachers, counselors or others who have the willingness and ability to work well with children and who will carry out their responsibilities in accordance with CISV policy.
Leadership training is mandatory for adult leaders and staff. Local and National training includes the basics of CISV philosophy, program content, potential problem recognition, cultural awareness, risk management and conflict resolution.
During the travel portion of the Interchange, our leader stays in the home of the host leader, and helps with all group activities. Interchange leaders visit the children in the homes of the host families, and are available at all times. When the visiting delegation travels to DC, our leader will host the visiting leader for the length of the Interchange.
All CISV leaders undergo a thorough training process, starting at the local Chapter level and continuing through a mandatory CISV-USA regional training seminar. The responsibility of the leaders is not taken lightly by CISV. Parents can have confidence that their children's leaders are highly competent and fully trained.
Can we contact our child during the Interchange? What about international phone calls?
Most children will have access to Internet while they are in another country, and are able to update you on their activities. Leaders will also send occasional emails to the DC families while they are away. International calling cards can be purchased for your child to take with them. We discourage excessive communication with friends and family, so that the child will focus on his experience, and not on the activities of home.
How are travel plans arranged?
The Chapter selects a single travel agency to coordinate all travel plans. The agency will understand CISV requirements, rules and regulations regarding safety and direct travel to and from the Interchange host country. We are assured that we benefit from negotiations for the best available airfare for which we qualify.