January 2011 Archives

Best of 2010.

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Following a tradition I started last year I went back through all articles of 2010 and tried to select those that were either most-read, most-viewed, most commented on or just my personal favourites. If you don't come here regularly, this is maybe a good place to get an impression what this website is all about. (Or, you could view this as the narcissistic part of my personality...)

 - I created a Facebook application with basic functionality of the CISV friends website in February 2010. To this day more than 2700 programme participations were registred. Unfortunately a) I don't have much time to extend the features b) Facebook itself removed the glorious tab feature and c) so far there's no official interest to develop this further, so it will have to remain an experiment with limited functionality.
- An obituary to the Peace Education Circle.
- What defines a Hockey Player?
- How about hiring a Central Information Officer - a post that received some great comments whether CISV has data it should be using for its benefit. Another post followed up with the topic with a video showing a TED talk featuring Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web.
- Cheap, short, national: Is Germany's KiD-camp a model for other NAs? 24 comments set the record for 2010.
- Discussing a work model right in the middle between volunteers and paid staff, I tried to coin a new term: Paylunteering. (I got a complaint from Sarah/USA here, because when I posted it, she was just in the process of drafting a similar story for the IJB letter...)
- After an enlighting visit to Lissabon I dedicated two articles to the success story of once tiny CISV Portugal. Luisa, the Portugese trustee, then told me at AIM, that she received a lot of compliments for their work during AIM by those who read the article. Nice!
- A little less enthusiastic is my complaint about people who unexpectately quit theit volunteer jobs in CISV.
- Just before AIM, I thought we need to talk about sex.
- Two articles tacle CISV's impact on the environment: One about the motion to create a new taskforce, and one that reviewed a great issue of IJB Thinks, about CISV and Carbon.
- My take on CISVs tagline (and the motion suggesting a new one) got mixed reviews (i.e. comments)
- Trying to be objective even though my good friend Lene had lost the run for president, I analyzed the IEC elections.
- After my experience at AIM I claimed that CISV had lost its orientation and got stuck in Limbo.
- Officers vs. Chairs is still a very much up-to-date look at the conflict between paid staff and volunteers that run the organisation.
- A rant about the fact that we still talk about "race" in CISV.
- Instant Creativity got 8 "Likes" on facebook, just like the silly picture of Martha I posted (should I be worried?): The record in 2010. And while I'm at it: South Africa received more comments on facebook than any other post there (and more than on the website itself).
- A comparison between GAP's and CISV's logo redesign got Luca/ITA started - I don't think anybody ever contributed so much in the comment section.
- In an interview, Moni/CRC, the former chair of the leadership training committee shares her interesting views on creating a "department" in CISV.
- Many people contributed to my suggested list of tasks for a new educational officer.

In the end it's hard to judge, what you people enjoy reading, because most of the time it just happens without any feedback. There's been a whole bunch of artciels that I wrote after quite some time reseraching and fiddling with the words, and of which I thought they were meaningful. But no comment, no like, no e-mail nothing. As an optimist, I still think people enjoyed them and they will reveberate throughout our organisation some way or another - but maybe, it's just me who liked the topic and everybody else thinks I'm insane or worse: boring. I guess I'll never find out.

A few facts from the website's statistics in 2010: FTB gets an average of around 700 visitors a month, with a peak during - you guessed it - AIM: 1200 crazy people in August alone. Most readers live in Germany (AIM host!), USA and the UK. The most popular article is one from 2009 (CISV logo variations) - which strangely peaked in August as well - followed by Organic Food (also 2009) and Sex in CISV (which is probably a result of search-engine driven visitors - I hope.) The site that refers the most visitors besides google, facebook and such is Kaisa's nice little blog called CISV Suomi, which unfortunately is only in Finish. Windows and Mac users  break even and surprisingly 117 people tried to read the blog on their tiny iPhone-screen in 2010. A little depressing is the fact that more than 70% spend less than 10 seconds on the website. Bah! Enough numbers to apply the label statisic nerd to this post...

Thanks again to those who contribute in the comment sections and those that sent suggestions. You make this website come to live and add a great deal of content. Please don't hesitate to comment even on posts that are older - it doesn't go un-noticed. And remember: Your comment is my crack!

Finally, a reminder that you can follow all posts either through an RSS-Reader, by e-mail, on Twitter or on Facebook. If you don't want to miss a comment, subscribe to the comment feed.

Building facebook friendship.

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Social Networking extends out impact.

From a recent Canadian newspaper article on a delegation's camp experience:

"Half of the camp is already on my Facebook," Troy noted. "I hit it off with kids from places such as Norway, Brazil, Mexico, the U.S.A., Hong Kong, Germany, Hungary, Belgium and more."

"With social networking, some of these kids will now be friends for life," Mr. McKillop said.

Of course kids in the 60s would engage in snail-mail communication after camp, some even for life, so the concept is nothing new. But social networking does have potential of extending CISVs outreach in a much more intense way. Love it or hate it, facebook does intensifies our anticipated "global friendship". 

Personally, I have a whole bunch of people, I connected well with during camps or meetings among my facebook friends - and even if I don't communicate with them directly, the fact that they sit there, read my updates once in a while does mean much more than having their e-mail addresses in my account. It may be different from a real friendship, but it is something. 
And if you remember the "I have a friend in Costa Rica" (or was it Guatemala) t-shirt? Social network websites add a little more reality to that concept. 

Oh, and if you can't read it between the lines, I do like our current tagline.

Bye, Kiran.

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Our Educational Officer leaves IO after 4+ years.

kiranaim2010.pngWhen I began working on CISV international's level, CISV had just published a new document on its educational content called Section T, neatly dubbed as "Sex'n'Tea". It was the masterpiece of Delia/CRC, who was the chair of the educational development and research committee (EDR) of the time. Section T was heavily criticized for being too complicated, so there was always the intention of developing a simplified version, which I can't recall ever having been finished. Delia herself had a huge expertise, good contacts and a lot of influence on the organisation. Besides being the EDR chair she was also the National Secretary of CISV Costa Rica which gave her a wholesome perspective of the organisation. I remember her giving me and the IPP taskforce a hard time being extremely strict when setting objectives end evaluating projects. But in the end, for all the trouble, I believe IPP became a better programme. 

Unfortunately, Delia's successors in the position of EDRC chair lacked expertise and influence, which lead to the committee being criticized, even moved to merge with ILTC, and being a lot less productive. A few years later Gaby and Richard/ISR managed to convince the board of trustees to use those funds to employ an educational officer into IO. Enter Kiran, who, from 2006 on, spent a whole working week on CISVs educational content.

Kiran entered CISV international's scene right after I left, so it's really only a "balcony view" I have on the matter, but that I hope shouldn't jeopardize my judgement, rather the contrary. Basically I see five major projects that I can trail directly back to Kiran, and those are:

1. CISV Educational Areas: Finally an update for the much-dreaded educational circle. 4 themes that rotate being the focus for one year - currently: Diversity.

2. CISV Passport: A beautifully executed simplified explanation of what CISV is all about. Printed in 4 colours for the back-pocket of your camp-pants.

3. Big Ed: Section T reloaded: The complete guide into what CISV is all about. Also nicely layouted, and a must-read.

4. PDPEF: Finally a tool that generates a basic impression of the educational success of a programme. Much hated at first, but a standard quality tool by now.

5. Goals and Indicators: All of CISVs programmes went through the process of redefining their objectives.

Im sure there's more to his legacy than that, but in this article I also want to shed some light on the more difficult sides of hiring an educational officer: As discussed in an earlier post, it's a major step to move content power from the volunteer side to the professional side of the organisation. Kiran may be well educated in the field, but should he decide what's on focus? Shouldn't that be more the subject of people who have been leaders and staff over and over again? Ideally somebody should be doing the job, who is a great listener and collects and refines things that experienced CISVers have to say. From what I've heard, this apparently wasn't one of Kirans's strong areas. Furthermore, being prodcutive by yourself at IO is one thing, but heading a team of volunteers requires sensitive leadership skills. Also here, we've apparently had some issues that may have added to the reasons, why so many volunteers in the newly founded Educational Department left us in the past two years.
Which leads me to the next topic: Kiran's departure came to us as a surprise, but he must have had these plans for a while. Apparently employees are quite as unreliable as volunteers in the area of long-term reliability.

Nevertheless, I strongly believe that 4+ years is a good time span, and Kiran used it well: He lead and finished some extraordinary projects. He connected well with most CISVers and as a newcomer internalized the CISV spirit. He moved the organization forward and left a rich soil for his successor. And even if most people (including me) would have preferred him to stay longer, it may be good timing for somebody new with a different kind of expertise, skills and ideas to take over. (Check out my to-do-list for the next educational officer.)

Thank you, Kiran and good luck in the future. I'm glad also other organizations will profit from you work, and maybe the CISV experience will make you even better at what you do.

(I should also mention that Kiran's football skills are way better than Chuck/USA's - one of the reasons that the right wing in the Europe vs. ROW game 2010 was a leading contributor of Europe's success. )

Internal Webapp?

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A few weeks ago I stumbled over a tweet that linked to the following website:

In there I read the description of an interesting project:

The main use of the WebApp will be to improve the administrative functions of CISV - with a focus on national and local improvements - in order to allow volunteers (and paid administrators) to spend less time doing simple administrative tasks. Ease of use for those not technically minded is of the utmost importance. Some social features will also exist.

It seems as if CISV is trying to set up a new intranet that goes beyond what we currently habe, including CISV friends and resources. Some kind of internal administrative tool, to help chapter or national volunteers organize themselves. From the top of my head, I imagine an intranet, where CISVers can manage their member lists, sign kids up for specific camps, keep track of invoices and payments, send out newsletter to specific groups of people, keep track of the camp material and to-do-lists, etc...

While I do welcome this, I'm a little surprised I haven't heard of this project before? Shouldn't people inside CISV come up with a first brainstorm for such an idea to be circulated and discussed before asking for bids? And if we want to make this investment (which could be very expensive), shouldn't we be looking for IT professionals among our own crowd first before outsourcing it 100% to a company? Why do I find this project on Twitter and not in the IO update? Administrative functions weren't really included in the website overhaul that was approved during AIM, as far as I know. 

I hold no official role in CISV international, so I'm not part of any mailing lists, except IO update - so I might have missed some major development since AIM. Nevertheless, something does smell fishy here. (Oh, and apparently the project was cancelled last week...curious.)

Search: CISV.

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Why our awkward acronym has its benefits.

When I went to elementary school, I had a neighbor who's name was Peter Meier. I have no trouble adding his complete name here, because in no way this would ever jeopardize his privacy. Why? Peter and Meier are both some of the most common names in Germany. There's probably a few 10.000s of them around, so while ego-surfing is quite impossible, he's lucky, because he can virtually not be found on the internet.

Turning that notion the other way around, the fact the hard-to-pronounce, weird, not-to-be-written-in-full acronym name of our organization is quite unique (except in Italy, I'm told). Over and over again in the history of our organisation (last time during the rebranding in 2005) we've been considering changing our name into something that would be easier to memorize, easier to convey. We're not purely Children, we're not only international, where not just Summer and we're surely so much more than Villages. So why CISV? Just out of tradition?

Apart from the fact, that a new name would be terribly difficult to find and agree on, it would have to work in every language, and it has to be made sure, that no other company or organization is already using it. We'd also lose the marketing and awareness we've created in the past 60 years, and would have to run as "The Organization formerly known as CISV" (TOFKAC). Besides all that, I'd like to add another argument in favour of "CISV", and that is, that it perfectly unique* and searchable on the Internet:

Try a Google Search: The first result that doesn't link to us is on page 7: http://www.spss.com/vertical_markets/government/cisv.htm

Try a Twitter Search: Virtually no results that don't relate to our organization.

In the world of communication and modern media, searchability and search engine optimization (SEO), we're enjoying a competetive advantage. It should stay that way.

Facebook Best Practise.

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This website has a neat list of 32 tips on how to improve the use of facebook for non-profits. Something for the many NAs, chapters and committees that run pages at facebook...

Related: Tarek Shalabi's articles (1,2) on using Facebook for a Social Media Campaign.

EVS volunteers.

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A great opportunity for CISV NAs in Europe.

I've meantioned it before, but this is such a great story, I should elaborate it even more: The European Voluntary Service pays volunteers to go abroad and work with a non-profit organisation for a certain time period. Of course at first, humanitarian kind of work come to mind: Work realted to social projects and the such. But hey, CISV is a social organisation as well, and EVS has accepted administrative work inside a national CISV organisation as something they support. A few years ago, CISV Sweden spearheaded this idea, and if I'm not mistaken, Nic/GBR was the first one on the job, working in CISV Sweden national office. 

What's so fantastic about it, is that we can hire somebody of our own organization to do work he enjoys, for a cause he believes in, paired with a "gap-year" or "work-and-travel" tag attached for the resumee. And it's all (ok not all, but mostly) paid for by the EU programme. 

Of course it requires some work: You need to specify the job description, guarantee language courses and such. But in the end, it's a real win-win and a fundraising project, too. So, why don't other CISV NAs in the EU participate?

And since we're talking -  wonder if Norway has found somebody yet?

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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