Culture Activities: Forget Gender, Remember Humanity

We were 22 delegates and 5 staff from 10 different countries: Brazil (living in Canada), China (living in Australia), Colombia, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, Germany, Norway, Sweden, and United States. That normally means 10 cultural activities, but Norway and Sweden combined their countries (since “they are similar”) so we had nine.

It was an educational whirlwind! The IPP theme was ‘Spaces of Expression’, so in keeping with that we discussed censorship, street art, political campaigns, urban renewal, public parks, songwriting, language and visual histories within our local contexts. We learned about nature paintings in Finland, political cartoons and mermaids in Denmark, social issue posters in New York, a recycled airport turned into public space in Berlin, a library and tram in Medellin, totems in Canada, political manifestos in Norway, and of course revolutionary graffiti and educational censorship in Egypt.

Participants creat a totem pole in the Canadian culture activity

Participants creat a totem pole in the Canadian culture activity

Since the philosophy of CISV is one of experiential learning, each cultural activity consisted of a creative hands-on project in addition to the group discussions. This was a really fun way to learn about the topic, and sometimes difficult. For the U.S. cultural activity, I presented slides of social issue posters that were focused on the United States, many of them simple, bold and outright funny. These posters are way to subvert advertizing or turn it around on itself. One U.S. artist secretly creates them overtop of the original billboard ads. I then asked the delegates to work in groups, discuss the issues that were of particular interest to them, and to select one to make into a large poster using magazines as collage materials. A few delegates told me afterwards that it was hard for them. I was impressed with the seriousness of the groups’ work and the final outcome. Here are some of the bold statements they created:

“Mom, can I have a hug?”  “Sure, honey, I’ll add that to the shopping list.”

Forget Gender, Remember Humanity

Think Before ….


The activities varied in approach, as well as topics. With some focused on discussion of contrevertial issues, some recreating replicas of home projects while others used the group’s creativity to create a joint art work. These ten activities were an integral part of the IPP, as they allowed participants to not only explore ‘Spaces of Expression’ through the Alexandrian reality, but through 10 other ones as well.

By Julie Harrison, USA



History of IPP, here and there

We thought you might be interested to read about the International People’s Project Programme, and how it works in other countries. Each IPP is very unique as it is centered around a project, and a different partner organisation, with a theme relevant to the local context.

IPP started in 1997, as an experimental project from the youth section of CISV, which we call Junior Branch. After hosting a successful IPP in Germany, and learning, a task force was in place to host more IPPs and with volunteer efforts, this idea developed into a programme, officially adopted and recognised by CISV International in 2008.

You can read more about IPP by visiting the international IPP Committee’s website, and facebook page.  A very interesting read also, is the IPP Book, a document put together where the people who took part in IPPs tell their stories themselves. Download your copy here.


Participants of IPP Farafra III run a recycling workshop for children

IPP in Egypt started in 2006, even though some people had gone to IPPs abroad before then. That year saw the begining of the Farafra Oasis IPP, which brought together the participants first to build things with the local community, work with the local women and plan informal educational activities with the school children. From then, the IPP continued with local members of CISV Egypt keeping in touch with the local community in Farafra, and in 2008 another IPP was hosted in Farafra which focused on spreading the spirit of volunteerism in the community. Finally, in 2010, CISV Egypt hosted its final IPP in Farafra which focused on giving the opportunity to the local NGO that was put together by the community during IPP 2, to organise the activities the volunteers were working on in the IPP themselves, along with volunteer recruitment and publicity, so they can effectively do similar restoration and developmental projects long after CISV was gone. Perhaps, what is not easy to convey in this blogpost was the deep human relationships that were formed between the beautiful Farafronis, and members of CISV.

International volunteers of IPP Farafra I work on restoring Qasr El Farafra alongside local volunteers

A weekend of staff training, inspiring thoughts

IPP Alexandria staff during our training with Nic Hargreaves

We’ve just finished our IPP Staff training. Nic Hargreaves from Great Britain, who is Chair of the IPP Committee flew in for the weekend and we spent a couple of days together learning new things and challenging each other on what the project actually is for each of us and us as a group.

During the training we went through the risks, and did some risk management, in addition to learning how to fill the Programme Director Planning and Evaluation form, to help us better understand if our goals are being achieved. More interestingly we had sessions to plan the schedule in detail, assign staff specific roles and responsibilities and most importantly we came up with a contemporary, interpretive dance meant to symbolize our project, which we will share with you soon.

All in all, we’d say it was a successful weekend, and it got us very excited and much more prepared for our participants’ arrival in less than two months now! A big thank you to Nic for all his input and care. We all felt it was very important to have him take us through this process, to look at it from the outside and ask the right questions.

In addition to the training, we gave Nic a bit of Cairo taste where he saw a bit of old Cairo, had a home cooked meal at the President of CISV Egypt’s house, attended a public art event, and saw the Downtown revolution Graffiti.