Freedom to an 11-year-old might be a trip on a city bus alone. But for Keagan Tait and Isaiah Emerson, it’s spending a month in Amsterdam, parent-free.
The two Langford boys are members of Children’s International Summer Villages Canada, a charitable, independent non-political organization.
They head off Wednesday (July 10) to Amsterdam, where they’ll create a global village with 11-year-olds from other countries including China, Portugal and France.
For two weekends out of the month they will live with host families in the city to get a taste of local culture.
Communication with family is not allowed during their stay – computers, iPods and cell phones were left behind – but the boys can send postcards home.
“Taking technology will take away from the experience,” said Isaiah, noting they will spend all their time connecting with the 48 other kids at the village.
With so many children from across the globe, Keagan hopes to “learn a bit of another language.”
“I really want to learn about other cultures,” Isaiah said.
Both boys researched Holland in advance to get an idea what they are in for.
“I am most excited to see the candy shop,” said Isaiah, whose favourite sweet treats at home are caramel squares.
His mom, Julia Emerson, is used to her children travelling abroad. Her 14-year-old daughter, Emma, travelled to Portugal with CISV two years ago and is off to Ecuador this summer.
“The kids become aware that the world is bigger than our community,” Julia said.
Keagan’s mom, Shannon Tait, has been around the program for as long as she can remember.
“When I was six years old, my family hosted girls from Germany and Mexico,” she said. In her teens she went to Bolivia as part of a Rotary exchange program.
Aside from witnessing life on the other side of the world, Shannon said the boys will learn other skills will learn. “This whole process teaches leadership. It’s pretty much a kid-driven organization.”
The boys meet once a month for meeting with the Victoria chapter of CISV Canada.