GULFPORT (WLOX) -- It's where friendships begin and young leaders blossom, among the youngest is 11 year-old Mark Rose of Pass Christian.
"I want to learn about how other cultures think of Americans, and how we think of them. I want to see if it's all true or if it's just people spreading rumors and things like that," says Rose.
Through the CISV (Children's International Summer Village) program, teens and young adults immerse themselves in month-long international exchange programs. The progam's ultimate goal is to help them build international friendships in hopes of creating a more peaceful world. Raleigh Marmorsteim has been with the program for seven years and traveled to at least five countries.
"You connect with the country. If there's a bombing somewhere, you don't just say oh that's really sad. You say 'oh my gosh, I have to make sure one of my friends is okay,'" says Marmorsteim of Detroit, Michigan.
"All CISV people bring a willingness, a willingness to open up to make friends and to grow as a person, and I think that's what makes the program so effective," says Ben Rusczek of Springfield, Massachusetts.
Besides expanding their view of the world, the program also strives to help teens develop more practical skills. Through a series of activities at this weekend long event, the teens say they are improving their ability to reason and communicate with others.
"I've liked that we got to use a lot of teamwork, and we got to use some social skills. We got to learn about how we meet people in a good way," says Rose.
Whether learning how to become a better thinker or making strides toward becoming a global citizen, these young people say CISV is helping them reach their goals.
There are 23 CISV chapters in the U.S. and 60 across the globe.