Council of International Fellowship in Deutschland e.V.


The Founder

The Cleveland International Program (CIP) was founded by Dr. Henry B. Ollendorff. Dr. Ollendorff was born in Esslingen, Germany in 1907 as Heinz Bernhard Ollendorff. And it was also in Esslingen that he later worked as a labor (AE) lawyer. However, under the German National Socialist regime, he was barred from his profession and was temporarily arrested. In 1938, he emigrated to the United States where his wife joined him in 1939. Both took on the American citizenship. Because Henry B. Ollendorff could no longer practise his profession as a lawyer in the USA, he decided to complete a second course of studies, this time in Social Work. Upon graduation, Dr. Ollendorff worked with socially disadvantaged children in Cleveland, Ohio.

On the basis of his personal experience, he was recruited by the US "Reeducation" program to create an international education program for social worker group leaders in Germany. In this program, his goals were not only to create an atmosphere of international understanding and provide a forum for the international exchange of experiences. Dr. Ollendorff also placed special emphasis on implementing modern methods of group work.

My life was spared. I would like to devote the rest of my life to ensuring that nothing like the holocaust ever happens again. People, especially the young, must learn at an early age to respect religious and ethnic differences, and learn how to get along with each other and peacefully coexist." (Henry B. Ollendorff based on the recollections of his wife Martha).

After Henry's death in 1979, Martha continued to be involved in the CIP program and attended the international conferences of the CIF (see below). She died in 2011 at the age of 102.


Council of International Program (CIP)

Henry B. Ollendorff began implementing his concept as early as 1956 by inviting 25 German voluntary youth leaders and professional social workers to Cleveland, Ohio (Cleveland International Program). There they worked together with their professional American colleagues while staying with host families. This new program was soon extended to other countries as well, including Eastern European countries, and was then renamed the Council of International Programs. However, the program also still exists today under the name of CIPUSA.

Although the program has changed since its inception, the following elements have remained essential up to the present day: staying with host families, on-site international professional job experience, and familiarization with diverse societies and social systems. This special form of exchange was created to foster intercultural experience and expand personal mind-sets in keeping with Dr. Ollendorff's maxim: "It's not right, it's not wrong, it' s different ".

Council of International Fellowship (CIF)

Soon after the program's inception in the USA, the youth leaders and social workers who returned to their countries of origin expressed the desire to create an alumni association in order to share basic professional and personal experiences, maintain and foster existing contacts, establish professional networks, and enable further professional colleagues to participate in similar international programs.

The Cleveland International Fellowship (founded in 1960 and later renamed the Council of International Fellowship) has been a registered association in Germany since 1964. In the 1970s, other national branches which were based on the principles of the CIF were founded in many other countries. The CIF-International holds international biennial conferences on social welfare and environmental topics: 2013 in Turkey, 2015 in Sweden, 2017 in Greece, 2019 in France. Some national branches also offer their own Professional Exchange Programs.