written by: Vica Bedő (AFS FRA/HUN), Content Preparatory team member of the event
From 31 October to 6 November, 300 students from 46 countries gathered in Strasbourg, France for the „From Trenches to Bridges – Alsace Youth Forum 2015”, organised by AFS France, AFS Germany, AFS Switzerland and the Agence d’Attractivité de l’Alsace.
The purpose of the study visits, workshops and presentations was to make the participants reflect on the events of World War I,learn about living together in peace and intercultural learning, to get inspired and create their own initiatives in active citizenship.
Right at the arrival weekend, the participants crossed the river between France and Germany, as the symbol os living nowadays in peace where there was a terrible war once.
As part of the non-formal educational methodology used during the event, the students visited a battlefield of WWI, the Hartmannswillerkopf and met George King III and Jeffrey Kingler with their AFS Ambulance and heard presentations about the war and about Richard Hall, who was the first AFS driver who died on the battlefield in Alsace. A smaller group also had the chance to visit the military cemetery where he is buried in Moosch, France and could participate in the memorial ceremony.
The students also participated in several workshops that lead them through the topics and helped them to reflect on the memorial events and the presentations in the Council of Europe. The event wouldn’t have been so smoothly organised without the great work of the 60 volunteers, who came from 10 countries to take part in it.
One of the most inspirational moments was the speech of Shabana Basij-Rasikh, an active citizen of Afganistan, who encouraged the students to get engaged in changing the world by changing their own and others’ realities.
Inspired by the different programs, workshops and presentations, the participating students put together a Peace Charter which was handed over on the last day at the European Parliament to representatives of official bodies.
You can read the Peace Charter here.
Find the video version of the Peace Charter here.
And a video of the event here.
Get to know Shabana Basij-Rasikh.