The 4th stage of the Erasmus project ”Peace is Possible” has been completed. The last meeting of the participants of the project happened in France from 27th March to 1st April. Our gymnasium was represented by the 10th formers Eva Kostireva, Niks Habarovs, Ksenija Koleda, Elina Adamenko, Anna Karamiševa, Daniels El Žuni.
France welcomed our delegation kindly and warmly. The weather was nice and the reception was friendly. Host families met our students with great cordiality and hospitality. Jeremi Vedi, one of French students, surprised us particularly and made us really happy when he appeared with the national flag of Latvia at the first meeting. And we were absolutely glad to see those French teachers and students who we had hosted a year earlier in Riga.
The place where all the partners of the project met was Lycee Jean Monnet which was situated in a small town La Queue-lez-Yvelines not far from Paris. The lyceum is named after Jean Monnet who was a famous French statesman. He is called the ”father of Europe” and considered to be one of the founders of the European Union. More information about the lyceum can be found on the website http://www.lyc-monnet-lqly.ac-versailles.fr/spip.php?article14.
This visit to France was highly important for the project. Since the Great French revolution till nowadays France has been the country where the issues of war and peace have been constantly solved. The French carefully and reverently treat all the historical monuments and history as such. We could make sure of it after visiting several important historical sites.
During one week visit we had a very intense and rich programme. We pursued the same course that we were following in the previous meetings: peace studies and peace making. While studying peace we visited some crucial historical sites.
The first place of great importance we paid a visit to was the Palace of Versailles . A splendid residence of French monarchs has been a place where several conflicts happened in Europe in the past were tried to be de-escalated and solved. It is necessary to add that the place turned out to be “unlucky” as in 1919, after the World War I, the peace Treaty of Versailles was signed there . As we know, exactly the Treaty of Versailles came to be the reason for triggering the World War II.
Having returned from the Palace of Versailles all the participants of the project took part in the workshop. The aim of the workshop was to “rewrite” the Treaty of Versailles so that to prevent the war. Our students were working in international groups as always.
The next day was devoted to visiting the Caen Memorial in Normandy which is a museum and war memorial commemorating World War II and the Battle for Caen. It illuminates planetary problems of war and peace. At the entrance to the Memorial we were welcomed by the symbol of peace – a gun with a twisted barrel tied in a knot. Inside the Memorial we got acquainted with the expositions dedicated to sorrowful events of the WWII and the Cold War.
One more place that produced a really strong impression on us was Omaha Beach, the coastline of Normandy, where the second front was opened by American troops landed there in 1944. There is an American Cemetery and Memorial to the soldiers who died during the battle for Normandy. The cemetery leaves an imperishable print: on a huge green field there are thousands of white crosses, each meaning one life sacrificed in order to liberate Europe from Nazism.
We also visited Paris where our peace makers were offered to go on an interactive excursion. The students had to learn the history of several buildings. It was astonishing! It emerged that an outwardly usual and respectable hotel had a very unusual history. Namely, during the WWII German General Staff headquartered there and an attempt on Hitler’s life was being planned inside.
Reaching the peacemaking aim, the participants of the project ran a special campaign in the centre of Paris just in front of the Eiffel Tower. It was a flash mob created and arranged by all the students of the Peace is Possible project. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVzVJXqPPmM
Preparation for the flash mob was very thorough. The participants created and learned a dance which was afterwards performed on the square in front of the Eiffel Tower. The project team also designed special postcards promoting the idea of peace. And the students were distributing them among the passers-by just after the dance. The concept of the flash mob was to send the idea of Peace. The reaction of spectators, who were just ordinary people passing by the square, was positive. We were also happy and satisfied by the results of the campaign.
As the visit to France turned out to be the last meeting of the participants of the project, it is necessary to tell about the outcomes. The movie is the first one. In the course of the whole project our peacemakers were shooting shortcut videos that were brought together into one common film at its last stage. That’s how the film about peace has been made, the peace we are all searching for. The film is very peculiar by the very fact that one hundred youngsters from five European countries were encouraged by one common idea and worked together. The film is coming soon and you will be able to see it.
The second essential product of the project was to develop and approve the learning methodological materials for lessons and out of class activities. These materials resulted from our close and fruitful cooperation between teachers. All the materials will be placed on the specially launched website to be accessed by all interested.
We dare say that the most important result of the project is as follows: within two years young people from five countries were discovering European space. They were communicating, visiting each other, learning from each other and helping each other. They were creating and experimenting, plunging into new roles thus coping with their fears and stereotypes. Moreover, they got convinced that in spite of present differences the Europeans share common unshakable values wherein peace is in the foreground.
Maria Konovalova, Ilona Teleznikova