It has already been three weeks since the Young Ambassadors’ Tour ended - it feels like so long ago that we were living it up in France/Belgium! I have been very busy catching up with school work now that reality has kicked back in, so unfortunately writing this blog post has been put on the back burner. However, I have been able to make a few of the assessments I have been doing for school relevant to my overseas experience, so there has been a lot of time for reflection and reminiscence. For me, there wasn’t a ‘highlight’ of the trip, as it was all such an incredible and enjoyable experience. However, some of my favorite aspects were our visit to Le Quesnoy, the Menin Gate ceremony at Ypres, and seeing all the meticulously detailed architecture in Paris. But what made it especially memorable for me were the people that I shared the experience with. My host family were extremely welcoming, and made my stay with them so fun and comfortable. I shed a couple of tears when the time came to leave them, so I can honestly say that they made me feel as if I was one of their family. I look forward to returning to Arras to visit them again! Also, Glenda and Ruth were a fantastic pair of chaperones that definitely made our tightly-packed schedule an absolute breeze. We got on so easily with them, which made everything so easy and enjoyable. Last, but DEFINITELY not least, the other YAs. I feel as if I have gained a new family, as each and every one of these Young Ambassadors were so special. We are all very different people, but throughout the two weeks together we found so many things that we have in common, meaning we got on like a house on FIRE. I have been feeling very deprived of my other comrades during the couple of weeks that have followed the end of the tour, so now that arrangements have been made for a reunion in September I feel much better!
The most memorable thing I learned from our trip was the importance of remembering WWI and the effects it had. I now have a much deeper understanding of why it is important that we, as future leaders, learn from our past. Below I have included some excerpts from both my English and French writing portfolios, which were both written around this theme:
Even after two hugely consequential world wars, there is still an unspeakable measure of conflict in the world. How can we strive for a better future when the situation in the present is so disheartening? In my opinion, the importance falls directly on learning from the past. The eternalistic flow of time means every moment results from another; the past, present and future are finely interlaced. This means that constructing a more peaceful future will only come from today’s youth making decisions that are consciously different to those made in the past. Therefore, it is essential that we gain knowledge and understanding of the mistakes that past leaders made to cause conflict. We need to be able to make sense of the sacrifices our men made when they enlisted for the war. This is why we must not allow the memories of our Anzacs become impersonal statistics of history. Instead of unconsciously reading facts off the pages of a history book, we must dare to see what our soldiers saw; to feel what they felt.
En Nouvelle Zélande, c’est êxtremement rare de trouver une famille qui n’a pas un ancêtre qui a combattu dans la premiere guerre mondiale. Tout le monde a des histoires familiales de soldats dans leurs familles qu’ils veulent partager avec les autres. Cela crée une fraternité dans notre pays parce qu’on a tous quelque chose en commun. Les commemorations de la Grande Guerre ont donné à la Nouvelle Zélande une raison d’être très fier de nos ancêtres, donc il faut que nous saisissions cette opportunité au vol. Laissez-nous nous unir pour commémorer les sacrifices des Anzacs.
I have returned from the Young Ambassadors’ Tour to France with a much more holistic understanding of the First World War and the consequences that followed, especially on French society. Everything in our itinerary gave me something new to think about and learn from, meaning the entire experience was extremely valuable.
Once again, I would like to thank everyone who financially helped me get to France - namely, the St Hilda’s Star Fund, the West Otago Lions Club, the Heriot Collie Club and the Trustpower Lend a Hand Foundation in association with the Roxburgh Rotary Club. Heaps of gratitude also goes to my Great Uncle and Aunty for hosting me at their home in Gujan-Metras for a week after the YA Tour finished. It was so much fun seeing a different part of France and being able to spend some time with them in their home! Finally, a HUGE shoutout to my family and friends for being so supportive of me and for giving me something to look forward to coming home to. X