Quand j’ai commencé mes études de français au début du collège, je ne m’attendais pas à ce que je sois sur les champs Elysées pour le quatorze juillet, cent ans après le commencement de la première guerre mondiale. Mais c’est devenu une réalité pour moi en deux mille quatorze.
The Young Ambassadors Shared Histories Tour defined my 2014. It took me to the backstreets of Paris, the Eiffel tower, a tiny apartment in Montmartre, Caterpillar Valley, Arras, Le Quesnoy and the Menin Gate with people who I will remain friends with and share memories with for life.
Our trip allowed me to see World War One in a new light. It no longer represented a blot on human history despite visiting the cemeteries filled with graves of many soldiers whose identity “is known only to God”. This is as we directly witnessed the legacy’s the war left behind throughout France as we made personal connections to those living amongst the battlefields. This was particularly evident in Le Quesnoy where school students holding flags greeted us and gave us a tour of the town New Zealand soldiers liberated during the war.
This directly ties in to my project exploring how the ways in which we commemorate and remember the war are directly connected to the social conditions of our society. This is why the role of technology is so important. 100 years on it has given the opportunity for a new generation to commemorate the war in original and engaging ways. This is seen in Shared Histories. I will always feel connected to the war after being able to physically share in its commemoration after our tour. I hope I have shared this connection with others since my return.
We have strived to do this through school visits over the last few months where I have visited many primary schools and recently Alliance Française. The general interest in our project and the commemoration of the war is extremely encouraging and I hope Shared Histories continues to influence peoples lives whilst commemorating the war and I am looking forward to following it’s progress.
I want to once more thank all those involved in Shared Histories. Pascale and Glenda, thank you for all the hard work you put in to the Shared Histories project. You have provided all of us with moments we will remember forever and thank you to Ruth for being a very entertaining chaperone.
This year I am off to Victoria University in Wellington to study Law and a BA majoring in French. I am excited to move cities and take all the new opportunities this brings.