They were invited to come together, via video conference, with teachers of English from secondary schools located in Western France (eg: Lille) to consider how they might collaborate to commemorate one hundred year since World War One.
This was the start of what became known as the Shared Histories Programme, a project designed to raise awareness about the contribution of the New Zealand Division who fought on the western front during WW1 among young New Zealand and French people.
Over the last four years, the programme has provided a vehicle for young people to discover the profound significance and impact of the sacrifices made by participating countries and territories, through interacting and exchanging in an authentic context. It has also been a platform for them to interact and exchange in an authentic context.
So what impact has this purposeful programme delivered to those involved?
27 projects seeking to understand the significance of World War 1 for their country and community.
54 schools creating lasting relationships between France and New Zealand. (ex: Chauny)
75 school teachers supporting the development of deep and valuable inquiries.
1 080 students involved in research and engaging in genuine social interaction.
40 towns and cities in France, New Zealand, New Caledonia and Australia connected.
1 Label Mission Centenaire obtained.
27 Young Ambassadors from New Zealand connecting language learning with other learning areas.
10 Young Ambassadors from France developing personal ways of responding to linguistic and cultural differences.
4 Young Ambassadors from the Pacifika Region finding a personal context or connection with World War 1.
41 Young Ambassadors transformed though being active in the Duty of Remembrance, all creating their own special way to commemorate the sacrifices made for them.
91 the most blogposts produced by one single project.
290 blogs published by project leaders, communicating about their projects using a range of media.
236 blogs published by the Young Ambassadors who developed personal ways of responding to linguistic and cultural differences.
43 community blogs spreading the word far and wide!
25 videos created as unique content
50 visits to Le Quesnoy from 2014 to 2018 as part of the Shared Histories project.
98 visits to Great War memorial Wellington NZ.
25+ articles published by local press both in France and New Zealand.
165 true followers on twitter @shared-hist
325 engaged organic followers on Facebook
500+ photos of unforgettable moments captured.
1 196 participants using their language skills, practising and learning from each other.
This collaboration, designed to explore ways to be actively involved in the Duty of Remembrance as achieved what it set out to do: beyond building a digital time capsule which stores precious memories and experiences, Shared Histories has delivered a transformational experience for all involved, which will live beyond the closing of the Commemoration Period on 11 November 2018.
Thank you to everyone involved.
Shared Histories has been the object of the attention of partners and collaborators who have communicated widely about it. As well as the links referenced already above in the Impact section, here is a selection of the coverage it has received:
Manatū Taonga / Ministry of Cultural Heritage
New Zealand - France Friendship Fund
Event at the National Library of New Zealand
Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu
Alliance Française de Wellington
Association of French Teachers in Victoria (Australia)
Lyçée Carnot Dijon