I had the great opportunity to participate in the 9th edition of the Luxembourg Peace Prize by the World Peace Forum held in Luxembourg between 2-3 of October. The trip was on a far larger scale, full of wonderful travels and thrills, but the two days of the Luxembourg Peace Prize were it themselves something wonderful on so many levels.
Let me start from the beginning, I won’t go into detail about the winners and their achievements, you can find more about that here, I just want to show this event from my own perspective.
The first day of the event took place in the European Parliament, in the Robert Schuman Building. I’m not sure if you have ever been in this type of official building, but it’s quite impressive, not just because of the going through security moment, but the realisation that you are in a place where actual and meaningful decisions take place. And you can top that while being part in an event that not just connects peacemakers, but gives you, gave me the opportunity to see and hear some very impressive individuals. These where people passionate not just about peace, but about everything related to it, about life, war zones, about our resources, health, disease, about major things that impact our lives every day, about things that most of us don’t even think about, because their just too big. Or so we think.
Even though it was just an award ceremony, it had enough substance to impress this poor soul writing these words. Hearing people talk with such persistence and conviction about things that usually just pass by through your day changes your perspective on a lot of things. Hearing first hand accounts of things you read online or see on TV impresses on a whole different level. But more on this later on.
Being in Luxembourg, in the European Parliament is maybe a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I’m very glad I had that opportunity, even more glad because of what came afterwards.
The second day took place in a highschool. Now, don’t think of your highschool, don’t even think of the highschool you see in movies, this one was better, a monument for education, and for a day a monument for peace, or at least a place of gathering for it. Build by Luxembourg (because they have more money – kidding, sort of) on german soil it was in itself an example of cooperation. This day was mostly filled with workshops held by some very interesting people, one of whom I would like to mention in detail, a man called Armeed.
You see Armeed is Syrian. Five words that say so many things. But let me elaborate. Armeed left Syria to find a better life. He fled a war torn country trying to find peace, to find a new life for himself. He left everything he called home and headed to the unknown. The unknown was first called Turkey. Then on a small boat the unknown moved to Greece. From Greece to Macedonia and so on. His story was touching and extremely revealing. You see a lot of stories about Syria, about refugees fleeing, leaving their homes and often their loved ones, but you never hear, one singular, individual, personal story. You never hear about the smugglers, the time spent in jail, about the moving forwards and backwards trying to reach your destination, separating from your family, never giving up, moving forwards, from country to country, until you reach, in this case Germany. You don’t hear the story, you don’t see the person in question, you only get to generalise. Armeed has high hopes for his life, for learning german, for going to school, for working. Many people, german people have helped him. He’s not just a lucky case, he’s a very good example of human resilience and companion.
There were a few more impressive things during this day but I’ll just hold on to one more. Hearing Kai speak. Kai Frithjof Brand-Jacobsen has a very distinctive way of speaking, is argumentative and motivational at the same time, and impossible to resist. You must listen and you must watch as he glides through on the stage. He likes to say he’ll keep it brief, he never does, but I’m not sure anybody wanted it to be brief. Full of facts, very practical and completely in control of the room from the beginning to the end. They say public speaking is our greatest fear. Someone tell Kai. Kidding, of course. Hearing what he had to day, the was he say it, presented a very different picture of what can be accomplished through peace. The closing panel wasn’t just a summary it was an explosion of emotions, facts and fire of motivation to do something. That simple, to do something. To light the candle. Simple.
It was a wonderful experience, these two days, the ones before and the ones after, and I dare say it was if not life-changing at least perspective-changing. If you would like to know more about the Luxembourg pea ce Prize or the World Peace Forum, their activities and goals, check out their website.