Changemaker: Andreas Wiese
The objective of Model ASEM was to foster interaction between youths from Asia and Europe and to enhance intercultural exchange between the two continents by these means. Equally important, Model ASEM aimed to raise awareness of the problems and challenges of our time which impact both continents and which, if not dealt with adequately, would massively impact our future. For this purpose, we brought together 58 youths from the whole of Asia and Europe in the French city of Le Havre from 10 to 14 November 2009.
On Tuesday, November 10th, we officially inaugurated Model ASEM in Paris. After visits to the French National Assembly and the castle of Louis XIV in nearby Versailles, the participants were welcomed by the Paris office of the British Council for a dinner reception in the evening. The next day, we moved to Le Havre. On that day, the discussion of the most pressing issues which impact Europe and Asia at the present point was on the programme. Participants first gathered in a general session and split into smaller working groups later. In the evening, we organised an intercultural night so as to foster intercultural exchange in a more informal manner. During the next days, these workshop sessions continued and participants also talked about how these issues affected their own lives while drafting solutions for a potential contribution to their mitigation. For the cultural programme on those days, we went to Fécamp, a place on the cliffs which borders the English Channel, enjoyed a dinner reception at the Palais Bénédictine in this town and had a guided tour of the port of Le Havre, one of the biggest harbours in Europe. On the last day, we went to Rouen which is a historically very significant place. On Sunday, November 15th, participants departed from France.
This CAP built bridges between the youths from Europe and Asia by creating a better understanding and lasting friendship. Furthermore, inspired by the discussions in Le Havre, some participants successfully realised grass-root level projects back in their home countries, such as class partnerships and letter exchanges between European and Asian schools.
This CAP would not have become a reality without the help of our sponsors. Therefore, we would like to thank the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Union, the City Hall of Le Havre, the Asia-Europe Foundation, the French bank BNP Parisbas, Vietnamese Airlines and the Port of Le Havre, not to forget, the British Council and its Global Changemakers programme for their generous support.
Finally, some words from the participants as a testimony:“I loved the informality because it really gave everyone a chance to relax and be creative.”; “I really enjoyed Model ASEM. The discussions were pretty interesting and after some days I did not flush any longer and got used to speaking in front of the group.”; “This was one of the best weeks in my life.”; “I expected invigorating discussions, a better understanding of the difficulties of reaching an agreement, learning about other cultures, little sleep and a thought-through intercultural programme. Model ASEM exceeded these expectations.