Our member Thomas Vaughan-Jones, 19 of Llandyfan recently represented Wales and the UK in the Island of Ireland Peace Park: Youth Symposium held in Belgium.
The Island of Ireland Peace Park in Messines, Belgium recalls the shared sacrifice of those from the island of Ireland from all political and religious traditions who fought and died in World War One. A Peace Pledge, written 25 years ago, is on display in the central circle of the Peace Park.
As the Park marks its 25th anniversary, this year, Tom was one of fifteen young adults who were invited by Youth Bank International, and run by members from Corymeela, to create a new Modern Peace Pledge that reflects their priorities at the event that took place between the 9th and 13th November, 2023.
During his time in Messsines, Tom had the opportunity to meet with other young adults from across the world, from Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Ukraine and other home nations. Together they explored opinions and experiences of conflict, peace, harmony and justice. It was very interesting for Tom to hear the stories and history of others cultures and nations while also sharing his own experiences.
Over the five days Tom contributed to reviewing the Peace Pledge and collaboratively creating a new Modern Peace Pledge which was presented on Saturday 11th November at a formal ceremony at the Island of Ireland Peace Park. Tom also took part in a tour of battlefields and met with Major of Messines.
Tom said “I had a really fun experience that I will never forget. I have made new connections with young people from all around the world, and hope that our important work over these five days will not be forgotten. I’m really thankful for this opportunity, and hope to take part in similar projects like this one in the future”
Sarah Jones, Senior Participation Officer for Carmarthenshire County Council said “This five-day programme empowered and inspired Tom and other young minds to explore conflict and building peace in global and local context. It was a fantastic opportunity and we are grateful to Youth Bank International for making the experience possible.”