Testimony of the laureate of ’’Allons en France" competition 12 [fr]
Gayathri is providing us with feedback following her experience as the representative of Sri Lanka in the "Allons en France" program which gathered more than 100 youth in Paris for ten days, to debate on Human Rights.
This is a dream which came true, not only to go to France but also to get the chance to see these magnificent places a tourist will never see in a normal tour.
I participated to "Allons en France" program which took place in Paris from July 6 to July 16th 2012, as the representative for Sri lanka. This year, the program was based on the theme "Human Rights: new challenges for the 21st century" with the participation of more than 85 countries. The program was well designed, with debates, round tables, and also some entertainment activities to foster friendship between us.
We started the program with the official opening by the French Ambassador for Human Rights, the director of Institut français, the Minister of foreign affairs. Each day focussed on specific themes, including the right to free speech, sexual rights, women rights, political rights and despite the seriousness of these topics, I had fun during these ten days. The strong coffee, the best croissants, the metro, having a look at french newspapers, the parisian cold, the baguettes, and the discussions with many frends were of course also of interest!
This program enabled us to exchange opinions while respecting each other, and taught us the importance of listening one another. The best moment for me was to participate to the french national Day on 14th of July, for which the Ministry of foreign affairs had invited us in the official tribune. I know I was very fortunate for this.
I also met with Stéphane Hessel, ex diplomat, writer, ambassador, and survivor of concentration camps, who shared his expériences as a Human Right Activist. He underlined the importance to respect the rights of others while using ours. It was very inspiring! We also went to the European parliament in Strasbourg, which is another unique institution! There, we participated to the discussions on Human rights.
I came back with my head full of memories and unforgettable stories ! From this trip, I learnt more about tolerance, the importance of cultural diversity and of being independent and strong, since it was also my first trip abroad alone.