Beaverbrook Vimy Prize Blog – August 07, 2015

So here it is, the day we have all been anxiously awaiting for months: departure day for the 2015 Beaverbrook Vimy Prize! In a matter of hours, 14 students from across Canada will begin their individual journeys to Toronto, where they will meet each other, two of our other chaperones – Mike and Gavin – and me for the overnight flight across the pond. At the same time, our French and British representatives will be making their way to Harrow School in London, where they will be met by our UK BVP Coordinator, Gabriela.

I wonder if the participants have thought about the fact that a century ago, thousands of youth were making the same trip this group is today, but for a much more grim purpose? Or if it has really registered yet that we are embarking on this voyage because the youth of a century ago fought to ensure we could have the freedom to do so? If it hasn’t yet, it will by the end of our two weeks together …

Since they were selected in April, this group of incredible youth have been getting to know each other through social media so they won’t be total strangers when they meet up, but the excitement of meeting in person is pretty intense! (I know this from the last-minute texts and e-mails I’ve been getting, all of which contain the phrase, “I’m so excited” followed by at least five exclamation marks). How different this is from 1914, when the young people going to these same places went with a naive excitement that turned to despair in the face of the horrible conditions and situations they encountered. How lucky we are to be going today and not back then … we have so much to be thankful for, which is something this group is going to undertand in a matter of a few days. They will come back from this trip completely changed, and they will begin to shape their respective communities and countries in new ways because of it.

This will be my fifth year working with the BVP scholars, and I am looking as forward to the experience this year as I have been every other year. I know what the next two weeks are going to bring for these young people, and I can’t wait to see how this group melds and evolves as the program unfolds. Each group we take is different, and I have loved each group for different reasons, but what all of these groups have in common is their shared interest in learning about the past and how it shaped our society, and a commitment to never let the stories of those who fought to shape our society for the better be forgotten. It has been an honour and a privilege working with such mature, compassionate, dedicated young people, and having seen this group interact so far, I know we’re in for yet another stellar experience this year!

In previous years I have tried to type in journal entries from the participants each night (or at least a couple of times on the trip) but I am getting too old to stay up as late as that requires me to, so this year the participants will be sharing their thoughts right in the blog, alternating days. I am thrilled by this as I think it will let everyone get a better sense of what this is all about from the perspective of the ones that really matter: the participants themselves! The other chaperones and I will also be taking turns adding our thoughts on the day; I think the varied perspectives will really showcase not only this program but the exceptional young people our respective countries can be proud of.

Until tomorrow (from a different time zone and continent!),

Loralea Wark,

Education Coordinator, The Vimy Foundation деньги в долг