Beaverbrook Vimy Prize Blog – August 9, 2016

From this point forward, we’ll be sharing posts from our students as they begin to reflect on the experiences they have through the Beaverbrook Vimy Prize program:

To me, one of the best parts of visiting a new country is the new perspectives and new insights that I am able to gain from others, and that I am able to share with others.

We have just finished the second day of our European adventure, but it is fair to say that each of us has already gained a ton of new perspectives and insights. For me, the highlight of the day was the visit to the First World War exhibition at the Imperial War Museum. The exhibition was a unique learning experience, because it presented the First World War from a British point of view. While in Canada, I have only learnt about wars from a Canadian perspective. Even though Canada was still part of the British Empire during the First World War, Britain was much closer to the frontlines, and thus her people had a more direct experience of the war compared with Canadians. It was refreshing to compare and contrast the British involvement in World War One with the Canadian experience. For example, in both countries, women became a significant part of the workforce during the war; however, Britain was much more united throughout the war, and did not experience a conscription crisis that would divide up the nation. I was also intrigued by the involvement of other nations in the British Empire, such as India, which sent more than one million volunteers, a figure that took me by surprise. I would likely not have been able to gain these insights from a Canadian textbook or a Canadian history class. That is the beauty of visiting a museum in a different nation.

In the evening, I had a chance to share new insights with my friends as well. The BVP group was divided into 4 mini-groups, with each being given a critical thinking question and being asked to conduct a presentation on their answers. The question that my group received was regarding the unethical actions during the two world wars. In the presentation, I talked about the Nanjing (aka Nanking) Massacre and the heroic actions of the German John Rabe, who used his influence to save thousands of Chinese civilians.  Not everyone in the group knew about what happened in Nanjing, and far fewer knew about John Rabe, an honourable soul who stood on the ethical side despite being a member of the Nazi Party. It aroused thinking of how people can retain or lose their morals in a hostile environment, and the importance for us, the youth of the 21st century, to gain knowledge of and remember these events in history.

Needless to say, I am already in love with the BVP trip, because of the new perspectives and insights on history not just from the sights we visit, but also from each other. I can’t wait for the journey ahead with this amazing group that I’m so fortunate to be a part of.

– Andrew Yin, Richmond Hill, ON


So far this trip has been absolutely phenomenal!  We have seen famous landmarks and impressive decadent buildings at every corner. Today we had many meaningful conversations and experiences, such as visiting war memorials and museums that portray the subject matter in a light that I’ve never seen before. One thing people hear about when researching travel experiences is the description of the world that we read about becoming real. That description couldn’t be more accurate!

It has been amazing to get to know my fellow scholars and facilitators, I got to hear some of their insights and opinions today and have been very impressed. I’m looking forward to spending the rest of the trip with these people and getting to know them more.

It has already been a life-changing experience and we’re not even halfway through. I cannot wait to hear the rest of the presentations from the BVP scholars, and to see what else is coming on the horizon.

– Merren Russell, Halifax, NS


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