UNIFIL peacekeepers promote peace through cross-cultural exchanges
At the heart of UNIFIL’s mission lies the promotion of sustainable peace and stability in south Lebanon.
Besides their regular operational activities in coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), the local authorities and the people, UNIFIL peacekeepers – from 43 countries – often carry out cross-cultural activities seeking to promote diversity and mutual understanding, and to secure a peaceful future.
One of them has been live exchanges and experience sharing between young students of south Lebanon and faraway countries.
One of such events happened this week with the participation of UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col, who saw some 200 Lebanese students of St. Joseph School in Ein Ebel, a generation that hasn’t seen a war, interacting with as many children in Pesaro, Italy.
“By speaking together as friends, and by getting to know and respect each other, you are also working to preserve peace, much like we do at UNIFIL,” he told the youngsters from the two continents separated by the Mediterranean Sea who had recently exchanged their drawings on peace. “Your drawings, full of colours and hope, are in fact the best way of showing us all what peace means for you.”
Highlighting the dividends of the last 13 years of peace in south Lebanon, the UNIFIL head said the effects of enduring and long-lasting peace are clear: “we have shops, economic activities and tourists coming to visit your beautiful country and to enjoy your great hospitality.”
The children in Italy were connected via Skype.
UNIFIL’s Chinese peacekeepers organized a similar event last month by connecting through video links young students in Tyre (south Lebanon) and in Huizhou City (China). The students of Lycée Français International Elite School in Tyre sang national songs and performed traditional ballads, while the Chinese students 7,600 kilometres away performed martial arts, sang national songs and organized calligraphy exhibition.
Deputy Commander of UNIFIL’s Chinese Construction Engineering Unit, Major Sang Yangyang, said the central objective of the cross-cultural event was to promote peace.
“At the same time, we should make good use of this opportunity to be a good Chinese cultural envoy,” he said. “Friendship and cultural exchanges between the two countries can be extended and inherited to children.”
The Headmaster of Elite School, Jean-Claude Sarriaux, said the exposure to various cultures and languages promotes openness to the wider world.
“Chinese culture and language are something of paramount importance,” he said. “These courses bring a lot to our institution and we are happy to work for peace and cultural diversity in the world through the relationship we have fostered together.”
At the request of Elite School, UNIFIL’s Chinese peacekeepers have been teaching Chinese language to the students since November last year. During the cross-cultural event last month, one of the students, Isabella, also recited a Chinese poem.