Over the years the International School for Peace Studies (I.S.P.S) has worked with a number of schools and the following quotes describe quite simply what the programme has meant to those who have taken part.
Quotes From The Teachers About Their "Messines Experience" And The Effect On Their Pupils
"Clearly the pupils from all three schools had a life changing experience...The relationships the pupils have formed are incredible. I cannot commend this work highly enough. It is the most effective form of Education & Mutual Understanding that I have seen.
The schools Links Programme is an effective catalyst to change attitudes here in Ireland - the sooner you get pupils across there in droves the better!"
(R.J. Magowan, Former Headmaster, Lisneal College)
"Having students from the different traditions and backgrounds mixing in a project such as this is the only way to further the aims of peaceful cooperation. The many and varied opportunities that have opened and will open in the future for all participants cannot be overemphasized. They have all gained an enormous amount, personally and professionally. The experiences gained can only benefit them as human beings, as citizens and as future workers. Their work on this project will, without doubt, benefit their communities and has benefited their current community, Crana Collage to a large extent.
Students are queuing up to avail of the next part of the project!"
(Anne Mc Hugh - Acting Principle, Crana College)
"Cross community visits to the First World War battlefields develop a greater understanding of a shared history and identity. Everyone in Ireland should have the opportunity to visit the Somme & Flanders to appreciate Ireland's sacrifice, and to work for peace and reconciliation."
(Andrew Todd - Teacher, Belfast Boys Model)
"There is no difference between a young person from a Catholic community and that from a Protestant community. There are differences in what they are told and what they learn, what they retain. If they are taught history correctly - with truth and consideration for community backgrounds - then anything is possible in terms of reconciliation. It gives me optimism for the future."
(John Hannah, Teacher, Christian Brothers School)
Quotes From The Pupils About Their "Messines Experience"
" I am very glad I went on this trip as it has opened my eyes and changed my perception of everything"
(Pupils from Oakgrove Integrated College)
"Although at school we learned about the statistics of the war, we didn't appreciate the human side until we actually stood in those killing fields"
"It gave us a chance to make a difference to our society and break down barriers"
"The most humbling experience of my life"
"I feel I understand the conflict from back home and why there is no need and no real reason for it"
(Pupils from Lisneal College)
"A very emotional and awe inspiring experience"
"If only lessons could be like this all the time"
(Pupils from Crana College)
"This trip was a once in a lifetime opportunity"
"I learned things I would never have known if I wasn't given this chance"
"The friends we made here will stay with us for the rest of our lives"
"Because of the programme, for me the poppy is a flower of rememberance, not a symbol of division"
(Pupils from St. Cecilia's College)
"Throughout the trip I felt confusion many times - my own prejudice straining against what my heart was embracing. Sometimes I even felt despair at our failure to move forward. I felt as if an internal struggle was going on inside me, and I'm still only coming to terms with that struggle"
"A lot of my views have changed over the past few days and I think it will stay with me for a very, very, very long time."
(Pupils from St. Mary's College)
"I feel ashamed that we can't live side by side in society and there is constant fighting for no reason!"
"It has been an experience that has changed not only mine, but other people's conceptions of others"
(Pupils from Ashfield Girls High School)
"Everybody is the same it doesn't matter about their or your religion."
"I feel a lot better, confident. I have more knowledge about WW1, and Catholics & Protestants."
(Pupils from Priory Integrated College)
"I am happy that I've made new friends from different religions and traditions."
"Everyone is equal"
(Pupils from Patrician Youth Centre)
"The fact that eveyone back then fought as one, and now we still fight each other makes me mad!"
(Pupil from Newtownabbey Community High School)