The residents of Caux were woken up by a special alarm yesterday morning to mark yet another Swiss Day celebrated during CATS. As per Caux tradition, a marching band crossed the grounds at 6am, entertaining the mostly sleeping residents.
Evidence of Swiss Day could be observed all throughout the castle, with a decorated dining hall, Swiss-flagged chocolate donuts for breakfast and fondue for dinner. The evening was celebrated by a trip up the mountain, where all of the people of Caux could dance to the music and enjoy the fireworks set off from the lake!
This date commemorates the signing of the Federal Charter of 1291. This charter joined the three Alpine cantons as a confederation, which has come to be regarded as the founding of the Switzerland we know today.
We all love stories, stories can change and shape us. We also love good books. Some of us love printed books, some like to read online, and some like to listen to online books. What if I tell you that you can read a “Human Book”? Yes! Real humans telling stories from their hearts, the deepest of their concerns, the struggles they have gone through, what they learnt and what their hopes are for the future. This is our favourite kind of books, here at CATS.
There were around 20 “Human Books” at CATS Human Library today. Each with a unique story related to this year`s theme- Safe Together, Ending Violence against Children. The activity started with Nichole Ruiz and Soleil Doering, sharing their story of advocacy with the Anti- Bullying PEACE Project in Florida, United States of America. Sarah Silins shared her story of working as a lawyer for young people in the United States of America, and how the lack of Child´s Rights Convention in the United States of America has affected young people who end up going to jail after being tried, often in adult courts. Matilda Brookes- Jones, 10 years old, from United Kingdom, shared her story of getting bullied in her school and how she overcame it with the support of her mom.
Participants got to share what they learnt and how they felt about the books they “read”. Peter Stolanov, 8 years old from Bulgaria said that he learnt how to avoid and correct the mistakes that he could be doing in daily life.
Following the Second World War, the once beautiful Grand Hotel was in disrepair, after so many eople had been through it. It was owned by a local bank who was looking to sell it and a, Geneva-born diplomat Philippe Mottu, bid for the building with a small group of Swiss people. They did so with the belief that:
“If Switzerland is spared by war, our task will be to get a place where Europeans, torn apart by hatred, suffering and resentment, will be able to meet each other. Caux is the place.”
It would take 95 individual Swiss donors to be able to reach the 450,000 Francs amount requested as first down payment on 1 July 1946. In-kind donations such as furniture, carpets also converged from all over Switzerland to help refurbish the former palace.
During six weeks, a team of international volunteers toiled day and night under the guidance of Swiss engineer Robert Hahnloser and his deputy, Dutch architect Jap de Boer, in order to repair the inside of the house. On 9 July 1946, the first meal cooked in the just enabled new kitchen was served to 150 guests. During that 1946 summer, 3000 people visited the new Caux conference centre. Dormitories were installed and some of the participants had to be allocated in nearby hotels. This is how the Caux Palace we know today was founded, and we can see how the Caux Forum is still highly dependent on the the contribution of volunteers, even today!
In the morning before the free afternoon, all CG groups met to play games. These games helped us realised that a community can take ownership of a game and have fun, building relationships between them.
The morning has alternated between setting cards in the right order, making the longest shadow as a team and ended with a surprise water balloon attack that helped everyone cool-down.
It really showed that while you play you learn valuables lessons.
CATS France wanted to share CATS spirit while talking about school dropout and how to deal with this problem. It was more about finding solutions and to share our thoughts on the pleasure of learning together.
CATS France brought 70 people together, more than half of those present were young people over the age of 10. On the 10 and 11 of March 2018, we got together so that young people, as well as adults could express themselves. In the program there were community groups, human library, expression workshops, cooperative games and a convivial evening.
The audience was not limited to students, rather, parents and teachers were present. We had major goals: to define the causes of school dropout and discuss the solutions.
We talked about our experiences on what was in place to help young people, all the wonderful initiatives of the teenagers and the adults to leave CATS France with our own ideas. I think there have been an awareness for all the participants especially with the human library where we had very emotional moments.
Finally, children and adults have been working together in a place where everyone is listened. I realized that some young people were not used to make their voices heard and to be heard, where we can see the importance of spreading CATS throughout the world. We created a real link and solidarity with the participant, all of that in a good mood.
The different proposals have been made to Mrs Geneviève Avenard, Human Rights Defender in charge of Children’s Rights in France, in a meeting planned for mid-April. This experience allowed all participants to be more open minded, to try to understand while respecting each person. It shows the way for future partnerships between the participants involved in this conference.