Essonne, France: From Grigny to Hiroshima, the path of a high school girl for Peace

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An article from Actu

Inès Lakehal, a 17-year-old Grigny high school student, has been sent by her commune to Japan for a week to raise her voice in favor of peace.

She is only 17 years old, and yet Inès Lakehal can now claim to have attended one of the most important diplomatic and solidarity gatherings of youth. During the summer, the high school girl was sent by her commune to the land of the rising sun for a week, as part of a program of actions led by the non-governmental organization Mayors for Peace.

Objectives: to represent Grigny during the Japanese commemoration ceremonies of August 6 in Hiroshima and then attend the International Youth Conference for Peace in the Future with about forty other adolescents of different nationalities. “This experience has been very rewarding,” says Inès Lakehal. It was the first time that I traveled alone, as far outside France, and that I had to use English continuously. Fortunately I had prepared well, “she continues with a laugh of relief.

Enthusiastic about peace since she was 11 years old, Inès has been very involved in her city. Being fluent in Shakespeare’s language, she had the right profile as well as motivations to be accepted for participation by Mayors for Peace.

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Question related to this article:

How can culture of peace be developed at the municipal level?

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Workshops and cultural visits

Divided in two stages, the typical Japanese day for Inès during the week was divided between thematic workshops on peace in the morning and cultural visits of the country in the afternoon (city of Uwajima, walks with the traditional Yukata summer kimono …). The high school student told us she met during this trip people who were “really incredible, engated, all of them eager to make peace”.

“I had many exciting and constructive peace conversations. I realized that many clichés we have about certain nationalities are completely false. I am thinking in particular of this young Iranian girl who was in my group. One of the most adorable people in the world, so open and advocating peace between states, even though in Europe we have such a bad image of Iran.”

A future career in politics or diplomacy?

Now rich in her various commitments and always keen on peace, Inès does not rule out directing her future and career towards politics or diplomacy. “Since the end of my studies at the municipal council of college students in Grigny, I have worked with its students to enable them to adapt to new roles and find new ideas and projects.”

The young lady recognizes that the participation in high spheres of political decision can sometimes lead to disenchantment. “Having the chance to participate at these levels has given me a passion and desire to continue in this direction. But it is a complicated environment. I didn’t realize this before because in Grigny the setting is like a cocoon, a big family where everyone knows each other,” she says.

150 French communes within the NGO

Mayors for peace was created in 1948 by the mayors of Japanese cities bombed during the Second World War Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is a non-governmental organization with special consultancy status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

Its main lines of action concern the promotion and education of a culture of peace, support for the UN Charter and the development of multilateral security organizations, stopping wars and peaceful settlement conflicts, as well as disarmament and elimination of nuclear weapons. Involving more than 6,000 municipalities in 160 countries, Mayors for peace includes 150 communes in France. The president of the hexagonal branch turns out to be … Philippe Rio, the mayor of Grigny.

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