From 14th to 21st April 2012, QCEA invited F/friends from Europe and beyond to Brussels to learn about European Institutions and the work that QCEA does on behalf of European Friends. We were privileged to welcome participants from Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Great Britain, Lebanon, Palestine, Georgia and Ireland. Having such a diverse group meant that we learnt as much from each other sharing our personal experiences and cultures over dinners at Quaker House and, as we did from the Tour itself.
During the Study Tour we visited Institutions in Brussels and Strasbourg, including:
- European Commission
- Council of the European Union
- Council of Europe
- European Parliament
- European Court of Human Rights
Participants heard presentations from QCEA staff and guests on a variety of topics, among them peace-building, sustainable energy security, criminal justice, Israel/Palestine and many more. Two participants from Lebanon and Palestine also gave us presentations on their experiences and the Quaker Schools in Brummana and Ramallah where they teach.
The Study Tour offers a unique opportunity to learn about the European Union and Council of Europe and the valuable role of Quakers in promoting peace, equality and sustainable use of our planet’s resources.
Below you will find some photos from the 2012 Study Tour and comments from participants.
If you would like to find out more please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will inform you when the date of the next Study Tour is confirmed.
“At the end of it now I leave Belgium with a lot of warm memories. I will remember all the participants and keep them in the light…Brussels is magnificent. Ambiorix is a fine location.” Participant
“I learned so much and have so many memories, from one friend ‘plain speaking’ to MEP Nick Griffin who we bumped into in a restaurant in Strasbourg, a lovely shared meal the first night in Quaker House, seeing deer grazing in the centre we stayed in at Strasbourg and a quiz (which brought our a very competitive streak in some Friends!) on the train journey back to Brussels. It was a wonderful week and I feel privileged that I was given the chance to attend and would recommend it to all Friends.” Marion Fairweather, Scotland
“For years the QCEA team has been working on human rights in criminal justice, on the role of the EU in peace building, on its role in the Palestine/Israel conflict, on its response to terrorism” Aline Alam, Math teacher, Brummana Quaker School.
“We learned to distinguish the functioning of the European Council and the Council of Europe (CoE). Two independent bodies with similar names and a lot of cooperation, but not to be mixed up! The Council of Europe was founded in 1949 as an answer to the disastrous Second World War, in the spirit: never again such a catastrophe!” Brigitte Seger, Switzerland
“Brilliant introduction to the work of EU and Council of Europe – gave me hope and I felt European – something worth working for” Participant
“You’ve just got to go to experience it” Participant
“The Study Tour is a remarkable opportunity to see and access the institutions and buildings in Brussels and Strasbourg. The people we met involved in the Institutions or Parties brought over and exceptionally exclusive insight. To be accommodated by a faith based NGO on the QCEA Study Tour did much for me.” Participant
“It was brilliant to be a part of such a diverse group and I feel I learned as much from conversations over dinner as I did during presentations on the working of the European Parliament. It was humbling to meet one of the ten Georgian Quakers and put my experiences of being the only Quaker in school into perspective. We were watched over with loving care by Liz Scurfield (who has been working for QCEA for the past nine years), programme assistants Hannah Slater and Cat Hellewell who ensured that we remembered to bring passport ID to visit various EU institutions, caught the right trains and turned up on time.” Marion Fairweather, Scotland
“A MUST!” Participant
“Very professionally done. The spirit of the organisers is contagious. The participants from Eastern countries have been an additional and unexpected expansion on learning with their experiences.” Participant
“I learned a lot about European Institutions and a view of QCEA. I had a great time with Friends from all over Europe and not only. Food was excellent.” Participant
“I would like to say that it has been a wonderful study and unique experience full of insights especially that this is the first time visiting Brussels and Strasbourg” Motasem Khader, Maths Teacher, Ramallah Quaker School
“Thank you so much for all your hard work bringing this together” Participant
“Exceeded expectations – lots of fun, very interesting and a lovely group of people.” Participant
“You have an opportunity during the Study Tour to see and to learn about European Institutions and so many things you can not have in other situations. And you can meet people you cannot meet in other places.” Participant