「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


A European youth camp

By Kip A. Cates


One of my biggest adventures as a young man was working at a European youth camp. It was a summer job offered by the German government. The contract was for five months. I applied and was offered a post … in Sweden!

It was exciting to arrive in Stockholm and meet the other staff. Every two weeks, we hosted young people from all over Europe. I still remember our first group. When their train arrived, out stepped 100 Europeans from 10 different countries! At first, they were shy, but they soon began to enjoy themselves.

Each day was full of activities: volleyball, hiking, badminton, canoeing. By chance, I'd brought along a Frisbee from Canada. It was 1977 and nobody there had seen one. I soon became the camp's Frisbee instructor and enjoyed teaching Europeans how to play.

Every night was disco night! We danced to Elton John, the Beatles and ABBA. As a staff member, my job was to entertain the guests. It was hard work — dancing with pretty girls from Spain, Germany, Denmark and elsewhere. I still can't believe I got paid for it!

During each camp, friendships sprang up between people from different countries. Romance blossomed as well. Each day, there were more couples holding hands — cute girls from Switzerland or Belgium with handsome guys from Sweden or Ireland. We were young, so there was no language barrier. To communicate, we used English, gestures ... or the language of love!

At meals, we'd gather round a table — young people from England, France, Italy, Canada, Germany — and become really good friends. It was hard to believe that, 30 years earlier, our countries had been enemies and our fathers had been at war.

The most difficult moment was saying goodbye. After two weeks together, we'd become like a family. It was painful knowing we might never meet again. We hugged and kissed, exchanged addresses and promised to keep in touch. After each departure, a new train arrived. We quickly wiped away our tears and welcomed the next group!

I was impressed by how our camp promoted cross-cultural understanding. But why was the German government involved? I asked the director. "For Europe," he explained, "the 20th century was a time of prejudice and hate. Millions of people were killed in World War I and World War II. Through this camp, we want to promote peace, friendship and European citizenship. In future, we plan to introduce a European currency and passport."

A European currency? A common passport? I respected the director, but this was hard to believe. It all seemed too naive and idealistic. Yet they succeeded! The European Union was founded in 1993 and now has its own passport and currency — the euro.

Of course, I enjoyed my summer in Sweden. But, I'm especially proud of the role I played in contributing to the EU and its mission of promoting international understanding!



The Japan Times ST: August 9, 2013

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート




2018年6月29日号    試読・購読   デジタル版