Wednesday 26 Apr, 2017

The Value of Vimy 100

As we led up to Vimy 100, we shared with you some of the incredible, immersive, and experiential activities you would ultimately participate in during your tour, specifically at the Artois Expo in Arras, France. Now your trip has come and gone, and one of the most important aspects to any travel experience is to reflect back upon what you saw, heard, tasted, smelled, touched, and felt. Here’s your first chance to reminisce!

Well friends, it’s hard to believe we’ve reached the end of the Road to Vimy.

Outside entrance to the Educational Hub

Our groups have returned from their Vimy 100 tours, after having seen France and maybe Belgium, or Germany, or maybe even Italy. The Educational Hub at the Artois Expo has been built and then disassembled again. Our travellers got to immerse themselves in parts of the world they’ve never been before, and had the once-in-a-lifetime experience of attending the commemorative ceremony of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

They also might have received a commemorative sunburn (because who could have predicted such beautiful weather in northern France?!).

Historical Interpreters standing post at the Trench Entrance

But let’s start this recap with a look at the EF Educational Hub—a massive space with something for everyone, including immersive activities, such as the SimWave 4D virtual reality experience, walls full of collaborative art, places to relax that resembled the rolling hills surrounding the Vimy monument, and the sounds of war exploding from the trench experience behind the fully-uniformed First World War interpreters of the Shorncliffe Trust —it was almost an overwhelming amount of action to take in.

One educator, Dan W., told us his experience in the Expo was, “Unbelievable. The amount of effort and thought that’s gone both into the thinking and logistics behind it, and actually doing it, is astounding. It’s incredible. This is fantastic.” You make us blush, Dan W.

Students learning about Empathy with Twenty One Toys

Students and educators alike were so enthusiastic about all of the projects and activities that our educational partners facilitated. Invictus Games challenged students to get out of their comfort zone. Their interactive wall asked people to write a personal “I am” statement, and the students answered with enthusiasm and vigor—from paragraphs about why people were proud to be Canadian, to uplifting thoughts on diversity, acceptance, and hope for the future. Twenty One Toys encouraged participants to think differently about solving problems and overcoming challenges, and WE helped students create an action plan for changing the world. This is just the start of what our educational partners offered, and the creative thinking they inspired.

The Hamilton Signals Association was also a hit with travellers. Their booth was practically at maximum capacity the entire duration of the Expo! We asked one group what they were enjoying most about the activity—learning how to build and use a Morse code machine—and they said it was learning a new way of communicating with each other (kind of like old-fashioned emojis). These kinds of incredible connections between the past and present were evident all over the Expo floor.

Cadets taking in the last moments of sunshine under the Vimy Ridge Monument

Whether you explored the Expo before or after the Vimy 100 ceremony, the afternoon of the 9th was a highlight. With inspiring speeches and Canadian talent featured, including performances from Paul Gross and musician Lorena McKennitt, it was a truly moving experience. Standing under a cloudless sky, 25,000 people waited with anticipation for the VIPs to arrive, and with most of the attendees being Canadian, Justin Trudeau entered to uproarious applause—even more so than Princes William and Harry. It’s not often Canadians show their patriotism, but on this day, Canadian pride was overflowing.

And these who were at the event will of course remember the friendly announcer, who let everyone know they should stay off the monument. For those who weren’t there, no one listened.

Although the event may be over, Vimy 100 has made an incredible impact on people from all across Canada. One we hope inspired our teachers, students, cadets, cadet leaders, and everyone else in attendance to change their perspective, and find their own ways to connect Canada’s proud past with our journey towards our promising future.

 

Feeling inspired after Vimy? Or even just after reading about it? Start planning a Historic Event Tour for your students, and take them to the places that shaped Canadian history!