Charel Wohl - Gold
I am Charel Wohl and I participated twice at the Contest for young Scientists in Luxembourg with a project about ’Defence of Garlic Against Herbivory and Heavy Metals’. Following this I participated at prestigious international contests, like EUCYS 2011 and LIYSF 2011. I won a silver medal for scientific thinking at INESPO in 2012. At the same time I did my Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award as a direct entrant.
I recently accepted an offer onto an amazing PhD project. During the PhD I will take measurements of trace organic gases in both polar seas, my first steps on the training path of becoming a Polar Researcher.
Application for this project was ignited by the amazing collaboration between the Mérite Jeunesse and Jonk Fuerscher in Luxembourg. I took the adventure spirit and resourcefulness thought by the Mérite Jeunesse and the research skills to be found at Jonk Fuerscher, extrapolated both and ended up with this.
I would like to tell you this, because the fruits of the work of the Mérite Jeunesse and Jonk Fuerscher are not always directly visible as they produce no direct net value. However both are wonderful programs, that plant ideas in the mind of young people and build their characters. Ultimately this has a tremendous effect on society and the world as a whole. These people are doing lots of good.
Shayan Monadjemi - Bronze
Shayan is a student at the Athénée de Luxembourg. During the evening of the Award Ceremony 2017 he presented the activities he completed for his Sport and Skill Sections. Basket Ball was his choice regarding the Sport Section. Shayan joined a team which was playing its first season. He explained that they were losing all the games but it didn’t feel that bad, as his trainer said “If you lose, you get better”. The team is still playing and according to Shayan the most important thing in Basketball is perseverance, confidence and team-work!
As to his Skill activity, Shayan immediately knew that it would be theater. He had already been taking classes for about 10 years and during the ceremony he proudly stated that theater is his passion. This talent of Shayan was well visible to the public as he managed to bring emotions into his presentation (mainly fun) and he presented in a very confident manner.
Shadi Monadjemi - Bronze
Shadi is a student at the Athénée de Luxembourg. At the occasion of the Award Ceremony 2017, she presented her Service activity, as well as her Adventurous Journey experience.
For her Service, Shadi volunteered in Baha’i Children’s class, in which she helped 7 young participants between the age of 8-13 to apply principles as truthfulness, generosity and love. They danced and sang together, painted and did lots of other amusing activities together.
Shadi’s Adventurous Journey experience was exciting. She, her brother and some friends went in October on their expedition, so it was a bit cold but luckily sunny!
The journey brought them through Thillsmillen, Strassen, Simmerschlass, Hearebesch and Septfontaine. Shadi and her brother Shayan were both already very active and engaged before they started their Mérite but they said that they appreciate it a lot that thanks to the programme they get a recognition for it!
Yannick Noesen – Gold Award holder
Yannick finished his Gold level in 2016 and gained a lot of experience while taking part in the programme.
He did his Qualifying Journey during wintertime, with temperatures of minus 10 degrees and slept nonetheless in a tent. His team was part of the Scouts and they walked more than 80 kilometres in 4 days in Luxembourg.
For his Service section he volunteered for Young Caritas at different fronts. He, for instance, participated at activities with refugees, or brunches organised with patients in a hospital, or helped in the “Spillmobil”, a vehicle which stops at different places to entertain children with games. Although Yannick has finished his Gold level he still continues to help realising projects with refugees. As of January 2017, youngsters from Luxembourg and young refugees get to know each other while repairing bikes together and cooking. Once the bikes had been repaired, a three-day bike tour in Luxembourg was organised. This activity allowed the refugees to learn the language of the country, to make new friends and to feel a bit more at home in Luxembourg.
Yannick’s Residential Project took him to Kathmandu during the summer 2016. He helped to rebuild a school following the earthquake of April 2015. Even though it wasn’t easy for Yannick to face the appalling living conditions of Nepalese people, he enjoyed the experience. He got to know a other culture, made new friends and got to understand what it means to work really hard.
Nora Bohler – Gold Award holder
At the time Nora started the programm, she wasn’t very active. She used to sit at home, watch TV or play on her mobile phone. The Award encouraged her to try something new and taught her to stay strong and persevere even in times it is more difficult to carry on with an activity.
Getting her scuba diving license was the challenge she had set herself for the Physical Recreation section, and to complete her Skill section she worked for a Luxembourgish TV channel named “Uelzechtkanal”. This is where she learned how to cut videos, to edit the sound, but moreover she understood how important a good collaboration between the people in front of the camera and those behind it is.
Her Residential Project took her to Mayotte, an overseas department of France. A Luxembourgish youth center and a scuba diving club organized this cultural exchange enterprise. Not only her diving license was very useful for the participation, but also her knowhow on how to produce movies, as it allowed her to document all the exciting new experiences and the video report had been broadcasted on the TV channel she had worked for. The aim of the cultural exchange project, in which youngsters from Luxembourg and Mayotte participated consisted in giving people the chance to see Europe from a whole new perspective. Nora was amazed by the stunning nature and animal diversity she caught a sight of. However, she realised that the island has a serious environmental pollution problem, which she thinks is due to the poverty, making it impossible for the people and the government to really take care of nature.
To cover the costs of the project, participants from Luxembourg regularly organised activities to collect money. In addition, as an Erasmus Plus Project it was supported by the European Union so that in the end Nora only had to pay 150€ to participate.
Emelie Lindelöw - Gold participant
Adventurous Journey and Residential project in Nepal
After hours of planning the hiking routes we were going to do for our 4 day hike and after months of cake sales, online fundraising, and generous donations from various people and organisations, such as the Action Sans Frontières, we set off towards Nepal on the 9th of July 2017, shortly after we finished school. Three flights and 12 hours later we arrived in Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu. Our Award Leader had warned us of a possible culture shock when arriving in Nepal but many of us did not take it seriously because we thought we were experienced travellers and therefore immune to culture shocks. In the end, we were very wrong. Already in the coach on our way to the hotel the chaotic streets without traffic lights, the dust and pollution in the air and the unrecognisable smells were overwhelming. It was really then that we realised that we were 7000 km away from home in a country radically different from Luxembourg.
We spent our first days acclimatising and discovering the culture of Nepal by visiting grandiose temples like Boudhanath Stupa and Pashupatinath Temple where we actually witnessed a Hindu cremation from a distance.
We then travelled to the second largest city Pokhara where we started our hike and therefore spent a couple of days preparing and buying all the material and food we needed.With backpacks weighing up to 20kg, experienced guides and high spirits we set off.
With hindsight, we had greatly underestimated the challenges of the Nepalese mountains which pushed us to our physical and mental limits. However, that isn’t to say that the hike was bad. With aching backs, we witnessed the breath-taking mountain peeks of Dhaulagiri, lush jungles with chippering birds, and streaming rivers with crystal clear water. Thanks to our helpful guides and constant cheering each other on we managed to come to the camp sites every evening, exhausted but proud. As an iPhone hooked, lazy teenager according to my parents, those 4 days in the Nepalese nature were an invaluable experience that made me realise that one can accomplish so much more than one thinks.
From Nayapul we got on the bus to Makaising, a small village in the Gorkha district badly damaged by the earthquake that hit Nepal in 2015, which became a place of unforgettable memories for us. We arrived in the village on Thursday the 20th of July and were met by the Mandala organization which we worked with on the school project.
The week we spent in this school we were teaching English, building fences, painting murals and interacting with the children. The school was in desperate need of new school materials such as white boards, computers, fans and books, and with the 11 000 € that we raised, 6500€ went towards the school. Around 80 children aged 4-10 came voluntarily to the school even though they had holidays, and met us with the warmest smiles and the most contagious laughs one could imagine. Despite the language barriers we were able to communicate through playing, singing, and dancing. Seeing children with so little being so happy put a perspective to the materialistic frenzy we live in in the West, and the memory of their warm, small hands in ours is a memory that will never fade.
The 3 weeks we spent in Nepal were, without the slightest doubt or exaggeration, one of the best weeks of my life. The weeks spent in tents waking up with leeches on our feet, playing with Nepalese children and going on bumpy bus rides proved to be one of the most important life lessons for me so far. We came back as more independent individuals, aware of our luck in life’s lottery, but also aware of a parallel reality in a third world country where privileged people like us have the opportunity to help. It was an unforgettable experience that taught us much more about the world and life than we ever could have learned in a classroom.
European School Luxembourg I, November 2017