Reflections Belgium 2017

Blog post by Shakée Knolle-Akyuez

Posted by Shakée Knolle-Akyuez

My Adopted Soldier

When I first heard about the "My adopted soldier" I did not realise how important and big it is. This project had the intention to educate us about the WWI and about all the courageous soldiers that died during the war. Because Irish and German students were a part of this project it was possible to see and learn about different kind of views on the war.

When we arrived in Leuven, Belgium, we were warmly greeted by the Irish students. The atmosphere wasn´t tense and the Irish students seemed nice and welcoming. On that same day we also got to know each other a little better.

During this project we visited several graveyards and memorials and even the European Parliament.Some of them were German graveyards some of them Irish. Some were big some small. But they all had one thing in common. They showed us how many people died during the war. When you saw all these graves next to each other it was shocking to see the amount of people died. These graves were built to honor the brave soldiers who lost their lives; they hoped that people will not forget about them.

At almost every graveyard one of the students held a presentation about their "adopted" soldier in front of their grave. It was very touching each time when you heard about the lives the soldiers had before their death and you realised that soldiers are also people and that they lost their life. You got to know the person behind the grave.

When we visited the graveyards it was a sad atmosphere for everyone. But I felt like the Irish students were far more emotional than us Germans. They cried and kneeled at the soldiers graves.For me it was interesting to see how different the importance of this project was for Irish and German students.

What I personally found very impressive were the trenches we visited. Were you could see how these soldiers had to live and that they had the fear that they could die every second. As we walked through the trench it was like we`re very close to the war.

Projects like this are very important and need to get more attention so that the younger generation does not forget about what happened in the past. It is a great way of learning about an important topic with different kinds of people which makes it even more interesting.

We had a lot of fun and I think we will not forget the time we spent in Belgium.