By WCIA Volunteer Morgane Dirion
Highlighting the “long friendship” and “strong bond” between Wales and Italy, Deputy Presiding Officer Ann Jones introduced Raffaele Trombetta, Italian ambassador to the UK. the event, on 11th February 2019 at the Pierhead Building, Cardiff Bay, was hosted by the Wales Governance Centre, Cardiff University.
Initially, addressing Brexit and Italy, Trombetta said “it is time and it is important that people know more” about Italy, such as the thousands of innovative start-ups flourishing there or its competitive machinery industry.
After explaining what a “significant contribution to Welsh life” the Italian community had brought, he moved to the main point of his speech. He explained that the negotiation phase of Brexit, so far, had had no effect on the bilateral trade between the two countries. He said it was important to respect the decision made in June 2016 but that, however, he was and would always be a “committed member” of a united Europe and that anything that potentially has a negative effect on trade would be of concern. He clearly said that the worst scenario we could be faced with today was a no-deal Brexit.
Trombetta also answered dozens of questions from his audience – a mix of concerned UK and Italian citizens and Politics students. Questions included: his perception of Wales; the meaning of a no-deal Brexit for Italy; concerns about dual citizenship or the benefits of the European Union for disadvantaged people.
He made sure to emphasize once again the importance of Italian projects in Wales and the need to find new ways to keep building the relationship between the two countries.
Trombetta said that he wished there was no talk about a post-Brexit Europe but as it was something that, in today’s political climate, cannot be avoided, he stressed the importance of the Union as an architect of peace. The next European elections will be decisive, he admitted. These elections will not be some kind of test of national governments but a true chance to focus on the structure of Europe, to allow a constructive debate about the very nature of the Union and to try to take a position on deeper integration or a looser union.
By WCIA Volunteer, Teresa Morandini
“You are all welcome,” said Eluned Morgan, Minister for International Relations and Welsh Language, at the Holocaust Memorial event, “Torn from Home” at the Temple of Peace Cardiff on 28 January 2019.
The event, organised by the Josef Herman Foundation and the Welsh Centre for International Affairs, reflected on the loss of a safe place due to persecution and genocide, and the need for a place of refuge.
Eluned Morgan added: “People generally want to stay at home. If they have fled from somewhere it will be a for a good reason.” To feel welcome everyone needs to be helped to integrate.
Celebrating the artist, Josef Herman is important because of both the welcome he found and the contribution he made in sharing Welsh life with the world though his art: “Only someone from the outside could help us to understand who we are”.
Josef Herman was born in 1911 into a Jewish family in Warsaw, where he attended the School of Art. However, after 1938, Josef was forced to abandon Poland to escape anti-Semitism. In 1942 Herman was working in Glasgow when he learned through the Red Cross that his entire family had perished in the Warsaw Ghetto. In 1944, while he was travelling in Wales, Herman’s art was influenced by a visit to Ystradgynlais, a South Wales mining town, which turned into an 11-year stay. In a short time, he turned to a familiar face in the community who gave him the affectionate nickname of “Joe Bach”. He found “home far from home”.
Since Herman’s time, Ystradgynlais has been a place of sanctuary. It was one of the first places to accept Syrian refugees. The evening saw the screening of three short films supported by the Josef Herman Foundation , to link the past and the present. The animations were made though a collaboration between local schools in Ystradgynlais, Syrian a refugee family, the actor, Michael Sheen, The Welfare, Ystradgynlais, Ffilm Cymru and the Cardiff based animation company Winding Snake. The audience also heard personal stories from refugees, who are now living in Wales.
Joseff, an asylum seeker and now Welsh speaker from Côte d’Ivoire, said: “Learning Welsh has been helpful to feel part of the community, to meet other people and, most importantly, to feel welcomed”. His entire speech was in Welsh, which earned him a huge round of applause. Joseff, who is in his 40s, encouraged other refugees look at Wales as a new home, a new start free from violence and persecution. Gareth Morgan, spoke enthusiastically about how a local Cardiff football team in Tongwynlais has found, not only success on the field, but also new, life-enhancing friendships since inviting a group of asylum seekers to join their team. Other asylum seekers and refugees also shared their stories of difficulties with the asylum system, of discrimination at times, but also of welcome as they settled in Wales. Finally, cellist, Rosie Biss, played a moving Bach solo as the audience reflected on the stories told and how Wales is working towards becoming a Nation of Sanctuary.
Members of the audience agreed that the short films presented should be played to the wider public, to encourage the knowledge about the asylum seekers’ situation and Josef Herman’s story.
Ffion, journalism student at the Cardiff University, said the event was very inspiring. “I learnt new perspectives and personal stories. Now I am wondering about what I can do in the future”.
The Exhibition accompanying Temple80 sought to draw together the story of the Temple, with Wales’ peace heritage of the last 100 years – including hidden histories gathered by community groups and volunteers 2014-18 – along with responses from young people, schools and artists.
View Temple80 Exhibition Guide – English; Welsh
Artists in Residence showcased a range of responses for visitors to delve deeper into the Temple’s stories:
On Saturday 24th, this was followed by a #PeaceGarden30 Rededication and Family Fun Day, in which WCIA brought together UNA Exchange international volunteers and alumni and Garden of Peace Founder Robert Davies, with children from Roath Park Primary School
Together they unveiled 2 new colourful mosaics (created by international volunteers) on a new archway entrance in the Peace Garden; buried a Time Capsule in the Garden, to be opened in 50 years time; and unveiled a plaque on one of WCIA’s meeting rooms in honour of Robert Davies, and all international youth volunteers inspired by him from 1973 to today.
by Sallie Slade, daughter of Bill and Sallie Davies
This fund was set up in 1980 . The story behind this is:
During James Callaghan’s premiership it was decided to hold a national competition among Labour party members to build up the information in the Labour Party archives. The competition was held in 1979. The secretary of each constituency was asked to seek out their longest serving members and ask them to make a tape recording for the Labour Party’s “Tape Archive Competition”. Dad was asked by the Secretary of the Monmouth Constituency Party Mr. Ray Hill to participate. Dad duly spoke into the tape about his early memories of the early Labour party days in Ebbw Vale, and the people who were welcomed into his home such as early Labour party greats including Noah Ablett, Enoch Morrell, Keir Hardie, his parents standing surety in case there was “crowd trouble “at the open air meetings. The ” soap box” people stood on to speak was kept under their stairs. As he said it took a great deal of courage to be involved in the Labour Movement during those early days.
Much to dad’s surprise he actually won first prize of £500 . Dad decided he wanted to do something worthwhile with the money. At the time he was heavily involved with the Welsh Centre for International Affairs. (He had served as the Welsh representative on the UK executive of UNA for 5 years. In 1981 he was appointed president of Welsh National Council of the United Nations Association).
He decided to set up the Sallie Davies Memorial fund in memory of his late wife to be used by C.E.W.C. (Council for Education in World Citizenship) to promote their aims. My dad, family members and other people contributed to the fund so that the sum available increased. The Wales TUC and Welsh UNA made significant contributions. In the early days the fund was used to provide prizes for a Sallie Davies Memorial Fund Competition to be held in schools. One early competition was a poster competition about peace. In 1989 schools that raised the most money for UNICEF were able to nominate young people to go to Lesotho to see how the UNICEF money was being spent. Beth Appleton from Llandrindod Wells and Stephen Pearce from Neath were accompanied by Mandy Owen (CEWC officer at WCIA at the time ). They had a wonderful experience being seen off at the airport by the High Commissioner of Lesotho and being welcomed at the other end by UNICEF officials and members of the British Consulate. They were able to witness how UNICEF donations were put to good use in a recipient country.
Later it was decided that the best way to use the money was to help support the Wales Schools Debating Team which competed in the World Schools Debating Competition. This continued for a number of years.
The family hope that the money will continue to be used in ways that continue to support education in Wales.