Youngsters relish mixing with foreign children
YOUNGSTERS from Cheltenham have spoken of their "life-changing" experience after learning all about different cultures.
Three boys and one girl from the town's branch of the CISV International charity spent four weeks in Germany this summer.
They represented Great Britain in an event that aimed to develop peace, understanding and friendship.
The camp brought together 60 11-year-olds from 11 different countries in a specially-created village in Hamburg.
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The event was run by the CISV International, an organisation that promotes peace and harmony by bringing children from different cultures together.
Oliver Parmar, of Queen's Road, Cheltenham, spoke about his experience at a debriefing meeting in Leckhampton.
He said: "It was very good, a life-changing experience.
"I made friendships that will last a lifetime and I will never forget it.
"It was great, in terms of building confidence and making friends."
The camp was the first time the children had been away from home for such a long time and Oliver said one of the things he had learned was that Britain is a good place to live in, compared to other less stable countries.
His father is anaesthetist Dr Mahesh Parmar, who himself attended a CISV International event when he was 11 and went on to set up the charity's branch in Cheltenham.
He said: "Everyone does their little bit and we all move forward together.
"This was a debriefing sessions for the kids and for their parents to hear more about what went on.
"We're hoping that we will be going to Spain next year."
As well as Oliver, two other boys from Cheltenham went to Hamburg – Jon Webster and Lucas Birchmore.
The Cheltenham branch group also included Isabella Petersen-Barreto, from Bath.
The children enjoyed mixing with 11-year-olds from the other countries, which included nations from western Europe, the USA, Central and South America.
As well as learning about each other's languages and cultures, the youngsters learned how to work as a team.
Each group from each country had an adult leader and 21-year-old Corrie Farrel, a teacher at Rowanfield Primary School in Cheltenham, carried out the role for the British team.
She said: "It was absolutely amazing. It was all about inclusion, working together to overcome boundaries, appreciating other countries and learning different languages.
"I totally support CISV values. It was really great.
"The GB kids caused the least hassle and they worked as a team. You saw the kids grow over the month. They learned to respect each other."