In 2005, a coalition of thirty-two high-school students took a life-changing journey to Serbia. Inspired by director Teresa MacInnes’s documentary Teaching Peace in a Time of War, help me with my assignment students from Nova Scotia and British Columbia formed Students for Teaching Peace and set out on a mission to spend their March Break doing something meaningful.

Eager to discover the similarities and differences between Canadian and Serbian youth, the students embark on what is for many their first trip outside of Canada. Equipped with video cameras, they document their every move, allowing us insight into their thoughts, feelings and experiences. These budding filmmakers provide a range of viewpoints, among them those of Sarah, a disabled student whose struggle with access provides an additional layer of thought to the issues of diversity the students are exploring, and whose fierce determination motivates everyone.

Touring through the cities and countryside of Serbia, students see a landscape that still bears the scars the recent war-torn past.

Yet despite the bombed-out buildings, the Canadian students marvel at Serbia’s beauty – and nowhere is this beauty more evident than in the welcoming faces of the youth who greet their visitors with open arms. Emotions overwhelm as bonds form among the Canadians and their new Serbian friends, and as the trip culminates in the Youth to Youth Peace Conference, the determination to work for a peaceful future becomes a shared goal.

Hope for the Future successfully captures the transformative effect of one incredible journey on the members of Students for Teaching Peace. Whether thrilled by the warm receptions received at each stopping point on the trip, or awestruck by the resilience of young people who have endured so much, thirty-two students return to Canada a little more aware of the world around them and a little more determined to use their lives to make a difference.

Hope for the Future screens at Viewfinders – a youth film festival on Friday, April 21 at 10:30 am in Bayer’s Lake, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Hope for the Future also screens at the Sprockets Film festival in Toronto:

Educators: High School Programme    Grades 9 to 12
Tuesday April 25, 2006    12:45 PM
Cineplex Odeon Sheppard Grande Cinema

Educators: High School Programme    Grades 9 to 12
Wednesday April 26, 2006     10:00 AM
Cineplex Odeon Sheppard Grande Cinema

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