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In Conversation with IofC France

"Caux changed my life...It was the picture of all these people coming from different social and religious backgrounds and yet they were able to share something very strong and powerful."

Wednesday, 13. February 2019

Jaella Brockman and Tracie Mooneyham talk to the president of Initiatives et Changement France (IofC France), Marie-Hélène de Cherisey, and its Déléguée Générale, Claire Tamano. In 2004 Marie-Hélène and her husband and five children travelled around the world, visiting and filming social entrepreneurs.

How did you first encounter IOFC and how did it transform you?

Marie-Hélène de Cherisey:

I was 20 when I first came to Caux with my family for Christmas and I was really touched by the quiet time. Caux changed my life. I felt as if I was a leaf floating on a river and I was able to become a tree growing with strong roots. It was the picture of all these people coming from different social and religious backgrounds and yet they were able to share something very strong and powerful.

Claire Tamano:

I first encountered IofC one and a half years ago. I had been reading a lot of books about the Holocaust and this led me to ask, ‘Did people see it coming and what can we do at a time when we are seeing so much extremism?’ I felt I should help.

IofC has changed me a lot in this short time. I hope that I judge less and listen more. It changed my relationship with my son, too. I see him more as an individual that I need to listen to. Working with the children’s forum affects your experience with your own family.

Why does IofC France focus on youth and what are the outcomes you would like to promote?

Marie-Hélène de Cherisey:

We have two focus areas in France. First, children and the awakening of citizenship, and secondly intercultural dialogue, which is crucially needed in France at this moment. When the children’s forum began in 2012, based on the powerful pedagogy of Jonathan Levy, the youth programme was already there, focusing on education for peace.

We have been able to empower children to take action: for example, by writing to the European Council about violence against children. CATS has changed the life of various children. Children of prisoners suddenly discovered themselves to be unique persons. This empowers a generation that could change everything.

Claire Tamano:

We often think about citizenship as a generational concept, but you don’t get involved in your community just because you’re 18 years old. If you already feel like an important agent in the political setting of your country before this age, you can act accordingly. Children might not always be right but their voices matter. If you tell a child to only listen to adults, they won’t suddenly find their voice as soon as they turn 18.

What do you consider the biggest challenges for next generations?

Marie-Hélène de Cherisey:

Maybe we should ask what is the purpose behind the actions we take? Technology will not solve all the problems.

Claire Tamano:

Climate change. Certain countries and populations have had privilege but now we must change drastically, if only to survive. Often, people in developed countries say that their way of living is not negotiable. As a new generation we will have to think differently.


Want more to learn more from Marie-Hélène and Claire? Read the full interview on the xChange, our news and collaboration space for members!