How it started

After the intensity of three months together, many Delegates vowed to stay in touch forever. In the days before e-mail, that wasn’t so easy to do. A few managed to keep contact with their closest friends. Some went back home and became friends with fellow country delegates from other years. There were mini-reunions and the occasional effort at a newsletter, but contact declined as life moved on. 


Years after the Forum ended, it took the curiosity and persistence of Gerry Thompson (Rhodesia ’60) and the generosity of Jordan Arzoglou (Greece ’60) to start a search on a grand scale and to get Delegates back in touch with each other. Gerry, like many Delegates, had often wondered what had become of all those idealistic young students that she had known so well in 1960. One day while meeting  with Gerhard Caspar (Germany ‘54), then President of Standford University in California and who had served as an Alumni Fellow while Gerry was on the Forum, the conversation turned to Johan Holst (Norway ’56).

As Norwegian Foreign Minister, Johan had fulfilled the ideal of all Forum Delegates by making a concrete contribution to world peace, helping Israeli and Palestinian representatives negotiate the Oslo Peace Accords. What were all those other delegates doing now? In what ways, large and small, had others been affected by their World Youth Forum experience?  How could they come together and help each other?  Gerhard suggested that “someone” should try to track them down. Gerry returned to New York, where she was based and the thought kept turning around in her mind – who would that “someone” be?  After several months she decided that she had better get on with it! Her first step was to enlist the support of the Publisher of the International Herald Tribune, Lee Huebner.  Lee readily agreed to place a series of free ads in the Trib. The first Delegate to reply on the day the first ad appeared, was Jordan Arzoglou who was working at UNESCO in Paris. He offered “I Kourti” his old olive oil estate on Corfu for a possible Forum Reunion. Jordan then took an old address list from 1968 and sent off 800 invitations. Many came back stamped “Addressee unknown”, but the process had begun.

At the Corfu reunion in the summer of 1994, delegates came from as far away as Singapore, South Africa, Sweden and Canada. From that moment, they were hooked. More people joined the search. John Goulden (UK ’59) tapped into diplomatic circles to find people. Curt Cheauré (Austria ’70) wrote to German Embassies. Telephone directories were consulted and Internet searches were carried out.  Gerry Thompson and Lynn Baron Henson (USA ’60) organised a second Reunion in Washington, DC in May 1995 that was attended by about 30 people. A second summer Reunion was planned for Klagenfurt, Austria in 1995 and a fourth one, again in Corfu, followed in 1996.  Meanwhile Gerry had started to write a newsletter, which she called “The Delegate”
see and also). With the support of her organisation, the Council on International Educational Exchange, she undertook the production and mailing of our fledgling newsletter.


Last revised 06/05/2011

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