The first of Mennonite Central Committee Saskatchewan's monthly events to celebrate their 50th anniversary took place on Saturday January 18th, 2014. "Celebrate Exchange" offered a space for the International Volunteer Exchange Program's (IVEP) 31 years in Saskatchewan to be commemorated.
The event was generously hosted by past IVEP sponsor AODBT, an architecture firm, and was attended by hosts, sponsor supervisors, past MCCS IVEP coordinators, and friends of the program. The event included reflections from past staff, a Skype call with participant alumni, and a special thank you to two separate hosts who have hosted over 25 IVEPers each: Irene Klassen from North Battleford, and Florence and Otto Driedger from Regina!
Nelson Martinez, a current IVEP participant from Colombia based in Regina, also gave an address in which he was able to provide testimony that attested to the
long-time goals of this program:
* promote international peace and reconciliation
* help participants understand themselves and others better
* promote international goodwill, understanding and friendship
* increase a sense of personal involvement and responsibility in a world of inter-related peoples
* strengthen bonds of Christian fellowship
* broaden horizons and views
* correct stereotypes and misconceptions about other peoples
* help participants gain vocational skills through a volunteer work placement
It was a reminder of the unique dynamics of this program in that it functions entirely off of community support - so in that way it was very meaningful to gather together to look back and appreciate the myriad of ways that collaboration has happened locally. The program was sweetened by the amazingly talented Chef Jenni who catered the event with delicious "restructured Mennonite foods". After being in the same room with such committed community builders for an evening, we will indeed look forward to many more years of celebrating exchange in Saskatchewan!