AWEPA former Honorary Vice President’s grandson has the opportunity to thank Archbishop Tutu for his exampleship in person.
Long before 20-year-old Arnaud Zimmermann was born, his grandparents were contributing time and effort to help realise AWEPA’s mission. Grandfather and former Belgian politician and Minister Dr. Luc Dhoore and grandmother Julie Standaert became involved with AWEPA back in 1984, only retiring a few years ago when they were well into their 80’s.
It was therefore with great enthusiasm that Arnaud heard that he was one of 20 students selected to meet His Grace Desmond Tutu. Arnaud is a student at Chapman University in Orange, California, having moved from Belgium with his family to the United States when he was five years old. This year, as part of a study abroad program, he has the fantastic opportunity to do one Semester at Sea which is a programme that transports students around the world whilst they take classes on board as they sail from country to country: Japan, China, Vietnam, Myanmar, India, South Africa, Ghana, Morocco. This will draw to an end on April 19th in Germany. Arnaud: “It has been the experience of a lifetime and it is bittersweet that it is almost at its end.”
During his time in South Africa, he “got the incredible opportunity to meet someone very close to the AWEPA organization, Archbishop Desmond Tutu.” Back in 2010, Desmond Tutu sailed on Semester at Sea with the students throughout the course of the whole voyage. Since then, he has been a spokesperson for Semester at Sea and he came on board briefly during its South Africa stop over to commemorate a scholarship that was being named after him and his wife Leah called the “Desmond and Leah Tutu Ubuntu Scholarship”. The purpose of this scholarship is to give at least one African per semester the financial liberty to sail with Semester at Sea.
Since Desmond Tutu is struggling a bit with his health, the organisers were asked to keep the attendance at 40 people and so they nominated 20 students and 20 faculty members. “Since my grandparents Luc Dhoore and Julie Standaert spent many years working for AWEPA and working with Demond Tutu,” explained Arnaud, “I told the faculty on the ship this and thankfully I was among the students chosen. Desmond Tutu came on the ship with his wife Leah and their whole entourage. He gave a quick speech revolving around the scholarship and then we all briefly got the chance to talk individually with him. I had with me a letter that he had written addressed to my grandfather for his 80th birthday that I shared with the Archbishop during my moment to speak with him. I also took the opportunity to thank him for the impact he has made on my grandparents life as well as mine. He then also signed my journal addressing it to AWEPA saying, “AWEPA, you helped us become free. God Bless You.” I also got the opportunity to talk to Leah who was very welcoming and greeted me with a sincere hug!”
“My time with the Tutu’s was short but it was an encounter that I will cherish forever. Their passion, charisma and positive attitude radiated across the room and it was clear to all of us why they are such adored people.”