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Peace parade unites nations

UK students join Nobel ceremony to honourprize winners. Helen Ward reports.

IT was a chance meeting at a parade for peace between two people whose countries are at war.

At the closing event of the Nobel Peace Prize celebrations, hundreds of well-wishers joined a torchlight parade through Oslo - and an American girl reached out to an Afghan teenager.

"She shook my hand," said Farid Ahmad, 16, who fled Afghanistan for the UK a year ago, "and said, 'I wish you peace in your country'."

Farid left Jalalabad last year and now lives with his brother in Southall, London, where he attends Villiers high school.

His moving account of the journey from Afghanistan to Britain in The TES prompted an invitation to join the peace celebrations from Lindeberg school, in Oslo, which is Villiers's international partner.

Farid travelled with head of history Guy Maidment and fellow pupil Kajal Patel, 14, who had won a school award for her academic work. The flights were donated by British Airways.

The trip was arranged by Professor Anne Halvorsen of Lindeberg school, who said: "Once a year, the world looks at Oslo, to see the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. It is a unique opportunity which can be used in an educational way."

The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the United Nations and its secretary-general Kofi Annan in Oslo City Hall on Monday.

The Villiers school group were invited to the city hall to watch Mr Annan being interviewed live on CNN.

Afterwards they joined hundreds of peace campaigners in a torchlight procession to honour the peace prize winners.

Professor Halvorsen, who also lectures in teacher training, has worked with six immigrant children at Lindeberg to create a series of posters about war and peace, which had been displayed during a peace festival the previous week.

Farid and Kajal visited Lindeberg School the following day to meet the Afghan, Kurdish and Pakistani teenagers who had taken part in the project. About half of the 500 pupils at Lindeberg School are immigrants.

Mr Maidment said: "Projects like this exchange visit help to break down preconceptions. For children it is an opportunity to share experiences and exchange ideas as well as develop an awareness of the Nobel Peace Prize and how we can ensure peace works."

Farid said: "It has been a really good experience for us. The Norwegians are very hospitable. All the students are against war."

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