2nd North-South School more than double 1st
When we predicted that the October-November 1999 North-South School would benefit from 1998's success, we had no idea how right we were. The result was a session that one young Brazilian participant described as 'unforgettable'.
- The 1998 school had 11 participants; the 1999 school had 24, from Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Denmark, France, Mauritius, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sweden, Uruguay and Venezuela.
- Two countries and organizations were represented at the IIRE for the first time (by two of the most enthusiastic participants): from Pakistan, the only left party now actively resisting the military regime that seized power there last month; from Venezuela, an organization that is contending with the political tempest that brought populist ex-general Chavez to power.
- Our recruitment efforts gave us a substantial European contingent for the first time at this type of school: eight Europeans in place of last year's one.
- With Spanish as a language we were able to have a substantial, coherent group of Latin Americans (ten) who could discuss their region's issues in depth.
- Even the meals the participants cooked seemed above the usual IIRE standard.
The higher turnout at the 1999 school may be due in part to our decision to shorten it from four weeks to three. Participants did miss the topics that had to be dropped in the shorter school - they particularly insisted that more attention must be paid to Europe next time - but from our point of view the greater size and liveliness more than made up for the omissions.
Reports particularly appreciated by participants were Catherine Samary's presentation of issues in the transition to socialism, Pierre Rousset's discussion of new strategic challenges in the era of globalization, and Livio Maitan's report on internationalism past, present and future. Pedagogical innovations based on last year's experience were warmly debated, but most were welcomed by the majority in this year's final evaluation.
Added to the success of the September 1999 Youth School, this North-South School strongly suggests that the IIRE is needed and appreciated by a growing new generation of activists.