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On the way to 2020: searching through old boxes and files

by Wilbert Helsloot (Oct 30, 2018)


Many people would call us weird or crazy: while it is was beautiful autumn-weather in Switzerland, nine SCI-activists chose to work voluntary inside the archives of SCI, located in the local library of La-Chaux- de-Fonds. Our aim was to do research for the planned publication on occasion of the 100th anniversary of SCI.

The research was carried out by the team with concentration and often even in ‘serene’ silence, mainly on the upper floor of the library. Sometimes the coordinator of the archives went down to the actual archives with 'orders': Can you bring me box 46311?

The work was everything but boring. While one activist was ‘diving’ into the topic of expansion of SCI in Asia in the 1960’s, the other activist did research about the role of SCI during and after the Algerian independence-war. Another one read through files of SCI during and just after the 2nd World War, while the other one explored the period of feminism in SCI.

The ‘crazy’ team of activists was amazed by the material, what was being kept in the archives. Some older activists sharpened their own memories of later periods, everyone seemed to compare their own activism with that of older generations.

The actual writing about certain topics did not come very far - our main purpose was to collect material (often by scanning) in order to write articles later. Nevertheless we already saw the publication coming into shape!

We found a lot of interesting reports, personal stories, correspondences, songs and quotes. A statement was, for example, revealed by one of the activists in a report of the Asian secretariat to the international coordination in 1963: “Due to modern technology the world has become smaller and the intercontinental exchange has become an increasing challenge”. Whereas we now would read it maybe as that exchange would rather decrease, it was here meant that more volunteers found their way from and to Europe in Asia.

Article written by Wilbert Helsloot, SCI 2020 team member

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