The zis Program - Unchangend for over 50 Years

Jean WalterTalented young people need a challenge: This was the basic idea of French architect and industrial leader, Jean Walter (1883-1957). After a successful professional life, he regarded a journey to Istanbul, that he had undertaken with only 16 years of age, as essential for his personal progress. Walter believed that cultural exchange, a clear purpose and the experience of being in the need of help were crucial for fostering personalities ready to act responsibly. Jean Walter dedicated his fortune to the aim that other young people might make the same experience he once made himself. His foundation, named Zellidja after a patch of Land in Algeria where Walter found rich resources, still awards travel grants in France.

In 1956, the pedagogues Prince George Wilhelm of Hanover, Marina Ewald, and Jacques Doucet adopted the programme to Germany and based it in the prestigious Schule Schloss Salem. From the very beginning, the bursaries were open to young people from all social and educational backgrounds and from all nationalities. Today, the German programme is being organized and financed by the zis Stiftung für Studienreisen (zis Foundation for Travel Grants). It is a registered charity according to German Law.

In the past 50 years, almost 1500 young people undertook a zis trip adhering to the rules of the foundation and its predecessors. Since Jean Walter’s days, young people commit themselves to a framework that creates opportunities for unique experience, personal gain, and successful research. As every zis journey is a small but sustainable contribution to a peaceful encounter between nations and cultures, the programme is supported by the German commission for UNESCO.

zis is funded mainly by donations from private friends. Former participants make crucial contributions in form of money and of voluntary work as advisers to the participants and as members of the jury. They all share the conviction that an increasingly globalized world needs a young generation with well-reflected courage, personal integrity, and intercultural experience.