Every summer, children from conflict regions all over the world come together on a lake in Otisfield, Maine, USA. They come to join a camp called Seeds of Peace. The main goal of Seeds of Peace is to “give rise to new generations of leaders uniquely inspired and equipped to build lasting peace.” This summer the camp hosted 92 campers from Israel and Palestine. The participated in diagloue sessions to replace anger with leadership skills to advance peaceful progress in conflict regions.
Watch this video to learn more about the campers this summer:
Seeds of Peace was founded by award-winning author and journalist, John Wallach, in 1993. That summer, a group of 46 Israeli, Palestinian, Egyptian, and American teenagers inaugurate the Camp. The Seeds are then President Clinton’s invited guests to the historic signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn.
On September 22, 2014, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spoke at Cooper Union college in New York City, New York, USA. “To those who say peace between Israelis and Palestinians is impossible, I say, let them visit America. I say, let them visit Maine,” he told the audience. “In Maine every summer, young Palestinians, Israelis, Americans, Arabs, and others meet in a camp called Seeds of Peace, founded in 1993. They build the very world I am calling for in Palestine. It works. It is real. It is the future.” Read his full speech here: http://www.seedsofpeace.org/?p=20785.
Part of the reason I think that this camp is so successful is because it is held on neutral ground. If this camp was held in either Israel or Palestine it may not be as effective, because either side may not feel as safe or protected to say what they want. By having this camp in Maine, either side is free to say their beliefs and talk in a peaceful way.
Seeds of Peace states their values as, “Our Seeds and Educators are at the heart of everything we do, as it is their realities and futures that are most affected by the conflicts that define their lives. They hold a wide range of beliefs and opinions on how to end the conflicts within and between their societies. Their common ground, however, is the belief in and commitment to dialogue and informed leadership as the basis for meaningful change and the most effective tools in the pursuit of peace.”
I think that what they are doing at this camp is powerful and meaningful to not only the children that are able to come and participate in it, but to the Americans as well. They learn how complicated this topic is and how difficult it is to come to a resolution.
What do you think? Do you think that this camp should be held in the United States or another neutral ground or in the conflict ridden areas? Do you think the camps are successful or not? Check out my friend Jess Carnprobst’s post on Peace Camps in the Middle East too!!