August 3, 2016 | Camp Session 2 (Maine)

The second session of the Seeds of Peace Camp will bring together campers from Maine, Syracuse, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City.

ADDRESS: 183 Powhatan Road, Otisfield, Maine
DATE: August 3, 2016
TIME: August 3–16
LOCATION: Seeds of Peace Camp
WEBSITE: www.seedsofpeace.org/camp
CONTACT: camp@seedsofpeace.org


The Power of Nonviolence | Humankind

Part 5 Seeds of Peace (half-hr.)

How exactly can we build a future based on understanding and connection among people of diverse backgrounds—rather than prejudice, misinformation and suspicion that are the fuel for violence? According to the late journalist John Wallach, the answer is to instill this awareness at a young age. He went on to found a truly daring experiment in breaking down barriers: the Seeds of Peace summer camp on a glistening lake is Otisfield, Maine. David paid a return visit for this episode.

Since the camp was launched in 1993, more than 6,000 teenagers from conflict regions around the globe have come for about a month of refuge. Their homes are places like the Middle East and South Asia. Usually it’s their first encounter with someone from “the other side” of bitter religious, ethnic or national discord. Here they meet, talk, eat, play sports, and sing together, living in integrated bunks. They discover that people who’ve been demonized are not monsters—just other kids trying to make their way in a confusing world.

Understanding happens when you have access to the other narrative

We hear the diverse voices and accents of campers, who are known as the Seeds. They are Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Christian, agnostic, etc. and are invited into interfaith dialogue. They are disturbed by violence, especially when claimed to be perpetrated on “religious” grounds. They feel they are up against a wall of misinformation disseminated by media in one country against the people of another.

Camp co-founder Bobbie Gottschalk, who remains active in Seeds of Peace, recalls her own experience as a 20-year-old student at a Quaker college, which organized a trip to the Soviet Union to promote person-to-person dialogue at the height of the Cold War. That journey helped her understand the importance of forging personal connections in a polarized world.

As one counselor observed: “Understanding and being able to open your ears to the other side can make a world of change.”

Listen to David Freudberg’s report on Humankind ››


Syracuse Seeds win youth peace action award

SYRACUSE, NEW YORK | Two Seeds won the Youth Peace Action Award from the Syracuse Peace Council on June 7.

Both students, Olivia and Lauren, are 2014 Syracuse Seeds at Nottingham High School and were awarded by the Syracuse peace council for their work facilitating race-based dialogues at their school. Olivia also organizes after school workshops on diversity, identity, and conflict management for third graders at Ed Smith Elementary School.

In addition to these Seeds, two students who are active with the Seeds of Peace community in Syracuse were also presented with the award.

Kema is very active in the Seeds of Peace Club at Henninger High School and works to help other refugees prepare for and apply to college.

Abshiro has met with politicians in Syracuse and Washington, D.C., to advocate for the Oromo people in Ethiopia. Abshiro is also involved with the Black Lives Matter campaign and is very active in the Seeds of Peace Club at the George Fowler High School in Syracuse.


Toll Brothers volunteers prepare Camp for summer

OTISFIELD, MAINE | Over 70 volunteers from Toll Brothers spent the weekend preparing the Seeds of Peace Camp for the summer.

This is the 18th consecutive year in which employees from the company, along with many of their partner businesses, have volunteered their time and resources renovating the Camp.

“We are so grateful for the support of Toll Brothers and the enthusiasm with which they come up here every year to get your Camp ready,” said Seeds of Peace Executive Director Leslie Lewin.

“For this crew to lend their talents to us on a Saturday really means a lot. Camp now looks amazing and is ready to receive hundreds of new campers in a month!”

This year, the volunteers did a extensive landscaping, rebuilt a footbridge over the creek, applied fresh coats of paint to many buildings, and took on a variety if carpentry projects in the bunks and dialogue huts.

Toll Brothers, Inc. is one of America’s leading luxury homebuilders and Bob Toll, Executive Chairman of the Toll Brothers Board, is a member of the Board of Directors of Seeds of Peace.


Pakistani Seeds visit Kashmir, gain firsthand experience of issues facing region

LAHORE | 26 Pakistani Seeds, Educators and their friends spent three days in Kashmir from May 27-29.

None of the participants had been to the territory before, and the trip allowed them to better understand the political dynamics in the region and get the perspectives of local Kashmiris.

“Seeds had a wonderful time in exploring new things and depth in the conversations talking to local people,” said Director of Pakistani Programs Imran Khan.

For many Seeds, the experience of meeting was eye-opening.

“The trip gave us an opportunity to have an insight about the Kashmiri narrative of the Kashmir issue, and socio-political dynamics of Pakistan administered Kashmir,” said Talha, a 2013 Seed.

“It is very important to understand the people of a region before understanding their issues.”

Seeds of Peace partnered with the Youth and Peace Organization of Kashmir to run the visit.

Indian Seeds take part in negotiation skills workshop

MUMBAI | Fourteen Indian Seeds attended a negotiation skills workshop at the Bombay International High School on May 29.

Participants explored the importance of the win-win solution and ways to overcome obstacles in the negotiation process and reach such a solution.

The Seeds engaged in a negotiation role play in which groups were given a case study and divided into buyers and sellers. Tasked with arriving at a mutually beneficial solution, the participants acquired a greater understanding of the needs of both groups.

Following a debriefing session, the Seeds agreed that in conflict situations, people tend to focus solely on our their own needs and objectives. They do not pause to consider the needs of the other side. This is often the biggest reason why negotiations fail: by ignoring the other, they fail to arrive at a win-win outcome.


Seeds of Peace in Afghanistan hosts debate tournament for 200 students

KABUL | Seeds of Peace partnered with Rana University in Kabul to host a two-day debate tournament for over 200 students, including seven Afghan Seeds, from 12 high schools.

The event served as one of the biggest Seeds of Peace programs ever held in Afghanistan.

The May 26-27 competition taught participants parliamentary debate style as well as critical thinking and communication skills.

Other organizations that helped host the event included Afghans for Progressive Thinking, the Open Debating Society of Afghanistan, and the Afghanistan Youth Civic Engagement & Educational Organization.

The Seeds who took part also helped organize the program and acted as representatives of their schools.


Seeds visit This Place Exhibit and Dialogue at the Brooklyn Museum

NEW YORK | American Seeds visited a photography exhibit on Israel and the West Bank at the Brooklyn Museum on May 21.

The ‘This Place Exhibit’ explores Israel and Palestine through the eyes of 12 internationally-acclaimed photographers. The visit was followed by a dialogue session to discuss how Israel and Palestine are represented through art and photography and other reactions to the photographs. Many participants felt that the exhibit lacked political context.


VIDEO: Courage to Lead Change

Seeds of Peace is working to support young leaders living in communities divided by conflict to accelerate social, economic, and political changes essential for peace—from our Camp in Maine, to year-round regional leadership programs, to alumni convenings and Fellowships.