In the wake of this weekend’s murder of two imams in New York City, Muslims across the country are feeling the rise in tension.
In a small, green hut, nestled in the pristine woods of Otisfield, Maine, Ekhlas Ahmed leads an interactive group warm up for a cohort of 16 high school students.
For nearly 25 years Seeds of Peace has brought together young people from the Middle East in an effort to build friendships that transcend conflict. This year, the New York-based program launched a pilot program that brings together young people from Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. Illinois Public Radio’s Brian O’Keefe spoke with Leslie Lewin, Executive Director of Seeds of Peace.
Leslie Lewin is Executive Director of Seeds of Peace. The organization launched a pilot program this year that brings young people from Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles to its camp in Maine.
OTISFIELD, Maine | The nation’s divide has become bad enough that a camp created to help Arab and Israeli teens find common ground is putting an emphasis on hatred and violence in the U.S.
Officials at Seeds of Peace, a lakeside camp in the woods of Maine, thought things were bad when they made their decision to hold the special pilot program. Then came racial discord over police shootings and divisive political rhetoric.
KABUL | Forty Afghan Seeds and students from 14 high schools across Kabul took part in a seminar on “Media and Peace” at the Jahan-e-Noor Institute of Higher Education on June 30.
The session began with a lecture and dialogue session on the topic by Abu Muslim Shirzad, the lead anchor for Tolo News political programs and president of the Jahan-e-Noor Institute of Higher Education.
OTISFIELD, MAINE | As national attention increasingly focuses on divisions in and between communities across the United States, Seeds of Peace is launching a new program to bring together a diverse cohort of exceptional youth from cities around the country. This new United States program will include youth from Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and Syracuse, New York.
The program, which begins August 3 at the Seeds of Peace Camp in Maine, builds on 16 years of Seeds of Peace’s work with over 600 young leaders from Maine who are a leading voice for dialogue, inclusion, and equity in schools and communities across the state.
The 120 campers will take part in an identity-based dialogue program focused on race, religion, economic and educational disparity and other sources of prejudice and discrimination.
Daily 110-minute dialogue sessions, led by professional facilitators, will explore the concepts of identity, culture, power and privilege while fostering self-reflection and self-growth.
The program is designed to help campers move beyond the stereotypes, prejudices and mistrust, and prepare them to address issues that impact their peers, schools, and communities. After the summer, participants in the program will join a network of 6,000 Seeds of Peace alumni around the world and will have opportunities to continue developing their leadership skills and to apply what they’ve learned to help bridge divides in their schools and communities.
Press interested in learning more about the program should contact Eric Kapenga at email@example.com.
About Seeds of Peace
Seeds of Peace inspires and cultivates new generations of global leaders in communities divided by conflict.
We equip them with the skills and relationships they need to accelerate social, economic, and political changes essential for peace.
Seeds of Peace’s approach focuses on three types of change: personal and interpersonal transformation, and wider societal change.
Our leadership development model begins with a transformational camp session in Maine for exceptional young people and educators living in conflict. The program shifts attitudes and perceptions and builds respect and empathy.
Our approach continues through year-round local programs that strengthen relationships and leadership capacities.
We then accelerate the impact of our alumni who are challenging the ideologies, policies, and practices that perpetuate conflict.
Our network now encompasses over 6,000 alumni throughout the Middle East, South Asia, Europe, and the United States who are uniquely positioned to lead change.
VAN BUREN, MAINE | More than 20 adult delegates and staff from Seeds of Peace traveled to Van Buren this month in order to gain a better perspective of Maine and each other.
Seeds of Peace brings together teenagers from opposing sides of conflict zones around the world. The visiting adult delegates, who traveled from places such as Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Palestine, are part of the Seeds of Peace program in their respective countries and help select and prepare teens for participation in the Seeds of Peace camp programs.
OTISFIELD, MAINE | The recipient of the 2016 President George H.W. Bush Seeds of Peace Camp scholarship met with the 41st President this summer.
Shahd, a Palestinian camper from Hebron and 2016 Bush scholarship recipient, spent a morning with the President at his home in Kennebunkport. She was accompanied by one of her Israeli bunkmates and by Seeds of Peace Executive Director Leslie Lewin.
The George H.W. Bush Camper Scholarship was established in 2014 by Seeds of Peace supporter Tim Harrington in honor of the President’s 90th birthday. Since 2014, three campers have received the award.
Shahd, who plans to study law and diplomacy, had a chance to express her appreciation to both President Bush and Harrington.
“Receiving the scholarship broke a major financial obstacle for my family to send me to Camp,” she said. “I would like to sincerely thank you, on behalf of myself and my family.”
Lewin expressed her gratitude to Harrington for choosing to honor the President in such a meaningful way, and for providing a unique opportunity for a promising young leader.