18 Israeli, Palestinian & American teens to sail tall ship into New York Harbor
Seas of Peace is bringing together Middle Eastern and American youth for a summer of sailing and conflict resolution training. As they sail nearly 1,000 miles, these young people must work together across the borders of war to arrive safely in the next port.
NEW YORK | Eighteen young Israeli, Palestinian and American youth leaders from Seeds of Peace will sail a 125-foot tall ship into New York Harbor on July 9 as part of the ground-breaking Seas of Peace sailing and conflict resolution program.
Started in 2011, Seas of Peace uses sail training and the secluded nature of life at sea to foster empathy, teamwork, cultural awareness, and intellectual curiosity among youth from Israel, Palestine and the United States.
“Seeing the program become a reality has been incredibly rewarding,” says Seas of Peace Co-Founder Monica Balanoff, age 24. “More importantly, those who participated in Seas of Peace have described the program as the experience of a lifetime that has the power to change the lives and minds of many.”
During their time at Seas of Peace, the students discuss who they are, where they come from, and how conflict has affected their lives.
“In choosing an environment as isolated as a sailing ship,” says Co-Founder David Nutt, age 25, “the program challenges the students to truly engage with one another, offering them no choice with whom they interact. These interactions are essential to understanding and feeling understood.”
This summer, the teens will crew Ocean Classroom Foundation’s Spirit of Massachusetts from Portland, Maine, to Newport, Rhode Island, and then to New York City before heading northeast to end in Boston.
“To go a mile in someone else’s shoes teaches empathy,” says Nutt. “Our students sail 1,000 miles together. By the end of the voyage we are family.”
“At the end of my experience at Seas, I remarked to my facilitators that I felt there was an important difference between a completed voyage and a successful one,” said one of last summer’s participants.
“It was the difference between the [ship] carrying 15 kids into Boston, and The Spirit being sailed by 15 Seeds into Boston. And for anyone who has not sailed on a schooner, it is no easy task. It requires unwavering trust in others, the ability to lead when it is required, and the maturity to follow.”
Both Nutt and Balanoff completed circumnavigations in sailboats at early ages. Nutt grew up sailing in his home state of Maine and spent six years circumnavigating with his family during his teenage years. Balanoff began sailing as a teenager. She completed a circumnavigation at age 17 with the high school program Class Afloat.
“Politicians might make treaties, but it is people who make peace,” says Balanoff. “Seas of Peace offers hope and a sense of possibility for a generation that will soon be leading their respective countries.”