PORTLAND, MAINE | On March 29, Maine Seeds from five Portland High Schools held an open dialogue session at the Portland Public Library to address pressing issues they face in their schools. These ranged from problems with the English Language Learners programs (ELL), tension between the differing global and national perspectives in school culture, and LGBTQ bullying, and stereotyping by both students and teachers.
The dialogue session was student-led, empowering the teenagers to find solutions together. Ideas generated during the solution-seeking brainstorm session include using televising world news throughout the school so as to raise awareness about international issues, establishing more apparent LGBTQ Safe Zones, and expressing their concerns to politicians regarding flaws in the ELL programs in Maine.
The spirit of community continued into the afternoon, as Seeds moved from the library dialogue to South Portland High School, where they saw a musical and supported the two Seeds who played in it.
“We were all very impressed by the production,” said organizer Erica Zane. “It was a great example of how public schools can provide positive opportunities for students.”
Students across Maine have been part of Seeds of Peace since 2000, with tailored programming focused on local intercommunal tensions. With a high concentration of Seeds in Portland, and numerous opportunities for others across the state to come together, Maine Seeds stay connected post-camp through educational, fun, and meaningful encounters.