OTISFIELD, MAINE | Seeds of Peace is launching a sailing program for Middle Eastern and American youth. It will combine peace-building and conflict resolution with the profound experience of life at sea. This summer, Seas of Peace will bring 12-15 Israeli, Palestinian and American teenagers together on a sailing vessel on the coast of Maine. This pioneer session will run from July 9-30, 2011.
The first ten days of the program will be spent learning to sail small boats in Casco Bay, Maine, and the remaining time spent living aboard a traditional 140 ft. schooner, The Spirit of South Carolina.
During both parts of the program, the sailing Seeds will engage in dialogue about who they are and where they come from, undergo leadership training, and discuss how to continue working for peace back home. While living aboard Spirit of South Carolina, they will learn to sail this larger vessel, learn celestial navigation and chart plotting, stand watch, cook for each other, care for and maintain the vessel, and eventually—working together—take command of the vessel.
“In choosing such an isolated environment as a sailing boat, we are challenging the participants to truly engage with one another—offering them no choice with whom they interact,” says program co-founder Monica Balanoff. “Since few Seeds will know about halyards or capstans, everyone will start out on an equal playing field.”
As the Seeds work together to navigate, stand watch and learn the ropes, so to speak, bonds will be built and a sense of pride will inevitably emerge as they slowly become a cohesive crew.
Program co-founder David Nutt, who like Balanoff has worked at Seeds of Peace as a counselor, grew up sailing. Both Nutt and Balanoff have completed circumnavigations of the globe at early ages, Nutt with his family, and Balanoff with the high school semester at sea program Class Afloat.
In a qualitative study, students who participated in Class Afloat identified empathy, team-work, cultural awareness, and intellectual curiosity as the top learning outcomes accomplished. It is these same outcomes that we hope to facilitate.
The participants in Seas of Peace will be chosen from the pool of campers who apply to return to Seeds of Peace as second-year campers. This allows Seeds of Peace to offer more opportunities for dedicated campers to continue to work across borders. It also ensures Seas of Peace can choose participants who have shown continued commitment to the mission of Seeds of Peace.
Opening the program to Seeds of Peace alumnae guarantees that everyone will come to this new program with a common experience and a common commitment to the mission of Seeds of Peace. It also allows the participants to return home to the regional programming that Seeds of Peace offers in the Middle East and United States.
Through this program, the sailing Seeds will have the opportunity to prove to each other and the world that peace is an attainable reality.