NEW YORK | Seeds of Peace celebrated 21 years of empowering young leaders from conflict regions on May 8 in New York City.
The Spring Benefit Dinner honored journalist Fareed Zakaria, who received the John P. Wallach Peacemaker Award. Al Jazeera America anchor Ali Velshi hosted the event, held at 583 Park Avenue.
Secretary of State John Kerry opened the evening with a video message expressing his gratitude for the work of Seeds.
“Thanks to the work that you do, there are young people … who today express greater understanding, greater respect, greater trust, and greater empathy for one another. And not surprisingly, they also have a stronger commitment toward peace.”
Over 400 distinguished supporters, including the Palestinian and German Ambassadors to the United States, then heard directly from older Seeds about the impact they are making on their communities.
Sherife, a 2003 Egyptian Seed, spoke about the necessity of building peace. “Why bother trying to predict the future, when you can build it.”
Lior, a 1996 Israeli Seed who helps run the Palestinian-Israeli Peace NGO Forum, spoke about the impact of her Seeds of Peace experiences.
“Seeds of Peace was more than a fleeting experience for me—it was a turning point, an eye opener,” she said.
“It was the first brick upon which I have built my life journey, from a relatively uninvolved, sheltered—perhaps even naive—young girl, who went to Camp in Maine in 1996, to the peace activist I am today.”
A 2013 American Seed, Sydney, and a 2014 Palestinian Seed, Hussam, sang “Say Hello To the Field for Me,” a duet inspired by Rumi’s famous quote and first performed by them at the Seeds of Camp last summer.
Zakaria, who hosts CNN’s flagship foreign affairs show, spoke about people-led movements shaping the world.
“[W]hat is happening is happening because of the diffusion of knowledge, the march of technology and modernization, and a new generation that is being influenced by all of these things,” he said.
“And what is Seeds of Peace if not at the center of that entire process, trying to get this new generation to be empowered, to talk to one another, and to recognize that there is an enormous amount of commonality …”
VIDEO: SECRETARY KERRY, ALI VELSHI, FAREED ZAKARIA & SEEDS
PHOTOGRAPHS: 2014 SPRING BENEFIT DINNER