One Relationship at a Time

6 Oct

I was on vacation last week and had more time to watch the news than usual. Gosh, it’s so hard to watch the news sometimes. So much strife going on in the world.

So, I thought it was time to write about a wonderful project that works on planting ‘seeds of peace.’

soplogoSeeds of Peace is a non-profit organization dedicated to the pursuit of lasting peace in regions of conflict. Their Twitter description captures their mission in a nutshell: Seeds of Peace inspires and equips new generations of leaders from regions of conflict with the relationships, understanding, and skills needed to advance peace.

Since 1993, Seeds of Peace has provided exceptional young people (age 14-16) and educators from regions of conflict with an otherwise impossible opportunity to meet their historic enemies face-to-face at an International Camp in Maine. There, these young people have what are called ‘dialogue sessions’ for about 2 hours a day.

During dialogue, campers from different sides of a conflict meet with professional facilitators to delve into the hardest issues of the conflict honestly, openly and directly. In the process, they challenge inherited stereotypes and prejudices with real stories and experiences.

So, for example, Israeli and Arab campers share a living space and participate in their dialogue sessions together.

Here is a wonderful video of a project that Pakistani and Indian campers worked on. I love when they talk about having completely different perspectives of the same incidents. And how it became easier to listen.  It just warms a mediator’s heart.

The New York Times featured this program in a recent review “Peace Through Friendship” and reported, “Perhaps our most striking finding was that regardless of their initial attitudes, the campers who were able to form just one close relationship with someone from the other group were the ones who developed the most positive attitudes toward the other group.”

I added the emphasis. Why? Because it reinforces my belief that our world can be improved … one relationship at a time.


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