I have been active in the organization Seeds of Peace for the last 3 years. I believe its cause is one of the most important ones we face today-peace in the Middle East.
Seeds of Peace is an organization that runs a camp in Maine which brings in delegates from Jordan, Egypt, Palestine, United States, and Israel. These delegates are hand chosen and go through a long and rough process of interviews, essays, and other application processes to ensure that the camp receives only the brightest and greatest campers. Ranging from ages 14 through 17, these campers are stripped of their nationalities when they set foot onto camp grounds. Everyone is completely mixed up in bunks and meal tables and activity groups. The camp has normal daily activities except for two hour dialogue sessions where the campers have an opurtunity to discuss the issues going on in the Middle East. These sessions are known as their Coexistence Program:
"Led by a team of professional facilitators, the daily dialogue sessions constitute the core of the Seeds of Peace Summer Program. As an integral part of the overall camp experience, the dialogue sessions are designed to support the teenagers in building relationships based on honesty, understanding and respect. It is here that the youngsters are given an opportunity to link their new camp experience to the values and relationships that defined their world before Seeds of Peace. At the same time, these sessions provide the teens with a venue to express their thoughts and feelings about the conflict and the many ways in which it affects their lives. Creating a safe space, the facilitators allow for the development of a deeper understanding of and compassion for 'the other.' The dialogue sessions are designed to create opportunities for the youngsters to discuss the harder and more contentious issues and to learn the communication skills necessary to do so in a productive and meaningful way. In the process, the teenagers are encouraged to expand their capacity for critical reflection and deepen their understanding of each other and of the conflict. The youngsters thus develop a trusted peer group with whom they can recount painful memories, express pent up anger and frustration and search together for answers and new solutions to old problems."
Some may say this is crazy, and I would have to agree with them, but it is the most remarkable experience one could ever witness.
Even if you are not a camper, this is a fabulous organization to get involved in-especially those in SMPA with Policom majors! One of their main offices is located here in Washington, D.C. and they are always looking for people to help out with fundraising events and other things to help the organization flourish. I have helped out a bunch of times and they were all great a success.
This week, on Wednesday, Seeds of Peace is having a "Seeds Day" on Capitol Hill to honor their 15th Anniversary. The day is full of meetings with congressional staff members and a reception in the Longworth Building. Although you must be previously involved in Seeds to attend, it is just one of many that make this organization as well recognized and remarkable as it is! So please, feel free to get involved in any way you can-whether it is through interning or applying for a job in their office, applying to be a counselor at camp (which I HIGHLY reccomend!), or just donating a few dollars to improve the camp.
Here is a video of the session of camp I was on. We have to wear our seeds shirts every single day of camp. During meals, we would play a hand game called "bang, bang, clap" while we waited for the head staff member to recite the Seeds "before meal" thank you.