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Seeds of Peace

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: International, International Peace & Security, Leadership Development, Promotion of International Understanding

Mission: Founded in 1993, Seeds of Peace is dedicated to empowering young leaders from regions of conflict with the leadership skills required to advance reconciliation and coexistence. Over the last decade, Seeds of Peace has intensified its impact, dramatically increasing the number of participants, represented nations and programs. From 46 Israeli, Palestinian and Egyptian teenagers in 1993, the organization still focuses on the Middle East but has expanded its programming to include young leaders from South Asia. Its leadership network now encompasses about 4,000 young people from several conflict regions. The Seeds of Peace internationally recognized program model begins at the International Camp in Maine and continues through follow-up programming with international youth conferences, regional workshops, educational and professional opportunities, and an adult educator program. This comprehensive system allows participants to develop empathy, respect, and confidence as well as leadership, communication and negotiation skills — all critical components that will facilitate peaceful coexistence for the next generation.

Results: Since 1993, roughly 4,0000 “Seeds” have graduated from our International Camp in Maine, and are now spreading the message of peace in their High Schools, Colleges and Universities and work places.

Target demographics: Young leaders between 14 and 17 years old from regions of conflict, specifically in the Middle East and South Asia. We also have a delegation of American “Seeds”. After attending International Camp in Maine, where young leaders learn the leadership skills required to advance reconciliation and co-existance, they go on to participate in follow-up programs, such as 3-4 days summits, conferences and regional camps.

Geographic areas served: United States, Middle East, South Asia

Programs: International camp: each summer in maine, hundreds of teenagers and educators engage with each other across lines of conflict-sharing meals, living spaces, and learning experiences in a traditional summer camp program. During daily dialogue sessions guided by professional facilitators, campers confront each other over competing historical narratives, share personal experiences of conflict, and tackle topics that fuel oppression, hatred, and violence in and between their communities. As participants form relationships and gain insights into the root issues that divide them, they build greater levels of trust, respect, and empathy, which inspire their commitment to work for change at home. In 2014, the organization hosted campers from the middle east (119 campers), south asia (36 campers), and the us (156 campers), as well as 21 educators.

middle east regional programs: after graduating from the seeds of peace camp, participants build on their experiences in maine through dozens of local leadership development programs. These year-round programs focus on four key assets and abilities we have identified as particularly valuable to emerging leaders engaged in effective peacebuilding: strong relationships across lines of conflict; a high level of understanding and perspective-taking on the issues that divide them; skills in critical thinking and communication; the ability to take action towards peace. Regional middle east programs in 2014 included: mediation and negotiation training for over 60 israelis and palestinians, in partnership with faculty from harvard law school; community dialogues for hundreds of youth related to religious pluralism, women's rights, youth leadership, and the pursuit of peace; a capacity-building program for educators; summer camps for children in the west bank and gaza.

program administration: provides program administration, evaluation and monitoring of program activities.

Community Stories

2 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

When I was 15, I went to Seeds of Peace, a leadership camp for teenagers in communities divided by conflict. I had 90 minutes of dialogue each day with Israelis, Palestinians, Egyptians, Jordanians, and other Americans. We yelled at each other about settlements, the right of return, the holocaust, and 1948. The rest of the day we played, ate, slept, and laughed together. It was the place I learned most about other cultures and perspectives. I started to question the things I thought were facts and gained the confidence to be a leader. I came back as a counselor in the summer of 2015 and I supported teenagers while they engaged in difficult conversations with people they might never have otherwise interacted with (Israelis and Palestinians; Pakistanis, Afghans, and Indians; teenagers from northern Maine and some of the Somali refugees who were living in Portland). I had spent a lot of time working on farms and at my college's garden, and after my first summer as a counselor I realized how much I wanted to share my passion for growing food with these campers. I applied for grants and raised enough money to build a large garden at camp, 24 4'x8' raised beds. I gathered a group of volunteers and we build, filled, and planted the beds. Then I spent the summer back as a counselor, gardening with the campers and delivering fresh vegetables to the dining hall. The campers really took ownership over the space. During their free time they would come by to weed, think, or snack. One dialogue group would harvest carrots together after their daily dialogues--it allowed for a reflective and communal moment after a difficult 90 minutes. It was the best form of giving back because I gained a ton. I learned so much from creating a space to grow food and talk about it, and I learned way more from watching the incredible campers engage with the garden.

Review from #MyGivingStory

1 Dan_2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Deep in the heart of Maine, the almost unknown little town of Otisfield just north of Portland, is transformed into an oasis, into a paradise of woods, water, and hills, that opens its arms to youth, not the traditional summer camp that busy parents send their kids to and call vacation, but a camp to which young adults come from the most explosive areas of the world.

For a short time Otisfield becomes home to Hundreds of young leaders, young adults from the most violent sectors of the world. Israeli Youths Play soccer with their Palestinian counterparts. Young Indians canoe with their Pakistani neighbors. Teens caught in the crossroads of decades of hostilities are brought together, to work together to play together and to search for answers together. South East Asian youth that have seen decades of war, Egyptian, Jordanian Afghan youth leaders come together with American Youth to break through cultures of explosive rage and violence, years of animosity and fighting, daily blood baths.

Young adults taught a language of hatred now for the first time can see their enemies up close, eye ball to eyeball, sharing breakfast, lunch, a marshmallow roast over a campfire, in competition not with guns and mortar but with racing, playing, running laughing and most of all a deep lesson that so many of us have yet to learn, that this planet has to be shared with those that do not share the same religion, the same nationality, the same race the same culture, the same politics that we have.

This small insignificant little town in Maine, plays perhaps the most significant role in global relationships. While the Halls of Parliaments’, and Congresses around the world, while the UN in its plush offices in Lower East Side, endlessly debate politics and economics, these children are learning it where it counts and how it counts.