Friday, August 10, 2018

What I learned about “The Way Life Could Be - Seeds of Peace” informational meeting by Caryl Gilman

"To inspire and cultivate new generations of global leaders in communities divided by conflict and to equip those young leaders with the skills and relationships they need to accelerate social, economic, and political changes essential for peace,” is the mission statement of Seeds of Peace. Seeds of Peace is a leadership development organization that began in 1993 with one youth camp locaton in Otisfield, Maine. 

On Tuesday, July 31, Orlando Arellano, Team Leader Multinational Programs and Strategy, spoke at
Raymond Village Community Church about Seeds of Peace. I am a member of the Raymond Village Community Church and I had asked Seeds of Peace to send a speaker who could tell the Raymond, Casco and Windham communities how Seeds of Peace successfully transforms individual perspectives during camp.

The presentation was sponsored by Raymond Village Community Church, Raymond Arts Alliance and Raymond Village Library. During the presentation, I learned that the process of individual transformation begins at Seeds of Peace camp in Otisfield, Maine. After graduating from the camp, participants build on their experiences through over a hundred local/regional leadership development initiatives.

What interested me the most was the beginning of the process: Seeds of Peace camp. Interested participants go through a rigorous selection process, and once selected, participants then attend camp in groups or delegations. 
At camp, which is a new type of experience for most, they are asked to set aside technology and live in close contact with people they don’t know.

The key activity is dialogue facilitated by professional facilitators, many of whom are Seeds of Peace graduates. Dialogue requires listening and speaking from the “I” perspective, not just about “what” but also about the “why” and feelings about their own story and what they are hearing.
The camp participants are asked to “lean in” when uncomfortable as there is much to be learned.
One thought I had was that it seemed like a lot of work to me and could not happen unless participants feel safe and that they can trust each other. 

Seeds of Peace camp aims to help participants feel welcome by serving food they can eat (e.g. kosher or halal) and offering a variety of religious services. They build trust through dialogue and through group activities.

Arellano helped me better understand the camp experience and related his own experiences at camp that continues his own learning. 

I admire the organization and the people involved.

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