Archive for the ‘Strength’ Category


I am not pro-war and when asked by people who are, well how can we stop it, if we don’t we will be attacked by terrorist. The answer is in getting to the root of the problem, the way the mind thinks. The article below is about an unbelievable organization called Seeds of Peace, working towards change. I contacted the magazine this came from (it is taken from Science of Mind Magazine, October 2007 edition), to find out if I could get an electronic copy sent to me and they said the don’t do that, so I am copying it word for word.
The Seeds of Peace Take Root

We are warriors of hope,
We are masters of understanding,
We are pioneers of respect,We are soldiers of trust,
We are leaders of tommorrow,
We are Seeds of Peace.

It all began with a small summer camp. Fourteen years ago, in the woods of western Maine, the seeds of hope were planted. It was here that forty-six young Israeli and Arab teens were offered an unprecedented opportunity to break the cycle of violence and work together to bring peace to a world of war and conflict. Motivated by the bombing of the World Trade Center earlier that year, John Wallach, a seasoned journalist with two decades of experinece in the Middle East, enlisted the support of Israel, Egypt, and Palestine in bringing young people from all three countries together, on neutral soil, in the United States. Putting a human face on the enemy, he believed, he could pave the way to compassion, trust and understanding.

In August of 1993, The Seeds of Peace Camp for Conflict Resolution welcomed its first campers. Just a few weeks later, on September 14, at the invitation of President Clinton, these young people from opposing “sides” stood together as wintesses to the signing of the Oslo Declaration of Principles. Fourteen years and thirty-four hundred campers later, Seeds of Peace stands as an inspiring example of the power of vision and the transformation of hate into hope.

The “Seeds” have taken root and now each summer, some four hundred-fifty campers from the most war-torn areas in the world gather in rural Maine to attempt to do what governments can’t: create peace and understanding one person at a time. They come as representatives of their individual countries, prepared to debate, defend and discuss their position with those they have come to view as the enemy. The delegations that arrive in camp are comprised of the brightest and best their respective countries have to offer. Hand picked by their governments through a highly competitive application process, these youthful delegates are accomplished and motivated.

The Maine program, which is the cornerstone upon which all Seeds programs are built, affords campers the opportunity to create a new model of community and coexistence.

In many ways this camp experience is strikingly ordinary–days are filled with swimmng, sports, arts, crafts, music, drama and a variety of group activities.

But in very significant ways, is also anything but ordinary. This camp isn’t just about basketball and boating. There’s plenty of that, of course, but there’s also a great deal of work to be done.

Founder Wallach once described the experience as a “detox” program where participants have the opportunity to get rid of hatred before it has the chance to poison their minds and trap them in another cycle of self-destructive conflict. Professionally facilitated, intense daily dialogues allow campers to share their fears, frustrations and hopes for the future. Historical biases are aired, individual perspectives are examined and current conflicts are discussed. They hear each other’s personal stories and learn that they share common experiences.

Group challenges, both physical and psychological, unite participants through cooperation and shared success.

Even the simplest activities such as living and dining with each other provide opportunities for bonding and sharing that campers could not experience in any other setting. Intentionally grouped by conflict areas, the teens bunk together with others from their region: for example Israeli youth share accomodations with Palestinian and Arab youth.

Bobbie Gottschalk, cofounder of Seeds of Peace, explains, “When we bring these teens to the United States to be in a camp setting with people from the other side, they start putting a face on those people; they’re looking them in the eye and relating to them. Normally, you would only be in that kind of setting if you were friends or relatives–you would not sleep right next to your enemy, nor would you ever sit and eat at the table with them or play games on the field–those are the things you do with your family or your friends.”

Although some of these young people from the Middle East may live only a mile away from each other, she explains, they would never have contact; their differing political and religious views would make interaction impossible. They would remain physically seperated by stereotypes about each other–judgements handed down from generation to generation based on perceived histories of the war.

She continues, “There’s a comfort level that people find even in the most stressful war situations. There’s a comfort level with just being with your ‘own kind’ and being against ‘the other kind.’ You don’t have to think very much–it’s ingrained.” Drawing campers out of that comfortable position is the goal of these sessions.

After watching campers over the years, there is no doubt in Gottschalk’s mind that these teens leave camp profoundly changed. And the impetus for that change comes not only from camp programs, but also from fellow campers whose stories of courage and determination serve as powerful inspiration for their peers.

Gottshalk’s cites, as an example, the emotional journey of one of young Seeds graduate, a Palestinian youth from the Gaza Strip. In 2000, when the second Intifada broke out, she explains the Israeli army took over the house Yusuf was living in. His father refused to allow the army to destroy the family home and insisted that they be allowed to stay. The soldiers moved in, occupying the top floors of the home while the family of seven was relegated to living in one room on the main floor. Family members are required to get permission to use the kitchen and the bathroom and were always accompanied by a soldier. In February of 2004, United Nations representatives were granted clearance to meet with the family. After a short visit, Yusuf and his father walked the workers to the front gate. As they were saying their good-byes, a soldier from the upper floor shot the fifteen year old Yusuf in the back. Paralyzed, and with a bullet lodged in his spine, Yusuf was transported to a hospital in Israel. There he received the medical attention he needed to enable him to walk again. However, they were unable to remove the bullet and he lives each day in constant pain. And yet, she says when people ask him how he feels about Israelis, Yusuf explains that only one Israeli shot him and dozens of Israelis helped him regain his life.

In the summer of 2005, Yusuf was invited to the Seeds of Peace Camp where he interacted daily with both Palestinian and Israeli youth. Upon his return to Gaza, he gifted one of the soldiers still living in his home with a green Seeds of Peace T-shirt. “It’s a powerful story,” says Gottschalk, “but all the stories are like that.”

The campers, she says are bright, talented, and motivated. And, upon graduation, they reintegrate into their own societies with a new perspective. Some return to their countries knowing that military duty awaits them; the reality of war cannot be ignored. Providing continuing support for Seeds graduates after returning home is an integral part of the Seeds of Peace Program. Follow up programs are in place in all the conflict areas, represented by the campers. In the Middle East, for example, two hundred Israeli and Palestinian Seeds participate in an Advanced Coexistence program which offers them an opportunity to meet on a weekly basis at different locations in Israel–on both sides of Jerusalem as well as the West Bank.

The Seeds program has reached beyond the Middle East into dozens of conflict areas all over the world, including India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Cypress and the Balkans among others. Workshops, conferences and bi-communal projects are among the many ways graduates are able to stay connected with the Seeds community and build on the camp experience. “We don’t just have a camp, Gottschalk points out, “we have year-round on -the ground services to anybody who’s ever been to Seeds of Peace.”

The organization’s current direction, however, may be one of returning to its roots. As a stand-alone organization that relies primarily on private funding, becoming overextended can become an issue, she says.”

We got into the whirlpool of trying to do more and more each year,” Gottschalk explains. “Part of growing up as an organization is recognizing where your strengths are and where you should be putting your effort.”

Although Seeds will continue to support their other programs, the focus will be shifting back to the Middle East and South Asia. There is still so much work to do there she says.

The influence of Seeds of Peace on the youth of war-torn areas has not gone unnoticed. The group received a Congressional Letter of Support in 2005 which read in part, “We are at a moment in time where we have an opportunity to move towards peace in the Middle East, and we must move forward expeditiously…We are strong supporters of Seeds of Peace because we believe that peace will ultimately depend upon breaking down barriers and mistrust among people from these regions of conflict. Governments negotiate agreements; only people can define the quality of peace.”

The Seeds of Peace vision of “empowering leaders of the next generation,” continues to unfold. Gottschalks’s desire for the program, in terms of outcome, she says, is “to have a number of Seeds in positions of influence in their society…I am hoping that the next generation of leaders will have enough people trained in Seeds of Peace to turn things more in the direction of wanting to understand the other side wanting to live in a cooperative relationship with neighboring countries.”

Even though the oldest of Seeds graduates is now only in his or her twenties, they have already begun to have an impact. Gottschalk tries to keep track of program’s graduates after they return home. Although most of them are still very young, she is encouraged: “I would say that a number have gone on to beginning-level jobs working in their embassies or working for the United Nations or the World Bank or other global organizations. I know one Israeli who is finishing law school and will soon be clearing for a Supreme Court Justice.”

She also speaks glowingly of a yong Israeli woman, now in her mid-twenties, who began as a Seed in 1995. Her years following th camp experience included work with a number of human rights organizations, two years at United World Colleges in India, a stint in the army patrolling the Lebanese border and, ultimately, obtaining a master’s degree from Georgetown University. “She is now working for a worldwide public relations firm,” Gottschalk relates.

American Seeds graduates have also begun to emerge as powerful voices for the next generation of peacemakers. Jennifer Miller brings the Seeds story to readers all over the world through her book, Inheriting the Holy Land. Miller’s work chronicles her six month stay in the Middle East as she follows up with her former Israeli and Palestinian Seeds now back in their homelands. The book, which won the 2005 Moment Magazine Book Award for Young Writers, has garnered praise from Madeline Albright and the Washington Post, among others.

Gottschalk believes we have only just begun to see the impact of Seeds graduates on the world landscape. With time, she says, these young people will emerge as the leaders of the next generation–leaders motivated to work for peace. In the meantime, Seeds of Peace continues its work of bringing nations together one camper at a time.

To learn more about Seeds of Peace visit www.seedsofpeace.org


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So many messages we are given, but do we listen to the most important one…that small little voice within our head. These are my thoughts about it put in poetry form.


    Girl goes to a dance alone,
    She is thought of as a loser,
    Women sings lyrics about her anger
    Of a cheating lover,
    She is labeled a bitch.
    Woman over 40,
    Posts an ad ,
    For true love only,
    Told no man will want her,
    Her eggs are all dried up.
    Tales told,
    are old,
    Time to let them go.
    Hear the words of those,
    Who have been there.
    It is okay to yell,
    It is okay to dare,
    to love,
    To love another,
    Dream of a being a mother.
    Stand on a dance floor,
    Shake your groove,
    Make a move,
    To Dare to be bold.
    This story is yours,
    Make it the one,
    You want to be told.
    Let go ,
    Of the book,
    That they have given,
    The media,
    The Voices,
    The Ones who make the choices,
    To bring you down,
    To the level they live in.
    It is your time to believe in,
    Stories they never told.

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