So, unless you’ve been hiding in the cave that everyone thought Osama bin Laden was hiding in, I’m sure you’ve heard the news that he was killed in a mansion outside of Islamabad, Pakistan. The reactions to this news have run the gamut from cheering and dancing in the streets to disgust at said cheering to a complete lack of interest. Shortly after word spread about bin Laden’s death, President Obama addressed the American public saying “his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.” I certainly won’t get into the politics of this situation here – but I will say that there are certainly proven ways of achieving peace. Starting that journey to peace with murder is highly improbable. I don’t suppose it’s impossible, but again – highly improbable.
So true to my international education, study abroad, intercultural experience form, I’d like to introduce you to Peacebuilding Youth Programs. These are not your average summer camps. At SIT, these teenagers typically come from post-conflict environments (or where conflict is still alive and well) to the U.S. are engaged in empowering intercultural experiences with teens they would never be able to speak with in there home country. For example, Greek and Turkish teens from Cyprus, Protestant and Catholic teens from Northern Ireland, and American and Iraqi teens share experiences here on campus where they build meaningful relationships with each other.
Not only do they build those relationships and become friends (something that never would have happened in their conflict-driven societies), but they also spend that time on campus learning skills such as conflict transformation and doing teambuilding exercises such as ropes courses. And I mean, these are teenagers in the summer time – so of course they have fun! To learn more about SIT’s Peacebuilding Programs, click here. Global Youth Village has an intensive Peacebuilding camp called Crossing Cultures that is open to American and International youth from various countries – find that information here. Seeds of Peace is yet another (but certainly not the last!) organization doing amazing Peacebuilding work with youth. Click here or check out the video below.
If you’re from Memphis, these programs are similar to Bridge Builders, but on a global scale.
If there’s ever going to be peace, we’ve got to start with the youth. These are also ways for U.S. teens to be immersed in intercultural experiences before they’ve even gotten a passport. Many of them are located right here in the U.S. but have just as many, if not more, international student participants as American participants. Here’s a video from the Early Show on CBS that features Seeds of Peace: