As the national conversation turns to racism, xenophobia, interreligious tension, fear, and prejudice, Seeds of Peace is expanding its dialogue and leadership development program with the goal of building more inclusive schools and communities across the United States.
Beginning with a transformative two-week experience at the Seeds of Peace Camp in Maine, students, referred to as “Seeds” in our community, will have the opportunity to engage in a dynamic program that fosters self-reflection, self-growth, and deep learning that allows them to acknowledge and move beyond the stereotypes, prejudices, and mistrust of others and difference that can exist in their home communities.
Our model includes a shared living environment of support and openness in which Seeds have the opportunity to form strong, authentic relationships; daily facilitated dialogue sessions that explore concepts of identity, culture, power and privilege, and community, that analyze stereotypes and misperceptions, and that teach leadership skills they can use to engage their peers; and group challenge activities designed for team-building, cooperation, and communication.
The unique relationships and experiences that the Seeds build at Camp will help them to bridge divides between groups in their schools and communities. Working in partnership with schools, the year-round Expanded US Program empowers Seeds to engage their peers and teachers in educational and outreach initiatives that reduce bias, tensions, and segregation within the school by promoting cross-cultural and religious understanding, by increasing awareness of racial and social justice, and by fostering direct interaction between diverse groups of students—all with the aim of creating safer and more inclusive spaces in our schools.
Beyond transforming school cultures, the program aims to develop civic leadership skills by connecting Seeds to key community leaders, educational administrators, and policy-makers and deepening their understanding of issues arising from changing demographics, racial and ethnic diversity, and socio-economic difference.