Looking for a Silver Lining in the Israel-Palestinian Conflict

by tuftsigl
Aug 06
Katie Saviano is in the class of 2017, majoring in international relations and Arabic.
In light of current world events, interning at Seeds of Peace has been an extremely relevant experience. Seeds of Peace is an international NGO focused on peace building in the Middle East and South Asia with staff in Amman, Gaza, Jerusalem, Kabul, Lahore, Mumbai, Otisfield, Ramallah, and Tel Aviv. This summer, I have spent the past eight weeks in the NY office, which is the organization’s headquarters. 
Seeds of Peace is well known for their international camp in Maine, which brings together young people from different sides of conflict for a three week summer camp which combines all the trappings of an idyllic summer camp experience (kayaking, swimming, campfires, mess hall dining) with a rigorous dialogue program. However, I’ve been working on a different aspect of Seeds of Peace as a Programming Intern. My focus isn’t the camp itself, but what comes after the experience. At this point, Seeds has over 5,000 alumni scattered around the world, many of whom have reached positions of leadership and are committed to enacting change in their communities. For Seeds of Peace, camp is an entry point into the organization, paving the way for years of involvement in Seeds of Peace’s regional programs. The idea is to keep the momentum going. 
My focus this summer has been GATHER, an inaugural Seeds of Peace summit this October in Jordan.  The hope is that by creating a space where alumni and other change makers can connect and exchange ideas, their voices will be amplified across the region. As a programming intern, I’ve been directly involved with shaping the summit - reading applications of those who’ve applied, creating the arc of the conference and hashing out all of the details. 
The Seeds of Peace office is a dynamic place to spend the summer. The staff is an engaging international group and there is a wonderful sense of community here. The intern program is well structured and every week we have lunches with different members of the staff. These interactions provide us with a greater perspective of what key employees do for the organization, as well as their career paths that led them to Seeds of Peace. Finally, it is critically important to note that Seeds of Peace is not a political organization. That vital characteristic means that the organization will not take a stand on the current situation in Israel and in Gaza. Its role is to encourage collaboration and honest dialogue. Politicians make treaties, but peace is forged by people. During these last few weeks, as violence in the region has accelerated at an increasingly alarming pace, the Seeds of Peace staff members have remained hopeful. I am thrilled to be a small part of this engaging and inspiring organization. 

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