|Planting seeds of
Dexter High seniors promote program Tuesday, May 13, 2008
By Aimee Dolloff of the Bangor Daily News: A group of students from
Dexter Regional High School spoke highly Monday morning of a program that started in Maine and is working to create peace
and solutions among young leaders worldwide.
The four Dexter seniors participated last summer in Seeds of Peace, a three-week international camp based in Maine
thatís dedicated to empowering young leaders from regions of conflict with the leadership skills required to improve
relationships and create peaceful coexistence.
The students spoke Monday at Bangor Public Library as part of the Bangor Foreign Policy Forum with guest speaker Tim
Wilson, senior adviser and director of alumni affairs and director emeritus of Seeds of Peace International Camp.
The Seeds of Peace program model begins at the International Camp in Maine and continues through follow-up
programming with international youth conferences, regional workshops, educational and professional opportunities, and an
adult educator program.
Wilson has lived in some of these regions of conflict, and was in East Jerusalem from 2003 to 2006. He has seen firsthand
the violence and tension, but explained Monday that the mission of Seeds of Peace is becoming a reality with some of the
original participants of the program that started in 1993 now holding leadership positions.
For example, the chief negotiation teams from Israel and the occupied territories each include what Wilson calls "seeds," or
former camp participants.
Living, socializing and talking together at the camp allows youth from various and often conflicting regions to develop
empathy, respect and confidence as well as leadership, communication and negotiation skills that will facilitate peaceful
coexistence for the next generation.
"We really got to understand the problems that the Middle Eastern kids were facing," said Dexter High senior Gavin Cote,
He added that it was difficult for the youth from war-torn countries such as Israel and the occupied territories to
understand the problems the Maine campers were discussing, such as wealth distribution and education disparity in the state.
"We appreciate what we have here in Maine and the United States even more," Cote said. "You stop worrying about
things that donít matter as much."
The students, who said they made lifelong friends through the experience, agreed that what they learned at camp is
something theyíll carry with them for the rest of their lives.
"There is no way for anyone to teach you what theyíre actually going through," said Jana Kenney, 18, of Dexter. "You
canít be taught what you learn at camp."
The students also said media reports should be taken with a grain of salt.
"I learned real quick that you canít necessarily believe whatís on the news or in the paper," Kenney said.
The Maine group admitted that they were very ignorant about the situation in the Middle East, and were surprised to learn
how interested the Middle East campers were in politics in the United States.
"Itís not really good for kids from other countries to know more about your presidential elections than the people who are
going to be able to vote," said Rebecca Fick, 18, of Garland.
Although each student is set to pursue a different career path, they all have one thing in common.
Tim Wilson, director of the Seeds of Peace International Camp for children from nations in conflict, talks in his office in
Otisfield, Maine, in this Aug. 14, 2005, file photo. Smith is retiring after serving Seeds of Peace in various capacities since the
camp opened in 1993. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty,file)
Seeds of Peace camp director Tim Wilson speaks with a camp counselor over a two-way radio as he patrols the camp in
Otisfield on Thursday. The camp is dedicated to bringing together teenagers from regions where cultures and idealogoies clash.
(AP Photo/Shawn Patrick Ouellette)
All four said that their time at camp would continue to be a force in their lives and has helped them understand why it's
important to begin talking now about what they want the future to be like.
Mindy Harding, 17, of Dexter wants to major in Spanish and help underdeveloped countries; Cote plans to be a sports
information director and wants to be a Seeds of Peace camp counselor; Kenney wants to become a physician and assist areas
where medicine isn't a priority; and Fick plans to earn her master's degree and go on to work for Seeds of Peace and then the
"In order to have real peace you need to start with yourselves," Fick said. "By the end of camp, it didn't really matter
where you were from Ö we all came together like family."
"This content originally appeared as a copyrighted article in
the Tuesday, May 13, 2008 edition of the Bangor Daily NEWS and is used here with permission."