Testimonials

My Experience at Peace Camp
by an MEPC Counselor
I always wondered what Jews and Israelis thought about what is happening in Palestine and Israel. How do they feel? Are they torn inside like I am? I had the opportunity to find out at the Middle East Peace Camp. As a counselor, it was comforting and reassuring to see the children playing together. They interacted simply as children, not as Arabs and Jews. Their ability to accept each other as “Omar” and “Benjamin” rather than “Omar the Palestinian” and “Benjamin the Israeli” were a lesson to others who struggle or fail to see beyond stereotypical labels societal and cultural pressures put on us.
For counselors such as myself it was a more educational experience. We had opportunities to discuss issues and listen to each other, which is something many simply cannot do in these times. I was somewhat surprised from I heard. We all felt for each other, and we all wanted a fair and reasonable solution to the problems in the Middle East. Although they may not grasp the magnitude of what they have helped create now, this is an important first step to exposing children to the realities of the world. This experience will open their eyes to new ideas, thoughts, and people they may not have had access to previously.
If this camp were to continue on the path it is now, it will help shape the next generation of individuals who will be given the responsibility of helping solve these huge problems. The Middle East Peace Camp was an enlightening, satisfying, and hopeful experience that I hope to be involved in again. My hopes are that I may expose others to the same gratifying feelings that I took away from it.
Testimonials
My Experience at Peace Camp
by an MEPC Counselor
 
This experience has made me much more aware of both Middle Eastern politics and ways that I can help here in Seattle to create relationships between Arabs and Jews.  This camp is more than a summer program it is a community.  I came here when I was a teenager, but I would have loved to come earlier to this wonderful place!
9/11 and Middle East Peace Camp
by an MEPC Founder
Looking back over the last 10 years, it still gives me chills to think about the sad and wonderful ways my life changed as a result of such a horrific event
A month after 9/11, I was sitting in long-time Seattle civic activist Kay Bullitt’s living room for a Middle East Dialogue with other concerned folks. We expressed anger, concern, fears, and action plans.
As a progressive Jew, I wondered what I could do that involved children, not because they should carry the burden of cleaning up the world we gave them, but rather, because they are a natural social investment that easily brings teens and adults together.
By early April, a group of mothers met to plan a summer program to bring Arab, Jewish, and other children together. We imagined a new “normal”: growing up with the “other” and breaking down the barriers that make the “other” a monster. By knowing each other, we would create a place to see the humanity in each. Our children would not be able to hide behind ignorance as many of us had.
In July 2002, we held a one week day camp in Kay’s spacious yard. It was thrilling to see the number who joined us as counselors, project leaders and volunteers. We were also anxious about hatemongers. The police were notified; the media was cautioned: no coverage until camp is over. The campers and counselors were our responsibility and we worried about their safety.
That week was more than I could have imagined. Camp was jammed with activities to include all the interested adults and teens. The children played soccer, gymnastics, and volleyball. White canopies dotted the yard for arts and crafts, board games, science, storytelling, dance, cooking, cultural sharing, music, peace cities, henna and hospitality. Camp began and ended with circle time—a chance to reflect on the day.
We didn’t think about what would come next, but as the week was coming to an end the campers and the counselors did and were already planning for year two. The organizing mothers hadn’t thought beyond the first year, but we were eager to come back.
This past July, Middle East Peace Camp celebrated its tenth year. We have seen incredible growth. The campers grew up and became counselors in training; the CITs became counselors and then leaders in training and finally leaders. What is amazing is that we accomplished so much more than we anticipated. Our cultures are permanently intertwined and we are much better people as a result. I am very proud of how our children, teens and adults worked hard and accomplished such success, confidence, love and fun! I’m particularly proud of the teens and young adults who have taken a leadership or organizational role in MEPC.
From the ashes of hate of 9/11, the MEPC community has risen and created a new reality of understanding, friendship and love. For that, my life is changed forever.
Testimonal
by an MEPC Counselor
Ah, Peace Camp. There are few places that can build relationships capable of eliciting a decade’s worth of devotion in an extremely short period of time: a single week. This is one of them.
Testimonal
by an MEPC Counselor
We have shared joyful times, but more importantly kept each other’s gaze through the frightening.  There is the warmth of returning each summer that sustains the hard work.  It is easier to act out of hope and easier to have hope when you watch children grow strong, passionate, and thoughtful in this community.
Testimonal
by an MEPC Counselor
I’m a 9th grader at Kentlake High School. Last summer my friend persuaded me to join MEPC. From soccer and art, to discussions and building, I had tons of fun and excitement. In my opinion, Middle East Peace Camp is not only about having fun but mainly about learning, knowledge, and experience. In all, I love MEPC.
Testimonal
by an MEPC Counselor
The MEPC community has had a lasting impression on my life, and is one of my most valued communities. I have learned so much from the camp and its other participants. Starting as a CIT when I was 14, I was nervous for my first year. Little did I know that the other counselors would be my best friends ten years later. What began as a necessary gathering space for local families has grown into a strong and vibrant multigenerational community of people working for justice. The MEPC provides a supportive environment for learning, having fun, and fostering lasting friendships.


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