Today I attended a luncheon celebrating the 13 annual Building Bridges for Peace hosted by the non-profit Seeking Common Ground. Until a colleague invited me to attend yesterday, I had not heard of this organization. Until today, when I read about the Palestinian-Israeli conflicts, I could not envision how the issues between these people would ever be resolved to create lasting peace. Seeking Common Ground may have the answer. Seeking Common Ground strives to empower individuals to change the world by creating peaceful communities through integration, socialization, communication, and leadership development.
The mission of the Building Bridges for Peace Program is to bring together young women (16 -19) from Israel, Palestine and the United States to participate in an intensive summer program. During their time together participants learn new communication techniques, develop leadership skills and engage in activities that promote peace and the status and empowerment of women.
After the summer program participants return to their respective communities to continue in a year long follow-up program. Our inaugural program took place during the summer of 1994. These women are able to meet and live with young women from diverse ethnic, racial, and religious communities.
The speakers at the luncheon first described the formation of this organization and its overall mission of global peace. The founders were obviously saddened that there is still a need for their organization. Later in the program, the summer camp participants talked about their experiences interacting with and learning to understand the “other.” Given all of the recent headlines about the unrest in the middle east, these talks were truly inspiring. If these young ladies can come together to find some common ground, what else is possible?
The founders of Seeking Common Ground are now looking to create an Institute with year round programs to accelerate their outreach.