THIS WAS PEACECAMP 2014 - Aia, Arab delegation

Peacecamp was a really interesting experience for me.
As for the dialogues I didn’t quite like it a lot because I felt like they were trying to normalize my perspective as a Palestinian, Israel OCCUPIES Palestine and this is not a conflict of 2 equal sides countries and that wasn’t very clear in peacecamp.
Other than that, I had a lot of fun!
We had 2 AMAZING leaders who were Lukas and Anphie that I love so much.
I learned A LOT from Lukas and also the fact that Austria and Hungary were in conflict and now they don’t even remember their conflict it filled me up with a little bit of hope.
The camp was a lot of fun I got to meet new amazing people and I had the time of my life !
The only thing I would change was how they did the dialogues but other than that it was really good and I enjoyed in particulary the culture nights.

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THIS WAS PEACECAMP 2014 - Caroline, art workshop4peace

A reflection:

I joined the peaceamp on the 5th day. What I felt immediately, was a warm and friendly atmosphere that welcomed me, from the leading team as well as from the participants. I was very curious to get to know the young people and to learn how they deal with each other, especially because of the latest hot conflict between Israel and Gaza at that time.

From the beginning I felt that the young people already had built strong friendships and valuable contacts which were able to bear and respect different thinking and different point of views.

I was witness of a constructive teamwork among the young people when they were asked to create artistic contributions or to build groups for various activities, games or discussions.

The discussion in the so called “large group” was a challenge for the young people. It was a time which all the participants and the leading team shared together to discuss all subjects that concern life, life-circumstances, problems, prejudice, hopes, anger or anxieties. Everyone was allowed to articulate everything that was of importance for her/him. It was amazing for me to see that in spite of different experiences in their homeland, in spite of different point of views and opinions, even in spite of sometimes rising of strong feelings of disbelief and sadness the young people were able to meet each other with respect and esteem. I had the impression that the young people from Austria and Hungary were able to help their Israeli and Arab-Israeli friends with starting to look at their problems from a new position. Very touching for me was the story of an Austrian girl who is a Muslim but who had decided to put down her headscarf as long as she attends the High-School just to be not disadvantaged. The Hungarian young people told about their experiences with the Roma-people in Hungary and I was very moved to hear how ready they are to support the rights of the Roma. I guess the whole discussions in the “large group” proved that it is possible to discuss, to express feelings like anger and anxiety without blaming each other.

Evelyn Böhmer Laufer made all efforts to let the young people experience how to communicate and to discuss without hurting other people but nevertheless to articulate their own concerns. And she was very successful with it. The young people attended the rules. Silvio Gutkowski, the inventor and moderator of the “large group” as well as Clara Reininger helped and supported the young people during the discussions.

There was one point which was amazing to all of us from the leading-team: in spite of all the incredible and horrifying news about Israel/Gaza the youth-delegations from Israel never mentioned that fact during the “large group”. In a circle we adults discussed how we should deal with that fact and we wondered why the young people were so insistently silent on this topic. We were not sure if they didn’t want to or if they thought they were not allowed to talk about it. So Evelyn had raised this issue at the next discussion. The young people gave the answer: they all had made a collective non-verbal agreement that they wanted to exclude this topic because theiy feared for their newly formed friendships. Their friendships had been already so strong and precious for them, so that they feared that an emotional conflict might destroy the new seeds of this friendship.

During their free time the peacecamp participants spent their time together with singing, joking, talking or walking in the beautiful nature. The young people loved to sit together in the sofas of the Youth-Hostel and to share a good time together. Also among the coordinators of the delegation groups were developed or recessed friendships.
The responsible people of the Youth-Hostel in Lackenhof were very kind and accommodating. In spite of Ramadan and all the other special requests, the women and the cook in the kitchen were very kind and tried to satisfy all desires.

Anne Sophie Fritz and Lukas Hauptfeld were working on the peacecamp-performance with the young people. I was there as an assistant and trainer. It was amazing for me to see how dedicated the participants worked on their scenes and how open minded they were. They were asked to present very personal ideas, dreams or experiences on stage. Anne Sophie collected all pieces and put them together to a collage with music, improvised scenes and texts from the participants. Lukas Hauptfeld worked on rhythm and music with the young people. I had the impression that the participants loved the way they were animated and cheered by Sophie and Lukas which created an atmosphere of trust and joy. For me it was a great joy to work with the young people. On July 11th the participants performed their show in Lackenhof infront of a selected audience. With great success to a full house the young people presented their very honest and touching “show4peace” on July 12th at the “Dschungel” in Vienna, a show about all their hopes, feelings and about friendship.

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THIS WAS PEACECAMP 2014 - Danielle, Jewish-Israeli delegation

It's not easy to grow up in Israel, whether you are Jewish or Arab.
It's not easy growing up here, knowing that you've been brought up to believe that the other side is always wrong and that it is ok to be angry with, and even hate them instead of looking for ways to live together in peace and partnership.

I was never told at home to hate the Arabs. In fact, I never really knew what I felt or what I believed until came to the camp. There I learned that it didn't matter if you were Jewish, Christian or anything else, we are all human beings, and more than anything else, we all want to live our lives in peace.

When I was told that I had been accepted to the program, I got very excited, but I was also concerned. I didn't know, what to expect, how the others would be like, would they be nice and friendly, whether the place was good and if the activities would be fun. There were many other
worries, actually.

My biggest concern was that we would fight all the time, the Jews and the Arabs: that we would not get along, and that bad energy would poison the whole experience.

And that how it went, at the beginning. There were arguments and fights that caused tension and anger between us. What was so special however, about those ten days at the camp, was that despite the huge conflict we managed to put the problems aside and become very close friends.

Soon enough we stopped caring who was who and who came from which religion. We understood and realized that we all shared very similar lives as teenagers and that peace amongst us was possible despite the difficulties.

A major reason to our ability to have a good time together was the camp overall atmosphere of joy and laughter. People were cool, friendly and mature. We simply had a lot of fun with one another. It didn't really matter where people came from and what language they spoke.
That could be clearly seen at the final night when everybody sang, hugged an felt a very strong connection between us accompanied by a deep understanding of how we had been affected, as humans, by the camp experience.

In all, for myself, I see this experience as a success. It made realize how difficult to is be "the other". It also helped me to understand myself better and made me see my friends in new and different ways. I made myself friends for life and I even picked up some Arabic, German and even Hungarian, let alone improving my English.

At the end of the day, we succeeded in showing everybody that if we only wanted, different people can live together and even become good friends.

That is how Peace Camp was for me.
Danielle Raviv

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