In mid March, fifteen teens and five adults (counting me) gathered Kiev, Ukraine for a worthy purpose: to learn the art of creating peace with groups of people. Each year we identify student leaders from high schools across Ukraine, and bring them to Kiev for The School for Creative Peacemaking for a total of 9 days and then to a Peacemaking Camp in the summer. This is our third year; kids from our first year are now in college.
"Having spent 3 days here...I believe that this is such a big impetus to change, I would say to radical change. It teaches us to take from life as much as possible, never lose strength, always keep the path forward, keep calm and balanced. As Einstein said: "Life is like cycling. To maintain balance, you need to move. " -Olena
The war in Ukraine is now more than four years old. The Russian advance left a broad stretch of land unoccupied and the economy weakened. This including the major cities like Lugansk and Donetsk. Pro-Russians fled the war into Russia. Pro-Ukrainians fled into Ukraine. In much of this region, only 25% of the former population remains, mostly pensioners who live a meager life on small monthly incomes.
A day will come, though, when property and business owners will return, both from Russia in the east and Ukraine in the west. The political and military war will end, but feelings of resentment, animosity and revenge will take much longer to heal. That's what we are preparing for.
"Your technique. This is something incredible. All the coaches have created an atmosphere that really wanted to work. Your exercises, tasks - fantasy. During this short period of time, I realized so many things: how to avoid conflicts, how to talk about your feelings, how to deal with difficult situations, how to say good, strong words." -Maria
The Planning Team
We are working toward a cohort of students in universities and ultimately beyond who will be able to facilitate the work of peace-building. The Ukrainian Academy of Sciences and the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine believe in what we are doing, enough to provide financial support by providing meals and housing.
Ultimately, the success of our program is graded by our students. We read what they write; we see it in their eyes.
With the Planning Team
Grace and Peace,