As summer staff, part of our job was planning and implementing a peace camp titled “Raise the peace” in the Meadowgreen area of Saskatoon last August. This area is home to many newcomer families from about 20 different nations. The focus of the camp was peacebuilding and restorative justice, with a specific emphasis on using spoken word—expressive poetry—as a tool for opening discussions on issues of conflict. This allowed youth to give voice to their own experiences of conflict, as well as finding healthy ways to deal with it.
Our facilitator for the camp, Lishai Peel, came to us from Toronto and had a way of helping the youth take off their “cool masks” and open up with one another. Stories of struggle surfaced, ranging from leaving their home countries in conflict to personal issues such as bullying.
A particularly memorable moment was when one young man, who typically had a hard time focussing on the sessions, suddenly became serious and began asking deep questions about how to deal with the conflict he was experiencing in his own life. As the whole group intently listened to the discussion, we were encouraged to see that they saw this as a safe place to share and learn from one another.
A second memorable experience was when a 10-year-old girl from Jordan shared with us her poem that she wrote about deepening her understanding of her country of origin and her roots:
“I am from reading time with my grandmother.
I always felt warm and safe like a turtle in a shell.
“I am from cooking lessons with my mother.
I can still smell the kitchen—fresh spices, and something cooking on the stove.
Her hands looked like they were dancing around the kitchen.
“I am from a country that is still at war.
I feel sadness in my heart when I think about it.
I hope in my heart of hearts that one day it will be over.”
Adapted from a Peacebuilding on the Prairies blog (http://bit.ly/1F2QRg0) posted Sept. 2, 2014. Summer staff Rachel Bueckert and Charis Miller, a Columbia Bible College student on an intercultural studies internship, assisted Mennonite Central Committee Saskatchewan community engagement coordinators put on the four-day camp last summer.
For other stories in our Focus on Camping series, see: