Peace Camp 2007: Imagine Peace

Die Gemeinde (March 2007)

Association for the Promotion of Political Maturity

Israeli, Palastinian, Hungarian and Austrian Youths
Explore Their Indentity and Confront Problems of Their Time

July 2 – 12 in Reibers, Waldviertel

Peace Camp 2007: Imagine Peace is a sequel to the projects, Peace Camp 2004, 2005 and 2006, all promoted by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture and the Karl Kahanel Foundation, the latter two of which are also supported by the EU Youth Program.

Context and Motivation

“As a child of Holocaust survivors, I have always felt the wish and obligation to take part in forming and maintaining a peaceful world. Already during my childhood I was impressed by the idea of a world without borders in which all nations are equal in rank and everyone is equal. The fall of the Iron Curtain and the creation of the European Union, obliterating borders between countries, made a childhood dream come true. They symbolize the idea that wishes, however utopian in nature, can actually be realized if one can convince enough people to be committed to a matter in which they truly believe.

As psychologist and psychoanalyst I was particularly interested in the question how one can make people immune against becoming insensitive, brutal  or seduced by evil, how one can sharpen the feeling of responsibility of the individual for the world in which we live. I am convinced that a healthy society stands on two pillars – the capability to resist the evil in ourselves and the preparedness, to participate positively and constructively in maintaining a peaceful world. To this end, it is necessary to offer young people at the earliest age opportunities to sharpen their critical thinking, their ability to be open for dialogue and their sense of justice.  

Adolescence is the time in which values offered by their parents are tested; following  a few answers, one searches for the eternal questions of the history of humanity. There is no better time to confront people with the difficult, seemingly unsolvable problems of society: Adolescents are daring and are not so easily afraid as we adults to confront the “sheer impossible.”  They are more capable than we to grow above and beyond the limits we view as absolute, as well as their own personal limits. Where we adults have perhaps already resigned, they are there ready and able to look for new ways and new solutions. It is worth supporting them in their efforts to make the world better. Soon they are adults and responsibility overshadows the “true” life; decisions have to be made and the world influences yours and our children.

We are obligated to sometimes make it more difficult for young people by offering them no final answers, by helping them to live with open questions, to withstand uncertainties, to come to terms with themselves and others and to bear the responsibility for their own actions”.

Peace Camp 2007: Imagine Peace brings four youth groups together and enables them to explore their own historical, national, religious and cultural context.

Goal of Coming Together is to enable the youth
•    To measure and to question possible prejudices held against others through actual encounter with “others” or “foreigners.”
•    To explore ways of understanding, cooperation and peaceful forms of controlling conflict through accomplishing something together, coming to terms with different ways of looking at a problem, and by way of dialogue
•    To overcome borders between nations and religions marked by war, hostility and resentment and to build bridges of understanding through accomplishing something together

•    Daily Art Workshops: Daily arts workshops, instructed by artists and presented to the public, are to be a last day event
•    Daily outdoor activities confronting youths with exciting mission impossible-type tasks, which are solved by developing a strategy together.
•    Group analytical rounds of discussion are to offer the opportunity to get to the bottom of conscious and unconscious factors which can make it difficult for people and groups to constructively get along with each other; perhaps ways and strategies can be found to solve these difficulties and find ways to promote understanding and cooperation
•    Team supervision
•    Last day event: On the last day of being together, the participants should offer the results of their encounters to a real public. Planned is a multi-media event with exhibit on how peace camp came to be, a presentation of music and dance, open workshops, etc. This cultural event will be open to the public, so that people walking by can also be present at this event (ex: Augarten in Vienna).

Participants in Peace Camp 2007 will be divided into four groups of ten youths each from the ages of fifteen to seventeen coming from Israel, Palestinian areas, Hungary and Austria. The Austrian participants are high school students from the Gymnasium am Parhammerplatz, 1170 Vienna. Each youth group will be led and accompanied by two adults as well as one artist or art instructor. The analytical group discussions and the supervision of teams will be headed by two psychotherapists or group analysts present at Peace Camp 2007.

For further information, see: