“Yes We Could“ – Peace Camp 2009 Initiative Ended Successfully

Austrian Press Agency (APA) (07/13/2009)

Website of the Jewish Community Vienna 

Reibers/Wien – Under the motto, “Let’s talk peace in Reibers,“ a group of young people between the ages of fourteen and eighteen from Israel, Palestine, Austria and Hungary met together at a “peace camp“ to search for ways to learn how to resolve conflict peaceably and strive for understanding. “It was the best peace camp there has ever been,“ commented initiator Evelyn Böhmer-Laufer on the sixth meeting of its kind, this time held in Reibers in the district of Waidhofen an der Thaya. The ten-day camp ended with “Show4peace“ in Vienna’s museum sector of the city. 

“Yes We Could“ chanted the participants at the first farewell party in Reibers, where a statement summarizing “Peace Camp 2009“ was read. It emphasized that “we are all born into conflict. Our job is to live as peacefully as possible.“ At the final “Show4peace“ in Vienna’s museum sector, young people presented sequences of a film which they had produced themselves bearing the theme, “Peace,“ and performed a show of dance entitled, “Rhythm and Movement.“ 

The participants, including four youths from Vienna’s Wasagymnasium and Piaristengymnasium, received the European “youth pass“ at the end of the event. As part of a strategy developed by the European Commission to create an environment of learning in an informal setting, young people received certification of having participated in various youth projects. “That which the young people have learned here can be incorporated later on into their professional careers,“ says Böhmer-Laufer and participants will learn to act as “ambassadors of peace“ in the future.  

Böhmer-Laufer showed enthusiasm for the dynamics that developed among the young people and realizes that the reason being, among other things, is a result of the solid preparation before the event: “Each nationality came with a presentation which offers a piece of shared history from a particular perspective,“ she said and pointed to the current day workshops focusing on contemporary history. Both Jews and Palestinians worked on the topic of conflict in their home countries before attending the camp, while Austrians and Hungarians focused on the history of Jews in their countries. 

Psychologist and Psychotherapist Evelyn Böhmer-Laufer founded the Peace Camp. As posted on the website, the goal is to develop “strategies for fighting xenophobia and intercultural conflict.“ Peace means for her “to respect that which is foreign in onself and outside of oneself, coming to reconciliation.“