Seeds of Peace (SOP), an international organisation working to instil the ideas of peace especially in the youth, organized a week-long National Integration Camp in Islamabad where 50 youth leaders from Pakistan’s five major cities came together to identify, understand and solve problems that have solutions in peace. Three of our Class 10 students, Areeba, Maryam and Alina were selected for the camp after a rigorous evaluation consisting of written and oral tests as well as a series of interviews. Our school was one of the 20 from across Pakistan that was represented and was also the only government school from Karachi.
This youth leadership camp had educational/awareness activities such as dialogue sessions and team work. In the dialogue sessions, participants were divided into groups representing different communities to discuss the mutual problems and explore the solutions. Through this exercise, the participants also learned to develop respect for differences of opinion. They also picked up teamwork skills through a variety of lesson-based activities and games.
Along with others on their team our students were assigned Karachi-related projects to promote peace, tolerance and understanding through leadership. These include conducting workshops with youth for spreading peace, imparting awareness about education, planting trees, cleaning up the city and fundraising. All these activities will be monitored by Seeds Of Peace volunteers in Karachi.
Near the end of the camp, a cultural night was held in which participants presented the culture of their respective provinces through dance, speech, or song, or a quick language lesson. Areeba, Maryam and Alina played the National Anthem on the flute which they had learned to play at school and it was highly appreciated. A trip to the Pakistan Monument, History Museum and the beautiful Margalla Hills in Islamabad was also arranged which was a fantastic exposure for the young boys and girls from all over Pakistan.
They expressed their happiness and achievement in the following words:
Areeba: “The National Integration Camp was a great experience in my life. The “campers” remain connected with each other. All the volunteers behaved like friendsThere was no difference between boys and girls. I learnt so many lessons in just a week.”
Alina: “Before this camp, I had some misconceptions about the people of Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta, but after having met them, my thoughts changed. I now want to teach poor children and try to make our environment better, safer and healthier.”
Maryam: “I grew up during this one week in a way I had not grown in the last 16 years of my life.”
The participants are determined to help weak students of their school; to motivate the parents and the community to send their children to school;to plant trees; to clean up sea view beach, etc. The three students were also asked to create Facebook accounts, to join and stay active on the Seeds of Peace group page which they have already done. They also conducted workshops for the students of class 9 and 10 of our school and intend to work intensely on some of their projects after their board exams. If they work hard on their projects and produce impressive results, they could be nominated as Paradigm Shifters and would be invited to attend the next such camp as guides for the new participants. We’re thrilled to hear about their amazing, enriching experience and cannot stress enough the value of exchange programmes!