Peace Campers Provide Surprise, Delight
ISTANBUL, TURKEY—DAY TWO-THREE—PTPI PEACE CAMP--
Peace Camp 2011 has thus far been full of surprises.
I was surprised yesterday when our 28 students from 23 countries visited an educational center for special needs children. The center was spotless, modern, and well-run, and included many different kinds of programs ranging from cultural education to art.
During our visit, our students got a chance to meet and interact with about 15 differentially-abled Turkish youngsters who were working on pottery and craft projects. I was surprised and pleased at how our students jumped right in and interacted. I saw several even taking up a paint brush to help. As a teen, I would have been reluctant, even a bit scared, in a similar situation, but not our peace campers. You can’t fake the smiles that radiated from both the creative kids at the center and our peace campers as they got to know one another.
Honestly, however, I wasn't surprised yesterday at how much the students enjoyed our sightseeing at the Grand Bazzar (photo below) and Spice Market. This included a stop in a local restaurant for tasty doner kebap (see picture right).
I was equally surprised today by the peace journalism session I taught this afternoon. I knew our peace campers were exceptional, but I was really floored by the level of discourse during the lecture. The students asked analytical, sophisticated questions, and did not hesitate to challenge me. If I had closed my eyes, I would have thought I was back at Park University teaching juniors or seniors. Only three of the 28 students here are currently in college, while the rest are just in high school. I could barely walk and chew gum in high school, let alone engage in a nuanced discussion about the role of the media in preventing conflicts.
Now, the students have been tasked with writing and producing a newspaper covering the camp and international peace issues. Based on our first few days together, my expectations for this student newspaper are sky-high. (It will be posted and linked from this site, so stay tuned).
Tomorrow, we fly to Cappadocia for what should be a thrilling few days of sightseeing and learning about peace.
NEW--Photos from the second day of the peace camp which included a visit to the Grand Bazzar and Spice Market and a presentation on conflicts and resources, click here.