Thursday, August 4, 2011

An Intern's Reflection

As an intern at Tuesday’s Children, I have had quite the emotionally moving summer with regards to the research I have done, and people I have worked with.  But there is no way I could have been prepared for what I was to encounter at Project COMMON BOND.  The program was one of the main reasons I was so interested in applying for a position at Tuesday’s Children, and being invited to help out at PCB seemed to be the icing on the cake for my summer intern experience.  In all honesty though, it wasn’t.  It was so much more.  Project COMMON BOND and everyone I came in contact with have truly changed my life.  I was so moved by the strength and openness of the participants, the care and thoughtfulness of the facilitators, and the engaging demeanor of the counselors.  I cannot think of a time when I was more greatly impacted on such a powerful level and in such a short amount of time.

One of the most amazing aspects of the program is how everyone manages to make such a deep and intense connection to those around them despite the weeklong time constraint, the planned activities and group assignments.  Most of all, the language barriers that no doubt existed in several situations, were ultimately tiny matters compared to the care and support that were far from constrained.  I witnessed young men and women, most only a few years younger than I, create lasting bonds and move towards peace in a way incomparable to any effort I have ever seen before.  These young people have left the largest imprint on my heart and my mind; I know I will never forget this experience.

In future years, I would be wasting my time if I did anything else during the week of PCB other than attend as a counselor or volunteer in some way.  I have met the most amazing people from all over the world, many whose countries are still in conflict and in some cases with the home countries of other participants.  For these youth to be able to attain a level of understanding and compassion great enough to exist in peace – and make strides to building peace in the future – at this program is an unbelievable feat.  Project COMMON BOND, a necessary program under the worst circumstances, is the most phenomenal and life-changing experience I have ever been a part of.  The discussions, games, and peace-building talks and activities have the power to bridge gaps across oceans and lands for the generation of our future, and PCB supplies this opportunity to heal and promote peace.

Tara Greeley
PCB Counselor 2011
TC Intern, Summer 2011

Monday, August 1, 2011

From the Head Counselor...

I am sitting on a bench outside the cafeteria with a participant who wandered out from dinner. We’ve only been at PCB for a week, but it feels like a month since we first arrived at Foxcroft. PCB always has this effect; the feeling that we’ve been here forever, yet the experience is too soon over. However, the beauty of this program is that the effects extend far beyond the confines of camp classrooms and a week of time. Lessons learned about other cultures, how to treat others with dignity and how to build peace rather than simply fight war are priceless and do not fade.

This camp is not a Utopia, there are hard conversations, conflicts and moments of extreme difficulty and pain. It is a world of its own. The magic here comes from the ability of 77 brave and beautiful (in every sense) young adults from 10 different countries, to create a space of peace, love and respect despite those difficulties and differences. They are peace in the making and they know better than anyone else could, the consequences of conflict. So they are dedicated to peace, problem solving and they are, I hope, finding comfort for their pain in one another.

A participant said to me that a world of peace would look like PCB. I have to agree. It is indeed difficult to express exactly what happens here. Perhaps because we as a people are more accustomed to conflict than we are to large, diverse groups working towards understanding. The magic in two people having a conversation when they do not share a language is small, but wildly significant. It is through small, separate acts that we all bond here and through small, separate acts that we achieve peace and understanding in the world.

I have been with PCB for four years. It is my favorite week of the year, hands down. Peace, trust, patience, understanding, and curiosity—these things are addictive and they grow and flourish here. PCB is a place of quiet miracles. Each moment is a gift for me. I hope I am able to give back even a portion of what I receive. This place is important to the participants who have suffered terrible tragedy, but it is also important to the world. In these participants I see our future Nelson Mandelas and John Lennons and a generation of people capable of spreading peace. They know conflict, terror and loss and at PCB they know peace. They have chosen to support the latter. That takes incredible courage, heart and wisdom. If that is not worthy of every amount of possible support, I don’t know what is.

If our world looks like PCB one day, we will be in good shape. I for one am inspired daily by the people around me here to work for that goal. For now we start with each new day. Waking up, putting into action what we’ve learned here and knowing as individuals and as a people we can do better.

Rachel Balma
PCB Counselor 2008-2011
Head Counselor 2011