Tucked away in an idyllic corner of Maine is a summer camp that features many traditional American activities: singing around bonfires, flag raising ceremonies, Color Wars, and chilly dips in the lake. Less ordinary, however, are the daily dialogue sessions, where Israeli and Palestinian campers heatedly discuss their identities, homelands, politics, and pain.
Meet Seeds of Peace, the organization that runs this one-of-a-kind camp – and our client organization for a very unique clinical project. We – Krystyna Wamboldt (JD ’12), Rachel Krol (JD ’12), and Professor Robert Bordone (JD ’97) – partnered with Seeds of Peace to lead a skills-building workshop for the organization’s older youth, focused on interests-based, problem-solving negotiation.
As part of the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP), our three person team traveled to Jerusalem in January 2012 to teach negotiation and mediation skills to a group of Israeli and Palestinian teenagers, all former campers at Seeds of Peace. For three days, the “Seeds” did a range of activities, including several role-plays and active listening exercises. On the final day of the program, the students put their new skills to use in a group negotiation simulation about the conflict in Northern Ireland.
“It was incredible to look around the room and see both Palestinian and Israelis working together during the Ireland simulation,” said Rachel. “It was a challenging negotiation, yet they were communicating effectively, asking questions, listening to each other, and asserting their own interests while working towards a common goal. It was a wonderful sight!”