The Center for Peacebuilding (CIM) held its tenth annual Peace Camp near Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina from August 24th to 30th. This year, 22 Bosnian youth representing various ethnic and religious groups from all over the country attended, as well as international peacebuilders from the United States, Canada, Belgium, Poland and the Czech Republic. Four Bosnian participants were selected to attend Peace Camp for a second time in order to serve as small group leaders and facilitators. At the conclusion of the Camp, they received Trainer of Trainers certificates from CIM with the hope that the certificates will help them organize similar peacebuilding events in Bosnia in the future.
During Peace Camp, CIM staff worked hard to create a safe and open environment for the participants. The participants were intentionally given time to socialize with each other in order to provide them with space to develop interethnic and interreligious relationships. During Peace Camp, the particiants gained skills in peacebulding through interactive workshops on nonviolent communication, identity, stereotypes, conflict resolution and reconciliation. They also underwent a training course in nonviolent communication for children and received certificates at the conclusion of the Camp illustrating thier completion of the course. Each morning, Peace Camp began with a time for worship from different faith traditions, which provided the participants with an opportunity to learn about religions different than their own and to come together for prayer, meditation and reflection.
Throughout Peace Camp, through facilitated dialogue, CIM staff encouraged participants to examine the negative stereotypes they hold about individuals from different ethnic and religious groups and begin taking steps to overcome some of the anger and fear they feel towards the other. CIM staff also spent time helping participants address past traumas and the heavy emotions attached to them.
One participant, Amina for Gorazde, shared her thoughts on her Peace Camp experience:
„Peace Camp led me into a totally different reality from the one I knew. I expected to meet new friends and gain some new experiences and skills. However, I got a lot more than that. I met fantastic people and I learned a lot of new things and gained a new perspective of myself and others around me. I learned that facing everyday situations while carrying past traumas and pain is really hard. Peace Camp is a place where I felt safe sharing all that I carry inside of myself. At Peace Camp, I was able to share my stories and feelings and hear other people’s stories and feelings. During Camp, we became members of one big family. It was calming and inspiring to spend time with a group of people who believe in peace. My true advice for anyone who has not participated in CIM’s Peace Camp, is to take a chance and join.“