A key goal of the “I Have A Dream” Foundation – Los Angeles (IHADLA) program is to help our students (“Dreamers”) develop skills they will use throughout their entire life and academic careers, such as leadership skills. Leadership skills play a key role in students’ success, especially when students enroll in college and have the opportunity to join social organizations. A key component of effective leadership is respect for all cultures and backgrounds and the ability to empathize with different worldviews and opinions. Thanks to our friends at Seeds of Peace, three of our Dreamers (Leah Williams-Mohammed, Aaron Fields, and Journi Brown) recently had the opportunity to build their cultural awareness and leadership skills at the powerful Seeds of Peace Leadership Development Camp.
The goal of the Seeds of Peace program is to inspire and cultivate new generations of global leaders in communities divided by conflict. The program begins with a two-week experience at the Seeds of Peace Camp in Maine. Students, referred to as “Seeds,” have the opportunity to engage in a dynamic program that fosters self-reflection, self-growth, and deep learning which allows them to acknowledge and move beyond the stereotypes, prejudices, and mistrust of others and difference. Following this transformative time at Camp, the US Seeds Leadership Program continues with year-round activities that help the Seeds root their experience back in their homes, schools, and communities.
Seeds of Peace Leadership Development Camp Is Transformative for IHADLA Dreamers
For Dreamer Leah Williams-Mohammed and the other IHADLA students who attended, the Seeds of Peace camp proved life-changing. Describing her arrival at the camp along with the other Los Angeles attendees, Leah says,
“It was this embrace only few could describe.”
During the two-week camp, Leah and the other Dreamer attendees had the opportunity to participate in powerful facilitated discussion groups that offered a safe space to discuss topics such as race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. In these discussion groups, the Dreamers learned important lessons and skills that they will carry with them their entire lives. As Leah describes,
“I learned how to let someone express their opinion and try to understand their perspective. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree, it was about the respect.”
Seeds of Peace Camp Includes Team-Building Activities
Of course, the Dreamers also had the opportunity to interact with the other attendees in more informal activities, such as playing soccer and canoeing. In addition to building teamwork skills, these activities allowed the Dreamers to form meaningful, authentic bonds with peers from cultures different from their own.
“There were so many different people from diverse backgrounds and cultures, all in one place,” Leah explains. “Everyone had their own story, and at the same time, we all had so much in common.” The Dreamers came away from these interactions with new friends and new respect for diverse cultures.
IHADLA Dreamers Return from Seeds of Peace Camp Invigorated
After two weeks, the time came for the Dreamers to say goodbye to the other attendees and head back home. Despite the sadness of saying goodbye, they were extremely grateful for the experience. Summarizing her time at the camp, Leah says,
“I connected with so many great people and feel as if I have made life-long friends, all in a matter of two weeks.”
The Dreamers returned to Los Angeles energized and ready to effect change in their communities. We are very excited to see the great things they will achieve in the future.
Thank you to our friends at Seeds of Peace for allowing our Dreamers to grow and celebrate diversity at their leadership development camp!