Projects for Peace: The Vision of Kathryn W. Davis

"My challenge to you is to bring about a mind-set of preparing for peace, instead of preparing for war."

Project Harmony Israel

Project #
University of Chicago
  • Meg Sullivan
  • Alexandra Tabachnick

Project Harmony

Project Harmony was a four-week, English-language summer camp for Arab and Jewish middle-school children living in Jerusalem. The goal of the camp was to enable the Arab and Jewish children to relate to one another as peers and not as members of a religious group or citizens of a troubled state. The camp became a “safe place” where shared experience led to trust and support, where all they had in common was more important than any perceived differences.

English was the focus of the camp, as it is not only considered a crucial skill for Israelis today, but also the only language that every child in Israel studies and as such a common bond. In addition to English, the 50 campers learned team-building exercises and conflict-resolution skills, increased their computer literacy, and shared in outdoor activities each morning. The afternoons were devoted to photography, video, theater, and art.

Fifteen volunteer counselors were recruited and trained, and a local school contributed classroom and sports facilities. The camp was registered with the Israeli government as an educational summer program, and plans are in progress to create a registered nonprofit and secure future summer sessions. Next summer’s goal is to enroll 100 campers. The Project Harmony tagline says it all: “Peace through shared experience, one summer at a time.” Alexandra and Meg know that peace in the region will be a long-term process, but they are planting and nurturing a seed in each of their campers.