King’s Academy, March 1, 2015 — The importance of dialogue as the basis for meaningful change in the pursuit of peace was the theme of a school meeting address last Wednesday by Seeds of Peace representative Orlando Arellano.
Headmaster John Austin started off the meeting, which took place in the Abdul Majeed Auditorium, by describing discussion as “the life-blood of learning.”
With urgent problems such as nuclear weapon proliferation and environmental degradation threatening the future, “it’s no exaggeration to say that our very future depends upon your ability to address these issues,” Austin said.
“You will need to work cooperatively and collaboratively with others, and to engage in the hard and difficult work of working with those who have different experiences, beliefs and perspectives,” he added. “Because others will often disagree with you, you will need to develop empathy and humility, a willingness to listen respectfully to others, and the courage to reach for new solutions.”
Arellano then took the floor and offered a general overview of the organization which brings together youth and educators from regions of conflict, and equips them with the critical relationships and skills needed to help build a peaceful reality.
He began by explaining the “unlikely source of inspiration” for the presentation entitled “Jerusalem: Future’s Past” (based on a seminar previously held by Seeds of Peace) which arose from the latest X-Men trailer for the film Days of Future Past.
The self-proclaimed avid fan of the film franchise explained the clip also got him thinking about the status quo and the future of the city of Jerusalem, “a highly contentious topic,” said Arellano.
He went on the highlight how the organization works on constructing binational programs through freedom of expression and experiential learning. Both sides, he added, focus on identity and self-importance while working to find common ground to facilitate this “new mode of thinking” and create “a community of critical thought.”
Throughout the dynamic lecture, Arellano posed several thought-provoking questions, such as “What were some of the most significant moments in your life?” and “What do you consider an important historical moment?” before encouraging the audience to reflect on how this communication shapes the past, present and future – “our shared history.”
Seeds of Peace works in partnership with people from other organizations, and designs workshops that aim at conflict transformation and understanding, added Arellano, who emphasized that “the future begins yesterday.”
The discussion was followed by a Q&A session with students on topics ranging from how the organization gets opposing sides to cooperate to the process of going from a place of fear to one of inquiry.
Students then broke off into 30 student-led barazza groups organized in classrooms throughout the Academy building, which allowed them “a forum to engage in a meaningful conversation about the content of the assembly as well as the larger issue at hand,” according to Dean of Students Julianne Puente.