Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Haiqa Sadaqat shares her Seeds of Peace Experience

 If I say that they were the best three weeks of my life, I wouldn’t be doing justice to the entire experience. Mere words cannot be used to sum up what I went through this summer. Seeds of peace- The way life could be. This says it all. It was my idea of Heaven on Earth. Phenomenal, life-changing, amazing and enlightening are one of the uncountable words that I can associate to it.
Three whole weeks with the Indians seemed an impossibility before. How were we supposed to live and possibly learn to love our enemies? How would we tolerate ideas from a group of people against whom we had nothing but hate in mind? These and many other apprehensions clouded my mind as I set off for our journey to America. However, my thought process was in for a strong blow because camp was beyond what I had imagined.
I now remember the smiling faces of the counselors, which showed nothing but ecstasy; welcoming us to a place they considered their own. I remember feeling the warmth emanating from every single person there. I remember the doubts disappearing from my mind and feeling like I belonged. This was the place to be.It was a place where every single opinion, every little emotion of yours’ was taken into account. Where you were encouraged in every way possible. Where you were made to feel important. It was a place where there was no space for boundaries. It was a place where you weren’t identified by your religion, nationality or color, but by the small name button that you wore on your Seeds of peace T-shirt.
A few days into dialogue I saw peace happen. I saw us struggling to reach consensus and common ground that we all knew we had despite our differences. I saw us opening up and breaking free from the clutches of the norms of our societies that held us back. I saw us going to war within ourselves to achieve peace. We challenged ourselves everyday; forgetting all factual knowledge and trusting the process. This for me was peace. And it made me wonder, that if a small group of teenagers can learn to love their enemies then what would be the world like if all the nations decide to do so? It would be a world not very different from camp; A world worth living in.
Camp made me realize that we might have our differences with the Indians but we had countless similarities too. We speak the same language. We all love eating biryani and about anything that has a whole lot of spice in it, and we are die-hard fans of cricket! How similar could we get?
At times I find my memory spanning the days like a bridge. I miss the time we stood in the bleachers of the baseball game and sung songs that none other could understand. I miss the time when I along with my Indian friend, Ruxshin, stood on top of the vertical play pen, beaming down upon the hurdles that we had crossed together. I remember pulling the rope in tug of war with my Indian and Israeli friends till our hands burned. We were working together. We were on the same side then. These moments were priceless and made me realize what an unbeatable duo Pakistan and India would make if they were to unite as Ruxshin and I did.
Seeds of peace has left an imprint on my mind for all time to come. I never cease to dream about the beautiful fields at camp and the Pleasant Lake. When I close my eyes, I go back to the last day. It touches my heart when I see the crying faces of my fellow campers appear in front of me again.It tears me to feel that very sense of dread that I felt the last day, knowing that I would probably not see these faces that I love, again.
However, that love that is filled to the brim in a Seed’s heart doesn’t die away at the end of camp. Instead, it develops into passion and desire. Desire for change. A desire for a better future. A future that has peace in it. And camp taught me that this change has to be brought upon by ourselves. We have to be the dream that we wish could be the reality. We have to be the change that we want to see in the world.
Over the time of these three weeks, we had all grown into one big SOP family. Coexistence and mutual understanding came easily then. ‘For friendship, health, love and opportunity, we are thankful.’ These were the lines that we used to recite before every meal together. Now, I truly am grateful that I got to be a Seed of peace. And I guess that this was just what I needed…
Haiqa Sadaqat
Seed ‘11

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