Fulbright Youth Summer Camp at the School for International Training
1998 Vermont Fulbright Youth Camp
John Ungerleider, Ed.D.
August 3, 1998
By the end of two weeks at the 1998 Fulbright Youth Camp at the
participants , both teens and adults, parted in
tears--deeply moved by new friendships, some of which will be very hard to
maintain in Cyprus. This group bonded as much as we had hoped by the end of
the two weeks, but this may have been assisted by fate and the measles. In spite
of one of our students bringing the first case of measles to Vermont in two years
participants had a powerful experience and a lot of fun together.
It is dramatic to see how successful bicommunal activities can be in building strong
personal relationships among people who are bred to distrust each other. These
students will never forget this time together, nor can I see how they can return to
the level of suspicion and hostility they brought to Vermont in the early days of the
camp. We are very excited to hear early reports from participants of significant
bicommunal contact back in Cyprus.
Following a "strong recommendation" that we not leave campus (though not an
actual quarantine) from the Vermont and Massachusetts deparments of health, we
were unable to go to Boston for the final weekend. Personally I think the loss of the
Boston portion of the program actually allowed for stronger bonding of the group,
due to facing shared adversity and having more time in a familiar place, focusing
on each other instead of shopping and sightseeing. I hope they get to see Boston
again--and the busdriver did take them on a scenic route through the city to the
airport--but I am not sorry for deeper results due to the unforeseen turn of events.
In our extra weekend in camp, we had a fabulous 'open mic' night of singing, a
bonfire, shaving cream fight, balloon volleyball game and disco that all brought the
group together more tightly than would have been likely in Boston.
Hanife, the sick student, was required to stay off campus for a few days while she
was contagious. We were fortunate to find a retired woman who grew up in Turkey
and still spoke a little Turkish. I know Hanife invited her host to come visit her
family in Cyprus.
While we thought this camp would be known as Mosquito Camp, the term for camp
up until the change of plans that took place on the final Friday of the program, I feel
we are far more likely live in memory with the bittersweet title of Measles Camp.
Still, evaluations showed high satisfaction with the time spent at Measles Camp.
Camper comments revealed that this was already perceived by most if not all of
them to be a very significant personal experience. The following comments were
written during one of the final dialogue group meetings:
Female Greek Cypriot..."This camp was the most beautiful
experience in my life. I've never thought that we could get so close to
each other. In this camp I felt everything. All the feelings mixed
together. We cried together, we laughed together, we had fun
together. Now it's really hard to write down my feelings. I leave my
Turkish Cypriot friends without knowing if I'll ever see them again. I
don't know only it hurts so much. Maybe it is because we really felt
each other. The thought of war makes me scared. The thought of
being enemies , our families fight against each other."
Male Turkish Cypriot..."Over the last two weeks I've met lots of
people and made a lot of friends. I've met people with whom I live on
the same island but I can not see. I've learned very important things
from these people. This camp was very nice experience. When I first
came I thought the two weeks would be too long but now I realize that
it should have been longer. Most important of all I have learned that
Greek Cypriots can be very good friends. I hope I can keep in touch
with these friends and get to see them as often as possible. I don't
want this to remain just as memories in photographs."
We had a fabulous Cypriot and American staff.
Marios Michaelides and
led the Cypriot training team, planning and managing the bicommunal
dialogue process. Munir Altuner
and Maro Karageorgi were tireless chaperones
who also assisted with bicommunal dialogue and helping to keep American staff
informed of dynamics within the youth group. The junior Cypriot staff members,
Yiouli Napoleontos and
Mustafa Tuncbilek were absolutely invaluable, working with
me to lead a dialogue group and providing important counseling and inspiration to
the young people. All of these Cypriot staff will be critical to facilitating any follow
up of the program back in Cyprus, to helping the students stay in touch and
potentially build a network of youth peacebuilders.
Our American and international counseling staff were tireless and excellent: Mary
Gannon a teacher from Springfield College and doctoral candidate in education at
the University of Massachusetts was my Assistant Director. Fulltime counselors
were Marc Nosbach, a graduate of the World Issues Program at SIT from Germany
who has worked on conflicts in Israel, Bosnia and Northern Ireland, and Amy Fisher
a graduate student at SIT in Intercultural Management from Australia. Splitting the
third fulltime counseling position were Americans, SIT graduate students Kim
Weeder and Sharon Stevenson, who had worked with the AMIDEAST Confidence
Building Workshop in 1996 and 1997 respectively. We did agree that we could
have used a fourth fulltime position, as all staff were usually working fourteen hour
days and could have used some more time to recharge during the two weeks.
It was very exciting working collaboratively with this multi-national staff. We were
able to do some preliminary program planning this year in Cyprus, but the most
significant collaboration was in working as a unified staff, making joint decisions
during the program as it unfolded. Marios, Huseyin and I were primarily
responsible for the bicommunal dialogue sessions, whose daily topics had to be
adjusted according to the progress of the group. In addition to the structured
schedule of activities, the program design had an emergent quality as we met
unanticipated challenges--such as the measles--and addressed the unfolding
reality of participant needs (emotional and content) as they found their own pace of
Age and Number of Students
The camp had a good group of students, although quite young on the whole and
with some behavior problems. For staff, working with this age group is a high
maintenance proposition. Fourteen year olds, especially boys, are limitless in
energy and at very mixed levels of maturity. Initially some faculty thought that the
age range should be older in following years. But by the end of the week it was
realized that the keyprerequisite for successful participation in the camp is maturity
and attitude, not age. Some of our best participants were in fact fourteen, while
some less mature fifteen year olds make life difficult for students and staff alike.
Faculty suggested we may want to reduce the number of future participants to
between twenty-four and thirty, i.e., twelve to fifteen from each side.
We used digital cameras to document our work and synthesize student learning
into a multi-media mural. A nine by twelve foot canvas was transformed with
painted images, words and laminated digital photos into a visual statement of the
the week's learning. We had talked about cutting the mural in half and taking it to
the respective sides of Cyprus, waiting for the chance to be reunited. It was
decided that it looked too nice to cut in half. Instead participants from North Cyprus
will present the mural to the Fulbright Commission and Ambassador Brill. They are
hoping the mural will live in the
in the buffer zone, waiting for them
until the day they can meet again. Participants decided they will meet
monocommunally, join with the youth from other camps, and lobby politicians
towards getting permission to meet bicommunally in Cyprus.
Cypriot staff will follow up the program with monocommunal meetings of the youth
back in Cyprus, and initiate contacts with participants from the other two youth
camps--Spidercamp and Seeds of Peace. These campers can also begin to build
a network with the Youth Encounters for Peace participants, joining in common
activities and projects.
The Cypriot youth connected to American youth the first Friday, when Vermont high
school students who participated in a program I run at SIT called the Governor's
on Current Issues and Youth Activism were invited back to have an
intercultural dialogue with the Cypriot youth. The American youth did a
presentation on their experiences with youth activism. Cypriot adult chaperones
were quite impressed by the sophistication, maturity and commitment to social
issues of the Vermont youth. The American teens stayed on into the evening for
continued informal dialogue, a barbeque and a rock and roll dance. We hope to
use the new web site conferencing capability of the Governor's Institutes of to
continue a virtual dialogue between the youth ofVermont and Cypriot. I hope the
Vermont teens will make the effort to stay in touch with their new friends from
Cyprus, and vice versa.
Our 1998 Youth Camp students and faculty left this session physically spent, but
inspired and energized. This program provides a unique opportunity for youth
leaders to really dig into ongoing issues that concern us all. This year, through the
use of cyber-technology and virtual conferencing we are trying to build a network of
active students across Cyprus. I know our whole faculty feels great pride in working
with these impressionable young people.
Bicommunal Relationship Development Process
The process of developing the bicommunal relationship between the Greek and
Turkish Cypriot participants at the Vermont youth camp took place in the context of
four types of activity. These include: 1) a deepening process of Dialogue which
began by sharing cultural similarities, progressed to addressing controversial
issues and culminated with discussion of where to go from here including possible
actions steps; 2) an assortment of Teambuilding Activities designed to deepen the
trust between group members and facilitate their development as a cooperative
team; 3) the organized Presentation of Content related to skills needed for dialogue
and relationship building as well as issues relevant to the Cyprus Problem; 4) the
implicit challenge and learning involved in Living Together, including all of the
informal contact and discussion that comes with eating, sharing rooms, and
traveling in a group context.
Schedule of Relationship Building Activities:
1.Generate Program Norms: Participation, Respect, Confidentiality
3.Presentation on Listening Skills for Dialogue
1.Dialogue Group: Cultural Similarities and Differences
2.Introduction of Group Mural Process
3.Presentation on Children of War
1.Dialogue Group: Daily Life Issues--Schedules, Teen Interests, etc.
3.Presentation on Violent vs. Nonviolent, Cooperative Relationships
1.Dialogue Group: Generate in caucus & Compare Opposing Stereotypes
3.Presentation on Differing Perceptions: Timeline--Comparative Histories; Old and
Young Lady Picture
1.Dialogue Group: Caucus/share feelings raised by viewing relative history
2.Tennis Workshop/Evening: Rock Dance
3.Youth Activism Panel
4. Hiking, to top of Mountain
4. Shopping Trip to Mall
1.Dialogue Group: Iceberg Model; Ugli Orange Exercise; Generate Dialogue
Environmental Field Trip; Soccer Match: Cyprus vs. Rest of the World
3.Issue Panel: Gay Rights; Film: Our Wall(part 1)
1.Debriefing Teamwork in Ropes Course
All Day Ropes Course
3.Issue/Film: On Tibet; Internet Training
1.Dialogue Group: Discussing List of Questions
3.Film: Our Wall (conclude, discuss feelings)
1.Dialogue Group: Where do we go from here; when we go home
2.Canoeing, Bowling, Mural, African Dance
3.Presentation on Conflict Intervention
1.Dialogue Group: Prepare Group Presentations
2.Finish Mural; Cypriot Festival--Food, Dances, Songs at Open Mic
3.Mural Presentation; Closing Circle; Re-Entry Issues
4. Group Challenges: The Wall; Stuck on You
4. Balloon Volleyball
4. Bonfire with S'mores, Group Singing
4. Canoe Treasure Hunt
4. Disco Dance
Relationship Building Formats:
1. Dialogue Sessions
1.Large Group: Generate Program Norms: Participation, Respect, Confidentiality
2.Dialogue Group: Interviewing Partners, Cultural Similarities & Differences
3.Dialogue Group: Daily Life Issues--Schedules, Teen Interests, etc.
4.Dialogue Group: Generate in caucus & Compare Opposing Stereotypes
5.Dialogue Group: Caucus/share hopes & fears raised by viewing relative histories
6.Dialogue Group: Iceberg Model; Ugli Orange Exercise; Create Dialogue Questions
7.Discuss Teamwork & Trust on Ropes Course
8.Dialogue Group: Discuss List of Questions; Constructive vs. Divisive Dialogue
9.Dialogue Group: What is hard, what heals vs. what goes nowhere re hot topics
10.Dialogue Group: Where do we go from here; when we go home
11.Dialogue Group: Prepare Group Presentations
12.Large Group: Closing Circle (letter to self)
We held Dialogue Groups of twelve to fourteen participants each morning for 90
minutes, the first activity of the day. The groups were each led by two Cypriot and
one American/International staff member.
Dialogue groups were designed as an ongoing, intimate format for exploring the
perceptions of the other side on many tough questions. For example, Greek
Cypriots were able to ask Turkish Cypriot about the destruction of churches in the
north and hear it reframed as what their friends from the north saw more as benign
neglect due to the general poverty of the north. They discussed ways such
misperceptions could be avoided, through videos or visits. Turkish Cypriot youth
were able to ask about such threats as the S-300 missiles and hear the parallel
security fears of their Greek Cypriot friends. Both got to safely see the anger of the
other side and learn new information that surprised them. Both learned to see
when the dialogue was revealing and productive versus stuck in a divisive circle
with no way forward.
In dialogue groups students raised their hopes and fear for Cyprus. Hopes
included a peaceful solution, living together, equal rights, mutual recognition, to
have better trade opportunities, one government, to feel secure not having to fear
leaving the island, to feel more control of themselves and to have the weapons
taken out of the island. Fears included having no solution, war, losing families and
houses, moving to another country, conflicts after a solution and being under the
rule of another group. There really was quite a lot of fear of possible war and
violence expressed in very emotional ways.
Security was a major issue raised as well as the relationship of trust to security,
e.g., "Trusting is hard , but if we have no problems with the other side we will feel
secure." Participants envisioned a land with no political oppression, balanced
economic strength, no crime, no fear of soldiers, no army, no chance of war,
freedom of expression and movement, and not feeling threatened.
The youth discussed movement towards potential solutions of the Cyprus problem.
They discussed the creation of a bizonal federation, being able to visit each other
and have bicommunal meetings, festival and conferences to learn each others
opinions and histories--eventually mixing and living together. When they went
home some said they would talk to politicians--expecially about taking weapons out
of Cyprus--try to meet each other, connect through the internet and come together
as one group to see the mural at the Fulbright Center in the buffer zone.
At the end of the two weeks, campers wrote a letter to themselves, which will be
mailed to them in Cyprus at the end of the summer. In it they reflected on what
they had gained at camp by writing on such topics as: After two weeks at this
camp, I'm feeling... The ideas I want to take home with me to Cyprus are... One
thing I am committed to doing in my community (family, friends) when I return is...
2. Teambuilding Activities
1.Group Games & Challenges
2.Designing & Painting Group Mural
6.Hiking, to top of Mountain
Soccer Match: Cyprus vs. Rest of the World
All Day Ropes Course
10.African Group Dancing
11.Egg Drop - Spaceship Building Challenge
12.Group Challenges: The Wall; Stuck on You
14.Canoe Treasure Hunt
Campers participated in an assortment of teambuilding exercises, usually in the
afternoons and evenings, sometimes as part of recreation activities. The most
formal teambuilding activities where the
low and high ropes
, the internationally known outdoor education
organization that happens to be based in Brattleboro. Campers climbed above ten
to fourteen meters in
, belayed by mountaineering ropes as they faced
dramatic personal and team challenges. Formal teambuilding activities included
group initiatives such as orienteering,
the egg drop activity (in which small teams design a spaceship for an egg out of straw and tape, then see if it flies without the
egg breaking) and lots of work on the mural.
Campers played team sports, notably soccer against students from other countries
who were on campus representing the rest of the World.
first match so much they kept requesting rematches, the second of which was
made possible when the Boston segment was cancelled. Campers learned to play
softball, a comical event with many memorable moments, such as Asim wearing
two mitts and a catchers mask at once, Huseyin swinging one-handed with the bats
and other not knowing when to run or where to throw the ball. Still, repeats of
softball were often requested. Balloon Volleyball, a recommendation to the
students from Ambassador Brill that we added into our 'bonus' weekend on
campus, was a great hit. A tennis workshop motivated some novice racqueteers to
return again and again to check out equipment for further hitting together.
Other typical camp activities, such as canoeing and hiking helped build a sense of
teamwork and group unity. Cyprus' athletes represented her well and won all three
games. Highlighting our evening programs students celebrated with dance,
enthusiastically participating in African dancing led by Marilyn Middleton and a
thoroughly bicommunal disco dance the final night.
3. Presentation of Content
1.Presentation on Listening Skills for Dialogue
2.Introduction of Group Mural Process
3.Presentation of Iceberg Model: Positions vs. Needs & Interests
4.Presentation on Children of War
5.Presentation on Violent vs. Nonviolent, Cooperative Relationships
6.Presentation on Differing Perceptions: Timeline--Comparative Histories;
Old and Young Lady Picture
7.Youth Activism Panel
8.Issue Panel: Gay Rights
9.Film: Our Wall (discuss feelings)
10.Environmental Field Trip: Recycling Facility
11.Issue/Film: On Tibet
14.Re-Entry Issues: Responding to Challenges, Support Needs, Contact with Friends
Presentations of content covered both included skills for dialogue, issues related
directly or indirectly to Cyprus. Students learned dialogue techniques such as
active, respectful listening and the Iceberg Model, which reveals the needs and
interests that often lie beneath an argumentative position. Participants did a
popular bicommunal history "timeline" activity, comparing each communities
significant historic dates, then viewed the bicommunal history "our Wall" and
discussed the feelings both activities raised in them. At the end of the program,
campers received some information and training about how to respond to cultural
and political re-entry issues when they return home. They also got some skills
training for using the internet once back in Cyprus.
Our guest speakers were varied and articulate, including Children of War founder
Judith Thompson, Bill Pelz-Walsh who works locally on violence prevention in
teens and discussed cooperative vs. violent relationships, and Kunchuk Gyaltzen, a
Tibetan Monk who gave a personal introduction to the film "Seven Years in Tibet"
with Brad Pitt (pronounced Peet with great enthusiasm by the girls). A panel
American youth presented their experience in youth action projects in their schools
and communities. A different group of US youth did a presentation on homophobia
and social issues facing gays--a topic the Governor of Vermont's has put notable
effort into this year at the high school level reflecting strong local student interest in
establishing Gay Straight Alliances in their school. An environmental field trip, led
by Professor Alan Hodson of the School for International Training, visited a county
4. Living Together
Evening: Funk Rock Dance
Shopping Trip to Mall
Cypriot 'Festival'--Food, Dances, Songs at Open Mic
Bonfire with S'mores, Folk Singing
As well as formal teambuilding activities, a number of activities were markedly
informal, geared to building relationships in the social context teens most enjoy.
These included less organized sports and outdoor recreational activities, shopping,
dancing and singing together. It is a fine line between what recreational activities
are explicitly team builders and which develop the group bond informally. A bonfire
with s'mores and folksinging is a guaranteed group builder, but it is the most
informal of activities. The highlight of our bonfire was the singing of Dillirga, a
common Cypriot folk song, alternating verses in Greek and Turkish.
Staff Assessment of Program Structure, Content and Participation
The staff of the camp, both Cypriot and American-based, did an oral as well as
written evaluation of the program. What emerged from that discussion were
suggestions about program participation and content, staffing needs, bicommunal
dialogue, issue-oriented presentations and the overall relationship building process.
Schedule: All staff felt it was important if at all possible to have the two groups
arrive on the same day. This provides the maximal opportunity for the groups to
bond equally and earlier. Even if flights are on the same day, it seems unwise
to plan tight international connections as three of the four groups missed flights
this year. The current two week length of the institute feels right to faculty. We
can work at a demanding pace, knowing everyone can recover over the
Size: It was felt that forty was too big for effective large group work and thirty
would be better; some even felt twenty-four was an optimal number of
participants for the program.
Age: It was agreed that fourteen is very young for this work, but maturity is a
more important consideration than actual age.
Selection of Participants: Staff felt perhaps the selection process could be more
personalized, with more serious questions to clarify a participant's level of
maturity and attitude. It was mentioned as important to determine how they will
cope with challenging situations, roughing it, as well as their willingness--if not
necessarily pre-disposition--to undertake bicommunal work. It was felt all, but
by Cypriot staff in particular, that this is a very important and rare opportunity for
developing bicommunal leaders and not one to be wasted on immature or
unmotivated youth. Students should be selected based on their likeliness to be
future leaders. They should not be behavioral problems, shoppers, or
excessively shy and reserved. Some disappointment was expressed by staff
about participants who were selected this year, and this desire for a tighter
selection process was echoed by a trainer from the Seeds of Peace camp who
joined us for the final days of the program.
Orientation in Cyprus: Cypriot staff felt it was important in orientation to to
emphasize the work that will be done at the camps rather than the destination
(the USA) as students should not be coming primarily for shopping and having
fun. To assist in providing a realistic orientation, Fulbright staff should know as
much about the program as possible.
Program Content: It was perceived that we could have spent more time
identifying key threads that ran through many sessions during the two weeks,
such as emphasizing consistent messages about tolerance in all relationships.
The staff though it would be valuable to discuss leadership more explicitly,
perhaps by doing more ropes course work by Project Adventure beginning
earlier in the session.
Staffing Needs: Many suggestions implied the simple need for more time in a
busy schedule, such as a desire for more all- staff meetings in order to more
fully review logistics, process group dynamics, discuss training issues. It was
felt we could have hired one more American staff person to take responsibility
solely for the night shift. Everyone on staff felt a bit over-taxed by the nighttime
maintenance needs of some seemingly tireless and at times even unruly
campers. There were comments from Cypriot staff that Cypriot kids are not
used to rules. Whether it is the age group or Cypriot culture, a high degree of
staff energy was expended simply enforcing the time demands of a typical, if
busy, American camp schedule. There was disagreement among staff about
how important it was to tightly regulate bedtime versus allowing informal
bicommunal discussions to continue--often such late night "bull" sessions are
some of the best dialogues that take place during any residential program.
Bicommunal Dialogue: The Cypriot trainers felt our gradual approach to
dialogue, building trust with less contentious topics and working up to hotter
issues, was culturally appropriate for Cypriots. What we could add to the
dialogue process would be debriefing the days learning at night. They felt
campers were surpirsed by new information they received through dialogue,
even if many remained shy about engaging actively in discussion. The staff
found the identity issues we addressed to be most engaging to the campers,
and highlighted a future needs to identify issues that the youth are really
concerend with, not told to discuss. This implied spending more time on
common concerns of teens, like gender and interpersonal communication
issues, and less time explicitly on the Cyprus Problem. Staff disagreed whether
we could have moved this young a group further into more sophisticated
political analysis and critique.
Issue-Oriented Presentations: Of the presentations at the week, the panel of
teenage American activists was a good, empowering session. It was felt we
could have used more extensive preparation and debriefing for sessions
addressing sensitive issues such as the Gay/Lesbian panel.
The Relationship Building Process: The staff agreed that there was a dramatic
change in the students by the second week. They were more comfortable with
each other. They cared about pronouncing each other's names properly, and
knowing them all. By the end of the program their was a strong sense of group
bonding and real evidence of personal friendships.