Global Youth Village:
An international camp legacy being carried forward

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      Twenty five years ago, in 1979 on 85 acres in rural Virginia, J.E. Rash first acted on his vision to found what he’d name “Legacy Summer Programs,” an arm of his larger work which would be “Legacy International.” This pioneer wanted to pass on to youth, ages 13 to 18 years, the best in education, dialogue, and conflict resolution, and the practical application of values-based, spiritual perspectives to contemporary issues. This program was a forerunner deserving thanks for the present-day North American camps that continue to serve the Middle East public peace process.

      By 1981, Rash already had a strong desire to expand the new program to an international focus. Always attentive in his life to the Middle East conflicts, by 1983 he began inviting Palestinian and Jewish Israeli youth to his safe Virginia retreat, four hours’ drive from Washington, DC, between Lynchburg and Roanoke.

      In the early years, the camps were recreational and residential, with a focus on cross-cultural understanding. By 1985 the three-week sessions added a 40-hour content-based component: ­ workshops on dialogue and conflict resolution so effective that they were sending Palestinian-Jewish teams to other camps to lead Dialogue during 1986 thru 1991. “The Dialogue Summer Tour” went to religious and non-religious camps to help teens dispel stereotypes and concretize ideas about what real peace would look like and would ask of people who wanted to support it.

      1985 was also International Year of the Youth. With a grant from the Near East Division of USAID, the camp began a Mediterranean Youth Environmental Training Program, with the global living system as unifying principle and theme. Youth came together from 15 nations across the Middle East and beyond.

      In time, the international aspect expanded from the Jewish-Palestinian population to include Northern Ireland, South Africa, and many other multi-national groups. And “Legacy Summer Program” became “Global Youth Village.”

      During these same years ­- 1986-1991 ­- Legacy and its youth trainees from the Middle East helped create city-wide interfaith Dialogues on the Middle East in cooperation with non-profit organizations in Pittsburgh, Penn. Legacy also initiated adult programs in Washington, DC, and sent traveling teams of American Palestinians and Jews to study successful coexistence projects in the Middle East.

      In the early '90s, Legacy International's "Global Youth Village" provided content and inspiration for the founders of the next generation of camps -- Seeds of Peace, in 1993, and Building Bridges for Peace, in 1994 -- the first of a growing number of North American camps that would continue serving the Middle East public peace process.

      In 2004 Legacy International celebrated its 25th anniversary of touching the lives of 2,500 participants from 105 nations. From 1983 until 1993, Legacy especially dedicated itself to a decade of peace education focused worldwide yet strongly on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Legacy International and its Global Youth Village continue bringing together youth and others from many conflicted regions, including periodically the Middle East, to begin a process of personal healing with tools for constructing new senses of purpose and hope, described on the Web at .

      There is now a family of over a dozen camp programs -- -- that serve the Middle East and other public peace processes. Thanks to Lecacy's legacy.

Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group
1448 Cedarwood Drive, San Mateo, CA 94403
Voice: (650) 574-8303 -- Fax: (650) 573-1217

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