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Semester at Sea Visits Peace Village International

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Erin Walsh
Sep 18, 2013


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Semester at Sea Visits Peace Village International

Semester at Sea participants spent part of a day at a remarkable camp in Oberhausen, Germany. Friedensdorf, or Peace Village in English, provides medical help to children from all over the world who’ve sustained injuries from living in war-torn regions, including Angola and Afghanistan.

Since 1967, Peace Village International has accomplished its goal to help improve the medical and humanitarian conditions in regions of war and conflict. It has done this without political or religious affiliation, and by working under the belief that it can focus on what really matters—the children. Once the children are healed, they are returned to their families.

Semester at Sea participants spent time with the children playing games, drawing pictures, making craft projects, and hearing stories of these children’s lives. SAS students also delivered 900 toothbrushes for Global Grins, an organizations that donates toothbrushes to impoverished persons around the world. Since the children come from different backgrounds and cultures, there isn’t one universal language used yet, as the SAS students experienced, communication occurs regardless. The children are fast learners and pick up bits of language that allow them to interact with each other. By interacting with the children, participants learned about the goals of Peace Village International and felt like they were a part of the overall vision.

Morgan Kemper from University of Georgia delivers 400 of the 900 Global Grins toothbrushes.
Global Grins is dedicated to providing toothbrushes to impoverished persons around the world, many of whom may be receiving their very first toothbrush.
Emily Rapacz from Rocky Mountain College became an impromptu art teacher for some of the Peace Village children.
“It moved me that the kids were happy despite the terrible circumstances that had bought them to Peace Village. Being in a wheelchair myself, from a tragic act of violence, it inspires me,” said Stephanie Cissell of California Lutheran University.
“I thought it was a unique chance to help in a small way and spend time with children who I would not have otherwise had the opportunity to meet,” said Julie Nanavati, Assistant Librarian for the Fall 2013 voyage.
Erin Karpovich from High Point University uses pictures to communicate with the children, all of whom come from different backgrounds and with different languages.
Allei Holway from Bentley College makes a yarn bracelet with her new friend.
It turned out to be a  friendship bracelet using the little girl's favorite colors.
Everyone in the camp uses a different method to communicate. SAS gap-year student, Curtis Mraz, uses his camera  to connect with the children.
Briana Unruh from University of Colorado Boulder (left) and Briana Gaskin from Cornell University (right) help make paper flowers.
William Gorman, voyage psychologist, Mary Louise True from Culinary Institute of America, and Erin Karpovich from High Point University share Polaroid images with the children.
“You could tell that the kids came from serious tragedy and injury, yet they were so genuinely happy to be connecting with people,” explains Megan Schuck, outreach coordinator for the Fall 2013 voyage. “Almost all of us could communicate through arts and crafts. The little girl I was playing with, Lucia, spoke Portuguese. When she found out I could also speak Portuguese and talk to her, she warmed up to me and was the happiest person. After the playground and arts and crafts, that’s when the language barrier really fell. People were playing catch and chase and the kids just wanted to hangout with us.”
Elizabeth Aguiar, of the University of Nevada, Reno, shows that a smile is universal in every language.

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