Shirley here. I’m paging furiously through my last spiral notebook to see what I had to say about our final HONEY BROWN EYES panel–which seems so long past, but wasn’t really, not even two weeks ago! My notes are minimal, as that afternoon I’d stepped into the moderating position–a chair which Ari usually fills so assuredly and effortlessly that my initiation into the post was inevitably nerve-wracking–but I got through it, many thanks to our dynamic panel guests.
Our final talk was titled: Post-Conflict Reconciliation in the Balkans. In preparation I looked up this word “reconciliation”. The legal definition explains it thus: Reconciliation: The restoration of peaceful or amicable relations between two individuals who were previously in conflict with one another. Reconciliation ordinarily implies forgiveness for injuries on either or both sides.
Based on the conversations we’d had surrounding HONEY BROWN EYES up to this point, this sort of harmony is yet to be achieved in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In fact the Bosnians we’ve spoken to seemed skeptical at best that they’d get there anytime soon.
So what of the discussion?
We’d gathered an inspiring group who, driven by their experiences and commitment, came across as simultaneously clear-eyed and hopeful:
•Laura Zam, solo-performance artist and writer who worked with young people in Bosnia through the Seeds of Peace Organization
•Andy Shallal, who co-founded several peace movement organizations, holds leadership positions in numerous others and is a Peace Fellow for Seeds of Peace.
•Andrea Powell: Co-founder and Executive Director of FAIR Fund, an organization working internationally to engage youth, especially young women, in civil society in the areas of anti-human trafficking, domestic violence and sexual assault prevention, and the development of youth capacity-building programs.
•Alison Sluiter, Outreach Coordinator for the Srebrenica Quilt, The Advocacy Project
The group started off by agreeing that HONEY BROWN EYES successful portrayed “the collective experience of war”. Each panelist then spoke of their own efforts to provide some relief for those suffering as a result of this experience of war. Andy Shallal increased dialogue and conversation between young people in a program facilitated by Seeds of Peace. Laura Zam engaged in community building and trauma recovery in the region through the use of storytelling/drama, also with Seeds of Peace. Alison Sluiter’s organization The Advocacy Project has paired with Bosfam to promote and advocate their work with the Srebrenika and other memorial quilts. And Andrea Powell shared riveting stories about her work through Fair Fund with young women–teaching them beading and jewelry-making skills to keep them off of the streets and out of the hands of human-traffickers.
This was a hopeful finish to our marathon of panel programming. What next? Plans for the VOICES FROM A CHANGING MIDDLE EAST panels are brewing as we speak…