Assessing the Long-Term Impact of 'Peace Camps' on Youth Attitudes and Behaviors: The Case of Ethno-Political Conflict in Sri Lanka
13 Pages Posted: 6 May 2003
Date Written: 2003
Across various international and intra-national conflict arenas in the world, institutions dedicated to promoting peace and reconciliation have emerged. In particular, a number of Non-Governmental Organizations have begun to sponsor "peace workshops" that invite children and young adults from the warring communities to participate in "peace camps" geared towards creating greater trust and empathy between the two sides of the conflict. Our study was designed to answer the question: do these peace camps have any effect in the long run? Specifically, we evaluated one particular "peace camps" program organized in Sri Lanka that brings together Sinhalese and Tamil students of high-school age for a 4-day workshop. The results of our study indicate that those who had participated in the peace camp showed greater empathy (than did non-participants) for members of the other ethnicity - even one year after they had attended the camp. There was no effect of participation on attitudes related to trust or social distance. Furthermore, consistent with the attitudinal data, when given an opportunity to anonymously donate money (with which they were endowed) to help poor children of the "other" ethnicity, participants donated a higher percentage than those who had not participated in the peace camp. The results and some implications are discussed.
Keywords: Trust, Peace Camps, Ethnic Conflict, Empathy
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