Student sows seeds of peace
North Shore Country Day School senior Darling Kittoe (left) at the Seeds of Peace International Camp this summer in Maine. | Courtesy of www.seedsofpeace.org
Updated: February 19, 2013 3:58PM
WINNETKA — As an eighth-grader Darling Kittoe was inspired by two high school seniors who shared their experiences of the Seeds of Peace International Camp with her class.
Kittoe, now a senior at North Shore Country Day School, applied for the same trip her sophomore year, but wasn’t chosen.
“I knew I still had more to learn,” Kittoe said. “I became more involved in other service learning through community service projects.”
Kittoe joined the non-profit Shoes for Liberia as a student ambassador to help provide shoes to children affected by war. She again applied for a Seeds of Peace scholarship, this time being accepted for the trip in March 2012.
Kittoe’s parents moved to the United States in 1995 to escape the war-torn nation of Liberia. Kittoe, who was born in the United States, began researching world conflicts in preparation for her trip, which began in late June.
At the Seeds of Peace camp in Maine she spent three weeks living and learning with 200 young people from all over the world.
The camp dealt with two specific regions of the world, the middle east and south Asia. The students bunk and eat together and spent hours each day engaged in dialogue with each other.
“That’s the most important part of camp,” Kittoe said. “You come together with 15 other teens from a conflict region. Teens kind of come together and you start to see the views of other people. In the beginning I was very nervous. I was not sure how I could bring an opinion from the north shore coming from a sheltered community.”
Originally shy at the dialogue sessions, Kittoe was moved by camp Assistant Director Wil Smith, who said, “You have to go to war with yourself before you make peace with someone else.”
After the talk, Kittoe began to value her opinion more and was able to open up with her fellow students. She used her family’s personal experiences to help join the discussions as well.
“You kind of see from (my parents) the impact war can have on a country and its citizens,” Kittoe said. “You become friends with these kids who back home saw us as an enemy. We look beyond a country, government and religion.”
Kittoe still speaks with several people she met on her trip, including “bunk nights” through Skype with the people she now calls “her sisters.”
“You see firsthand what people are going through around the world,” Kittoe said. “I learned to be a voice and an active participant for change. You can’t really solve a problem without talking or understanding the impact it has on people.”