For the past nine years High 5 has collaborated with the School for International Training (SIT) through their Youth Peace Building and Leadership Programs. Participants come from countries around the world that are in conflict and at war, including; Protestants and Catholics from Northern Ireland, Jews and Arabs from Israel and Palestine, Bosnians and Serbians, Turkish and Greek Cypriots, and Sunnis and Shiites from Iraq.
These student exchanges provide these visiting young people with a deep and meaningful introduction to American life, culture, and institutions. Through hands-on, interactive experience, students learn to communicate across cultures and develop critical thinking and leadership skills that will last a lifetime.
A key component of their experience during the program is their experience at High 5, to "put into action" all the skills they have been learning in the program. Students are placed in mixed groups comprised of half of their own culture and half from the other. Throughout the program they engage in a variety of experiential education and challenge course activities designed to accentuate positive communication and cooperation.
The energy, enthusiasm and care for one another that becomes a part of this experience is truly heartwarming. Following are excerpts from a letter written to our director:
I am writing this letter on the behalf of all the Serbian pupils who attended the team building day. We want to express our gratitude to the instructors of High 5 for welcoming and teaching us a lot during only one day.
Few months ago to the pupils in seven cities in Serbia was offered a program referring to development of leadership skills, team work and tolerance. This was to happen in America. Among more than 300 pupils only 27 of us was chosen. During the month which we are spending here, organizators are developing in us all of above mentioned skills through the workshops. One of those workshops was ropes course, that contributed a lot to the program, as well as to every one of us. We spent the day in the nature, divided into three groups. Each group had its personal instructor who was the one who challenged us during the day. When we first went to the hill, most of us were really excited, but there were few of them discouraged and the ones who didn't believe in themselves. Speaking from my own experience, it was really hard to climb a tree and to walk on the rope, but thankfully to the support not only of my group, but of all three of them I succeeded, but my example is only one among bunch of them. Not only that we supported each other, but we realized that a goal can be accomplished if a group cooperate, listen and respect each other. Without that every job is useless. To prove that obstacles can be exceeded, even the hardest ones I will write about one experience of my group. At the end we were challenged to cross over high wall without any help, except ourselves. Maybe it sounds easy, but when the wall is higher than 3 and you don't have any equipment, you can only use your head! Thankfully to the great cooperation and the experience which we gain during the day we succeeded! I am sure that it is probably very hard for someone who wasn't there to understand all my words and feelings, as it is hard for me to find the right words, as this experience can only be felt. Once again we thank you for your warm welcoming and we look forward working with you again!
Your Serbian Group!!!!!!