What if you had to be roommates with your enemy? That’s the idea behind a unique school in Italy. When students find calm away from conflict and ancient hatreds, the school has found, there is space to find peace.
As conflicts rage around the world, there is a place of calm in Italy, a medieval citadel where students come to learn how to overcome the differences that have divided them. And, hopefully, make peace with each other.
They come together to undertake a two-year study and cohabitation program with a person whom history and politics have labeled as their “enemy,” and learn how to deconstruct and defang their hatred and conflict. Then they return to their countries of origin as agents of peace.
Russians and Ukrainians, Israelis and Palestinians, Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Muslims – over 1,000 students have graduated from this unique program since it launched in 1997. Next year’s intake will include American and Canadian students ready to engage in a dialogue with their Indigenous counterparts.
“We didn’t want to build a Utopian place where students could pretend war doesn’t exist,” explains Franco Vaccari, co-founder and president of the school, called Rondine. “We wanted, rather, to create a neutral ground, away from the chaos of their homelands … where our students could focus on a peaceful dialogue.”
The campus of Rondine is immersed in the woods outside the Tuscan city of Arezzo. Rondine is a unique school in Italy, where students from opposing sides of wars and conflicts live and study together.
By Stefania D’IgnotI, contributor
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