ICAF’s Peace Through Art Methodology, developed jointly with the Center for the Study of Mind and Human Interaction at the School of Medicine, University of Virginia2, is based on the power of the arts as a tool for healing and communication, the most current psychiatric research on dealing with conflicts and trauma, and the ethics of responsibility in an interdependent world. The basic approach is to acknowledge the actual experiences of the children, a reactivation of these experiences through artistic expression and articulation, so that an extension is possible and the opportunity for new experiences arise. Art workshops, peace education and leadership training are organized under the following four sequential modules:
Learning through Experience, where participants learn to understand their response to conscious and subconscious resistance and trauma, some of which are reflected in their art;
Conflicts and Ethics, where they learn the reasons for conflict and methods to alleviate tension through artistic expression;
Creativity for Peace, where they learn how to use the arts for self-esteem and confidence building, and they collaboratively create works of art so they can experience the power of their collective creativity; and
Role Models for Society, where they learn the importance of building a civil and democratic society; and applying their own creativity to build a vision of peace and coexistence in their communities.
The Peace Through Art Methodology was applied by ICAF on youth from twenty youth Cyprus. Ten Greek-Cypriots and ten Turkish-Cypriots, who live on the opposite sides of the ‘Green Line’ that has divided the island since 1974, met each other for the first time on July 1, 2002 in Washington, DC. For three weeks they stayed together and ate together, while attending daylong workshops and sometime taking time off to visit the monuments and museums, or going shopping. The Cyprus Fulbright Commission, the main financial supporter of the program, selected the participants on the basis of their interest and talent in the arts. Hence the arts were the common thread between the two groups, who are otherwise hostile to each other because they feel they have little or nothing in common.