The students of Exeter showed us how a conflicting history does not mean crippled relationships.

Makoto Irisumi and Linda Gu are just one example. “My father has prejudice against the Japanese from his history books but the rest of my family is not like this,” said Linda. “We like their environmental respect and we think it is a country we should learn from. We all know history has conflict. But we are changing and developing. We cannot change history but can learn from it.”

Makoto nods and adds, “Some Japanese people think that Chinese visitors are noisier than themselves but I think that we actually are introverts when we meet new people. They are much more welcoming.”

Another pair would be Doğa Nurse and Anastasia Fountas, from Turkey and Greece. “It is fun because our cultures have so many difference yet so many similarities. For example, many people say that we are loud but Turks are too!” says Anastasia and adds, “We still don’t agree on everything and now there is a huge fight in politics but once you start building friendships, you pass everything.”

We also had courses about creating diverse, culturally aware, peaceful and just societies. Mr. Skulstad-Brown from the Bridging Cultures class says, “When we learn one another’s stories, a lot of the things that separate us disappear. Exeter Summer does an impressive job in making diverse students come here. What goes on here is helping people to know themselves better and become agents for change.”

On days like the International Assembly, when you see a melting pot of different cultures celebrate each other’s values and traditions, regardless of social or political beliefs, it can truly be seen as a celebration of humanity.

One of the most infamous rivalries between two countries that has persisted through time is India and Pakistan. Recently, the conflict between these two countries has stemmed from the Kashmir, an area between India and Pakistan that is abundant with resources that both countries feel is part of its territory. However, students from India and Pakistan think that both countries have their faults and that such bitterness will not lead to any progression for society.

“In terms of the conflict over Kashmir, I don’t believe that it should belong to India or Pakistan.” said Sidra Khan, an upper school student from Pakistan.  “Instead, it should be an undisputed territory by itself. The rivalry itself goes back for generations but as the youth I don’t see any difference. I just think ‘Hello, my fellow brown friend,” she joked.

“It just doesn’t make anymore sense,” adds Rahul Kalavagunta, an upper school  student from India. “Like when the separation into India and Pakistan and Bangladesh occurred, that was understandable but it has been more than half a century. I just don’t understand it at this point.”

In  1918, Germany said to “Bleed France to Death” during the German Spring Offensive. However, a century later in 2018, the two rivals have buried all hostilities and are allies, with strong bonds being reflected in friendships in Exeter Summer. Take a look at Marguerite Thomas and Anka Colsman.“Looking back at history, I think it is incredible how far we have come, as two allies and I think a place like Exeter Summer helps build bonds and friendships that are integral to a unity between nations, “ said Marguerite.

It is not just close relationships that show us about how far and little politics should go. Many of Exeter Summer’s activities promote peace and equality even though the battles outside rage on. The assembly about the Middle East, for instance, showed how our consciously delayed peace talks were harming millions. Our affinity groups would make a great example here, while many of us are relatively educated and continue the fight against all sorts of discrimination, the real world still treats different races unequally. While we did have a cast as diverse as the United States in “Almost, Maine”, the actual movie industry is much far from giving everyone equal chances of representation.

Even though the 100th Exeter Summer session is nearing its end, the obstacles against peace are not. And that’s why we are counting on you. Go ahead. Make this world a better place.