Facilitator Spotlight: Itamar Cohn

Itamar co-facilitated the 2013 June Practicum on Experiential Peacebuilding (PEP) and will be leading our next PEP in January 2014 in Costa Rica.

ItamarWhere are you from and how do you spend your time?
I’m originally from Israel, though I have lived in different countries and travelled a lot and feel part of a global family rather than one nationality. Recently I moved into a beautiful little mountain in the very North of Israel, where I live in a yurt, part of a humble ecological community. My time is spent being outdoors, reading interesting books that reveal more about humanity from all different aspects, studying, on the phone coaching and supporting the EcoME center and enjoying our beautiful surroundings and neighbors with my partner.

What Outward Bound school is your “home” school?
The High Sierra School in Midpines, California is my home school. I love it, the Sierra Nevada are one of my favorite and most beloved places on Earth. I feel extremely lucky for getting to spend so much time up here with the endless granite mountains, alpine lakes, ancient trees and fresh pure water.

What was your first experience with Outward Bound?
My first experience with Outward Bound was 12-day new staff training in the Sierra Nevada; backpacking and rock climbing. I remember feeling that even though I wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into, this was exactly what I needed and where I needed to be. What struck me most were the values; compassion, integrity, excellence and inclusion & diversity and the commitment to self-improvement through the practice of feedback. From the very first moment I knew that I will stay involved with Outward Bound for many years to come.

What Outward Bound Peacebuilding program did you work?
I recently worked the Practicum on Experiential Peacebuilding in Costa Rica, in the summer of 2013.

Please tell us a favorite story from an Outward Bound Peacebuilding expedition.
One of my favorite moments was at the very end of course, when one of the female participants walked up to me and gave me a gift of a little statuette that represents the image of the strong man in her country. She shared with me that being around me and our talks were the first time that she has ever felt she could be herself and not be defensive around a man. That brought me a lot of joy as I find that peacework between men and women is one of the most needed aspects of our work in these times, and knowing that some of that was able to take place during our course gave me a clear feeling that we did ‘make’ Peace.

What excites you about Outward Bound Peacebuilding?
That it brings together two of the things I am most passionate about; outdoor education and Peacebuilding. I see immense potential in the bringing together of these two disciplines to create experiences of great influence that will change our world for the better.

What are the possibilities you see with Outward Bound Center for Peacebuilding?
The possibilities are endless! Introducing Peacebuilding curriculum into mainstream outdoor education courses, introducing outdoor education components into peace and conflict resolution studies and trainings, in Universities, NGO’s and diplomatic settings, creating more programs that work directly with populations in conflict zones, and finally introducing Experiential Peacebuilding curriculum into the public schools system everywhere.

What does peace mean to you?
Peace is a state of being, it is a state of acceptance and reconciliation with life and its cycles, it is also a state of heart, an openness and a pleasant feeling in the body. Peace has clarity and patience even when things seem ‘wrong’. Peace is an evolving consciousness that we are discovering.

Itamar Cohn is a co-founder of the EcoME Center – an educational center bringing together Israelis, Palestinians and internationals to research and learn about the connections of personal, social and environmental peacework and sustainability. He received his bachelor degree in outdoor education from Trinity University College, Wales. Over the years he has experimented with outdoor education around the world. From the UK he led youth development expeditions to Latin America. While in Israel he worked as an instructor for an environmental education boarding school with teens and as a rehabilitation challenge course instructor for mentally challenged children. In the south of India he piloted an outdoor environmental education program with tribal children. In the last four years he has worked as a wilderness instructor for Outward Bound in California. His paper ‘Indigenous ways – Fruits of our ancestors’ was published in the Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning. Itamar is currently studying for a master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Management, continuing to serve EcoME in an active role, living life in a simple ecological way and joining the Outward Bound Peacebuilding family.