Sixteen girls straggle in, a few at a time, from a long morning of poignant and difficult conversation. They are greeted by house mothers who seem to know exactly who needs a hug at this precise moment. The girls themselves exchange tears and laughter. And even amid obvious wrestling with what they have just shared and witnessed in dialogue, a tender affection fills the air. Music comes on. A few girls set about doing chores. In the living room, three take turns with a hula hoop. In the bedroom next door, several sing along as one plays guitar. Each girl makes a point of thanking me and my colleague — the volunteers who brought them lunch this day.

Surrounding us is the quiet red rock expanse of northern New Mexico. The program: Creativity for Peace, a youth dialogue camp involving therapeutic art...

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