Education
 Israel
Project #3967

Youth Encounters at the School for Peace

by American Friends of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam
Vetted

Negotiating Peace – Students from Givat Brener and Nazareth High Schools

The School for Peace began its work over thirty years ago with 'youth encounters'. Most recently, the SFP held a three-day residential encounter for sixty-one 11th graders from Givat Brener School (outside of Rehovot), and Nazareth High School. The students addressed the conflict directly and seriously. Issues of rights and responsibility (army service) are always difficult yet important subjects that they discuss as well as terrorism and violence. The simulations of future agreements and learning how to live together generate new ways of thinking for each participant.

"This experience was different than anything I have experienced in my every-day life. I arrived with a lot of stigmas, like Arabs don't pay taxes and are against the Jews. I was exposed to the ideas and beliefs of the other and their views on the situation. I admit you broke my stereotypes. I now understand that the situation that I thought was complicated is really complex."

Sixty-one Jewish and Palestinian Israelis, all teenagers, took part in a four-day residential youth encounter at Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam. Under the guidance of extensively-trained School for Peace facilitators, these sixty-one young adults experienced the power of dialogue at the School for Peace. These students, from Givat Brener and Nazareth High Schools, developed skills and worked on projects. They argued, they broke bread together and they listened to, and learned from, one another. Their seriousness and commitment was inspiring to their families and their peers as well, as others look forward to having this opportunity. During challenging times, the world needs those with courage to try something new and commitment to put the new skills to work.

“Here in Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, we have one aim: peaceful reconciliation between our two peoples. In order to work fruitfully towards this aim, we need to have mutual understanding and consideration of each other.”
From the (1996) last will of Father Bruno Hussar, founder (in 1976) of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam

Youth Encounters for Engineering students:

The School for Peace meets Jewish and Palestinians participants “where they are.” The Youth Encounter that is usually a residential (at Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam) intensive program with older students from Arab and Jewish high schools, is now being offered over a longer time period to college-age youth.

Currently working with the students at Azrieli College of Engineering. In Jerusalem, the School for Peace brings together Azrieli’s Arab and Jewish student population which includes residents of East Jerusalem and those who are religious and politically conservative. Azrieli College recognized that it was going to be vital to open communications between the two student groups as tensions can often run high. This semester-long course/ encounter enables these students, who will be entering the work world, to understand their Jewish – Arab conflict, and build communication skills in a way that can contribute to reducing the conflict.

The students, who study together for three years, often never interacted with those from the other nationality. For many the program was the first time they openly discussed issues with the other side. Meeting both at Azrieli College and at Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, they spoke about life in East Jerusalem, the Gaza war last summer, discrimination, terrorist activities and many issues that are at the heart of the conflict.

The success of the program has led Azrieli College to request that the School for Peace run the program again next year, doubling the number of meetings.

The School for Peace’s City Planners, Engineers and Architects course for 30 Arabs and Jewish professionals, young adult and experienced alike. The class is shaping up to be a very strong cohort of individuals. The course will continue taking place through the rest of the year with participants meeting once a month to take part in multiple dialogues, educational trips, and developing and implementing their own projects. Their primary goal is the development of an engaged, interactive and long-term network of Palestinian (Christian and Muslim) and Jewish Planners.
The SFP is also excited to announce the very recent news that the Israeli Council on Higher Education has given its final approval to the Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam World Peace College, after a development process that has taken over four years. The World Peace College will be ready to receive its first class of students in 2016!

The School for Peace is excited to announce Harb Amara as the newest member of the team. Harb Amara comes to the School for Peace as their new Program Director. Mr. Amara is no stranger to social change; he has worked with the School for Peace and USAID in the past and is also the head of Community Services and Prevention of Violence in the Family in Nazareth.

“We want to continue to identify potential ways of leading social progress. We know we cannot hold back what happens around us. What we can do is continue seeking solutions and finding partners, seeking what is common to all, joining with other actors who want people to be happier in their lives,” says Mr. Amara.

In April, Simona Susskin, member of the Belgium and European Parliaments, organized a group of 50 Belgium youth studying the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to take part in a School for Peace seminar.

The SFP recently presented on a panel that was titled “Pluralism in Higher Education,” held at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute Conference focusing on advancing higher education in the Arab community. As a result of the conference, the Open University and Azrieli College turned to the SFP to organize courses with their students. Due to the successful nature of past courses and programs, there are plans of renewing the graduate forums in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Nazareth to support graduate run initiatives.

 

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Organization Information

American Friends of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam

Location: Glendale, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.oasisofpeace.org
Project Leader:
Abir Elzowidi
Operations Manager
Sherman Oaks, CA United States

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