Bridging Gaps at the School for Peace
Not just anybody can bring Jewish and Palestinian youth together to engage in dialogue, role play, and the forming of a shared commitment to peaceful action. The Youth Encounter Workshops at require properly trained and committed facilitators.
Which is why the School for Peace runs intensive, four-month-long facilitator training programs. The most recent one came to a close in February: 15 participants (6 Arab and 9 Jewish participants) completed the course, which was led by Dr. Nava Sonnenschein, director of the School for Peace, and psychologist Wasim Birumi.
The participants attended lectures, received academic reading material, and had intense group discussions on aspects of the Jewish-Arab conflict and the role their own identities plays within it.
They also learned the skills needed for reaching out to groups in conflict through peer facilitation — the very work that is done in the Youth Encounter Workshops. During the training course, participants kept a diary on their experiences and analyzed the process they went through.
These newly trained facilitators began the course with different levels of experience in the field of conflict resolution, yet they all left with an enlarged awareness of the issues of the conflict, their own identities, and a greater skill set to drawn on when working with groups in conflict.
One Arab participant said, “The workshop clarified my own identity and belonging to my people. I am happy and proud that I made this important step in my life. Through this course, I became more knowledgeable and feel a responsibility to my people. Today I am more committed to help them strengthen their identity.”
And a Jewish participant said, “I feel the course is the beginning of a long journey. The first part has exposed me to many voices, feelings, information. I want to re-examine what I have learned and how I previous perceived the situation. I have new eye glasses for seeing our reality in Israel. My view on the conflict between the two people has widened.”