The training program introduces the participating teens to the skills and methods for building groups and leading group activities for younger children – activities designed to be fun, egalitarian and cooperative (Palestinian Arabs of Israel/Jews, boys/girls, etc.), in the spirit of our community overall. The participants are meant to evolve into a functional and cohesive working group while learning about a variety of techniques and approaches to games, group discussion, and leadership-building activities. We want to begin now to equip them to build – gradually – a shared bi-national youth culture, with appropriate values, norms, ideals, traditions, rituals and songs. Their training and group-building is envisioned as the foundation for an ongoing inter-generational community life (via the youth center and possibly a youth movement) serving two target groups through the age of 18 and perhaps beyond: one, the village’s own young people, plus (ideally) young people from adjacent communities who have studied at our bi-national primary school and share its ethos.
Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel have chosen to live and work together as equals in this community to promote trust, understanding and mutual respect well beyond its own borders. At Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, the bilingual, bi-national, multicultural Primary School, the School for Peace, the Pluralistic Spiritual Center, and other projects, serve the village and beyond, reaching thousands of Jewish and Palestinian youth and adults.
We hope to create a unified, cohesive group of young leaders; impart leadership, group facilitation and community service related skills; foster the youngster's ability and motivation to create and pursue social initiatives to benefit the entire community, their schools, etc.; integrate the trainees as facilitators, mentors and role models for younger children in the village; provide the trainees with ongoing supervision and enrichment activities.
The training program takes place in a long-term perspective, as the youth who is being trained will still be in contact with the staff and the other young people of the village after the program: they will continue to go to the Youth Club and will work in the NSWAS community. This program is an empowerment program that enables the youth to give back to their community and its children, as well as learning important skills for their future adult’s life.
I am a retired professor, a twenty-five year volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and grandparent. Yet, I cannot imagine my life today, nor that of my family, without Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salem in it. Fourteen years ago, I first set foot in the village’s Primary School and watched Jewish and Arab children from dozens of different villages learning together, not only in both languages but with both narratives. Four days later, I had learned to see the Primary School as the children saw it-just one more reflection of how to live and learn, in a village where everyone was living a model of productive, proactive and peace-focused coexistence.
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