Archives For Leadership Group


by Nicole and Ayyoub, Muslim Participants, Jerusalem and USA

Today we started the morning with delicious waffles. After that we had a Courage workshop put on by the junior counselors, Jiries and Christina. During the workshop, we had to admit our own fears to ourselves, and then some people admitted them to the whole group.

At the same time, we sent four people to continue editing the videos we took on our cameras with Gordon. We also did mini interviews with each camper.

Later after the break, we had an Etiquette session with Jude in which we learned how to introduce others and ourselves, how to communicate with new people, and deal with awkward moments.

We worked on our improvisation skills, and about resolving conflicts. We talked about different prejudices in society like racism and sexism and made groups for skits that we will preform on Sunday.11754561_918370454886246_3280295842532938881_o

After lunch, we had our last unit of Leadership with Jack. Using our conflict resolution and mediation skills, we began coming up with our own peace plans for the Holy City of Jerusalem. It took some time and we plan to continue our work on them tomorrow.
For dinner we enjoyed some great grilled chicken and salad, and then we had an art session with Stuart. We made little cut outs of the word “peace” in Hebrew, Arabic and English.11728705_918370334886258_4239331381902999342_o

And to end the night, we climbed a mountain in the dark, WHILE BLINDFOLDED!!!!! It was very challenging, but we all made it and came together in the end. We sat around a bonfire, just to rest and sing. The counselors gave us talismans to take home and always remember this leadership camp and the struggles we overcame together.”

by Yazan, Muslim participant, Jerusalem

11794441_915451221844836_3137224644963309201_oToday I got up particularly early for a morning shower. For breakfast, I warmed up a couple of pieces of toast. The day was made of dialogue sessions, at least one session with a guest speaker, lunch and dinner, swimming, and outdoor activities, as well as card games and throwing around a frisbee. We began the day with a challenging teambuilding activity, where we had to hold hands in a big circle and pass two hula-hoops around. The activity required lots of communication.

One of the highlights of this camp so far, Bill Cusano and his three volunteer assistants came to work with us all the way from New York City. They spoke to us about a project called the “Elijah” project, and presented each of us campers with a video camera, provided by sponsors that have a lot of faith in what we are doing and are looking forward to seeing the videos that we will be making. The videos will be about the ‘3 Sabbaths’, referring to the holy days of Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the three Abrahamic religions.11722055_915451281844830_3713642335937427211_o

We then had a session with Jeanie, a family therapist who told us about her career, and a couple of extremely meaningful stories of how important the ‘lens’ we wear are, meaning how much a perspective of things can vary from one person to another. One’s curse may be another’s blessing.

11722419_915451251844833_496912809283893935_oAfter a small break, we had a great lunch of kosher hamburgers and hotdogs. Our camp had many guests, which was very interesting since each camper had one guest to sit with while we ate our amazing food. The other Muslims and I (including an Imam, who was also our guest), prayed the significant Friday prayer for Muslims, which is taken as a day of rest in the Muslim world.

Afterwards, I met another Palestinian man, who is a friend of Fr. Nicholas, from a city in the West Bank called Jenin, which also happens to be where my great-grandmother lives. We had a very educational and meaning session with Youssef Bashir, a man from Gaza who came to tell us his first-hand account of his childhood and his very forgiving, peaceful father, who had forgiven the Israeli soldiers who nearly killed him, used his home as a military base, and in fact shot him in the back. We were all puzzled. How could one forgive someone after going through all that? This was something Youssef himself had to learn and understand over a long time.


It cannot be easily expressed how life changing that morning was alone. ‘Seeing things in another perspective’ is indeed transformational. I’m not sure how many of us can develop as people without discussing the things we did today at camp
Our daily leadership skills program focused on Dignity. We talked about what Dignity is, the difference between Dignity and Respect, what are the essential elements of dignity, and what can violate one’s dignity. We then went up to swim in the pond, had our Jewish Shabbat prayers and ceremony with Rabbi Michael. After dinner, we had a very deep and meaningful dialogue session, where we talked about personal experiences when our own dignity was violated. We heard and shared many emotional, sad, and moving experiences that we had experienced.

by Leah, Kids4Peace Summer Intern

Last night, North Carolina sixth grade, North Carolina Leap, and Leadership left for the States. We are so excited to start off our fourteenth summer of sending Kids4Peace participants to America! At midnight, sixty five participants left with smiles on their faces, eager to begin their journeys to camp and for what the next nearly three weeks have in store for them. Montaser Amro, the Muslim advisor for Leap proudly reported, “I’ve known these kids for two years, and I’ve never seen them so excited.”

jz0AlOn the way into the airport, the sixth grade bus got pulled over by security. In Kids4Peace, we identify as Jews, Christians, and Muslims, but our countries and the conflict identify us in ways that separate us, sometimes making it difficult for us to fly together.

We are Israeli citizens, Palestinian citizens, Jordanian citizens, refugees, and people without citizenship. Yet, miraculously, we always somehow fly together, despite the differences our society identifies us with.

Rebecca Sullum, Kids4Peace co-director, said after spending the evening at Ben Gurion Airport with the youth, “Airport security thinks that all they’re doing is security, but I know that what they’re really doing is education.”

Luckily, once we got to the airport, all sixty five participants and staff members boarded the plane in one piece. They have landed in Germany and are now on the second leg of their flight to America.

The summer starts at the airport, and just from the participants’ high spirits, we can already tell that the next few weeks will be an incredible experience for us all. We can’t wait to see what this summer will bring Kids4Peace! #SummerOfHope2015

On the 19th of February Sarah a Jewish advisor at K4P led an introduction to YaLa Young Leaders to the Leadership group.

She introduced the topic by asking them to talk about social media and the way they use technological tools. Facebook was the most popular tool as noted by the group. They used it to stay connected to their friends. Sarah then explained how something like Facebook can be used for so much more than that, emphasising its unique platform as a place of freedom of speech, cooperation and exchange. Sarah then spoke about how YaLa was formed; after the Arab Spring and the rising social justice protests taking place in Israel, social media, Facebook in particular became a key tool for the communication and expression of those people involved, it gave an outlet the social movements of the time. Uri Savir, founder of YaLa Young Leaders felt that peace in the Middle East rested with the youth of the region, not with the political elite. This thought was the driving force behind the setting up of a Facebook page; Today less than 3 years later, 440,000 young people are using the page from all over the Middle East and Northern Africa. The page has become a place where youth can meet, debate, discuss and often disagree.

Another interesting thing that Sarah spoke about was its Online University. The desire for access to good education was an expressed interest of many of the youth. In 2013 YaLa launched its own Online University. Over 300 students from across the region have participated in free online classes from well-known established Universities. This in itself has shown how Facebook as a technological tool can have a far reaching social impact. The internet does not work from borders it works sharing information freely and without discrimination.

The group were then afforded the opportunity to meet one of those students. She was Tunisian, her name was Rahma and she spoke of being an active member of YaLa, She spoke though Skype, she introduced herself and fielded questions from the group. The group were very keen to know her thoughts on the revolution and the new constitution. Rahma answered all the questions the group had for her. When asked why she was interested in Israel and Palestine she responded that she is a humanist who feels concerned each time there is suffering in the world.

The second part focused on blogging. YaLa host an online blogging platform known as the YaLa Café, approximately 60 young people aged 20-30 years contribute twice a week. Sarah spoke about some of the topics the contributors would focus on; gender equality, peace, politics, check points, religion and identity. Sarah then held a discussion where the group exchanged their feelings about these blogs, these particular themes. The group was very sensitive to the particular topics that are popular amongst the bloggers.

Sarah then asked the group to write an individual ‘blog post’. Everybody wrote a piece, for now they choose not to share them publicly but they were amazing pieces. Topics included; peace, fear and gender inequality to name but a few.

The session concluded on the note that the peace community is bigger than it sometimes seems to those of us working on the ground. The internet is one tool that we can harness for our cause, encouraging new ways to communicate and cooperate.

Maybe someday our youth will want to publically share their stories or testimonies and they may choose to do that through YaLa Café.