I arrived at the Olympic Youth Peace Ambassadors (OYPA) seminar in the late evening together with Ayelet Tapiro, Friends of the Earth Middle East’s community coordinator from Emek Hefer Regional Council. The fact that all the participants stayed together in one hotel, on the same floor and the same rooms were close to each other, made me feel good and confident at the beginning of the seminar. This feeling accompanied me during the entire stay. Almost each day started with a bus ride to the seminar location, hosted by the Sikh community in Southall, London. There we ate traditional food, we met community leaders and we enjoyed the yoga classes in the mornings with the head of the first Olympic seminar Gordon Silence. Along with Gordon the success of the seminar was managed by Steve DeVoss, President and CEO of the company Global Sports Partners and Darryl Macer from UNESCO. I am thankful to all three of them for a wonderful teaching and inspiring experience.
The seminar had several goals and undetook a number of events. The main purpose was to train you to be Peace Ambassadors. Throughout the seminar we go to know the other youth from many countries all over the world and met peacemakers and world experts who shared with us their experience and advice. At the end of the seminar we asked to prepare action plans to promote peace in our countries, which we will all work towards completing.
Another goal is to promote awareness about the Olympic Truce, the ancient 9th century BC Greek tradition of Ekecheiria (“Olympic Truce”), calls for a truce during the Olympic Games to encourage a peaceful environment and ensure safe passage and participation of athletes and relevant persons at the games, thus mobilizing the youth of the world in support of peace. To promote awareness of the Olympic Truce we headed to the Olympic Park where we conducted a survey asking the question,
“Who heard of the Olympic Truce?” (About 2-3% of 1024 people were surveyed).
The seminar ended with a peace festival, which included a performance of an Indian dance for peace, a music performance of the traditional band Sikh, tree planting and presentation of action plans.
With my return to Israel I began preparing the action plans and on continuing, to carry it out along with the help of Tal Shamir, the FoEME community coordinator in my community in Eshkol Regional Council. My action plan I designed for you and includes a series of meetings, which include, guided imagery, role playing and artistic activities on peace and the presence of youth in the neighboring communities in the Gaza Strip. Activities will be in the Eshkol community and in our neighboring community in Gaza. There will be an exchange of the products of activity between the two communities and an exhibition of the results.
Thank you to Friends of the Earth Middle East who sent me to the seminar and to all the people who helped me and took part in this process: Ayelet Tapiro, Tal Shamir and Amy Lipman-Avizohar.
This post was contributed by Lilach Ben Arie, a FoEME Youth Water Trustee from Eshkol Regional Council and OYPA Youth Peace Ambassador.