Two of our interns are sharing their experiences during the youth conference on peace & sustainability on the 10th and 11th of December.
I visited the EcoPeace office in Tel Aviv with another friend, Ahmad, from GWN and we broke the tension barrier!!!
We met awesome and nice people; they gave us such great hospitality. Then we went to HaKfar HaYarok (The Green Village) north of Tel Aviv to participate in a conference on peace and sustainability at The Eastern Mediterranean International School.
We met beautiful people from all over the world, attended and participated in very valuable seminars and workshops which gave us more knowledge, and participated in a simulation about conflict resolution; relating it to the current situation and discussing how to deal with it in a positive way.
Finally, I would say that even in this current situation, NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE!
The Eastern Mediterranean International School (EMIS) is a place that truly fosters the spirit and passion that are inherent in this special group of young people. EMIS is an International Baccalaureate school at HaKfar HaYarok (The Green Village) north of Tel Aviv that focuses on peace and sustainability along with cultivating innovation in a challenging academic environment.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to spend an afternoon visiting with some of these inspirational young people from all over the world on the day of the opening ceremonies for their inaugural Youth Conference on Peace and Sustainability (YOCOPAS). The school was buzzing with excitement and preparation for all the myriad important visitors who would be arriving to discuss youth leadership, dialogue facilitation, conflict resolution, environmental sustainability and much more. A couple of girls who didn’t have pressing commitments in the hours leading up to the opening ceremony gave us a tour of their campus and the surrounding Kfar, of which the students are also able to take advantage. There is a newly built music center, with an entire building dedicated exclusively to classical music. They have horse stables and a riding area, a petting zoo and a dairy farm. Many of the EMIS students spend time with the animals. We were told that if you help in the stables you get free riding lessons. The girls also mentioned that most of the student body became vegan last year because of their close proximity to the cows.
The YOCOPAS events started in the early evening with the opening ceremony. There were remarks by the head of the school, Oded Rose, and a few other important stakeholders in the school. The students also announced the awards for their international writing competition in which they had at least 50 submissions from a variety of countries. The main event of the evening was the keynote speech by Prof. Jay Rothman of Bar-Ilan University. He’s an expert in Conflict Resolution and spoke about his path towards having a PhD in the field. It was an engaging speech, with audience participation and captivating stories. My favorite part was when he gave us the task to find one word about why we were at the conference. Then he had a few people provide their word which he wrote on a whiteboard. Only at the end of his speech he explained why he wanted to hear some words from the audience. He connected all of the words into an inspirational sentence: “Our journey into perspective taking will foster understanding in order to assure our future and provide opportunity for hope.”
As I was leaving the filling and spirited dinner I thought about how I didn’t want to leave. The school, partners and students were all so inspirational. I wish that I could have gone to a school like EMIS. But after spending a number of hours with the students and staff at their beautiful campus I know that each and every one of them will take full advantage of all the incredible opportunities that surround them and going forward they will be leaders in peace and sustainability. It gave me hope for the future to see so many people dedicated to the mission of EMIS and I will be watching to see where the graduates end up.