Each summer Hands of Peace brings a group of Jewish-Israeli, Palestinian Citizens of Israel, and Palestinian teenagers to Chicago and San Diego for a 19-day, dialogue-based experience with one another, as well as with a comparable number of American teens from Jewish, Christian, Muslim and other faith backgrounds. Our program teaches team-building and leadership skills, helps the participants learn about different cultures and religions, guides them in learning about the conflict from different points of view, and encourages them to take action to incorporate peace-building into their personal lives.
Because Hands of Peace is a dialogue-based program, there are dialogue sessions almost every day. During these structured sessions, which are led by professional facilitators, the participants get to know each other, share their personal stories about the conflict, hear how the conflict has impacted others, explore complicated and painful issues from many different angles, and discuss their ideas about what could bring about peace, equality, and justice.
The Summer Program also provides American host families with an extraordinary opportunity to build strong, long-lasting relationships with teens from the Middle East, and learn about the conflict on a very personal and powerful level. Each year, about 30 local host families at each site are involved.
Never in a million years did I imagine that I would have Palestinian friends. But because of HOP, no longer do I think of them as one foreign group, but rather as my friend Mohannad who likes basketball, my friend Leen who is amazing at dabka, my friend Mayar who, just like me, likes to watch How I Met your Mother, and so many more!
Jason, American participant