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By Jordan Derbas



Encinitas, Calif. – October 20, 2017

Now that school is back in full-throttle, and everyone is getting accustomed to new schedules and classwork, it seems as if the memory of the summer program is fading further from our reach. On Sunday, October 15th, participants from the 2017 summer program, both XLs and Hands, were able to reunite and reflect on their experiences.

The participants were joined by a group of familiar faces: family members, volunteers, board members, host families, and people from the community who were interested to hear about the Hands of Peace experience. Sarah Heirendt, the San Diego Site Director, led the participants in a panel discussion filled with intriguing and thought-provoking questions. Some of the topics discussed were: Why did you choose Hands of Peace? What was your most memorable, challenging, and transformative experience? Did this program change you?

“It was so refreshing to spread Hands of Peace’s message, and share our experiences of leadership and community with genuine people who watched us grow over the summer” said Jordy, an American XL. “It was also nice to reminisce and reflect on all of our special moments.”

As the reflection of the program came to an end, the discussion then turned to how the participants may apply their knowledge, of both leadership and conflict resolution, to everyday issues in their lives. As astonishing as it was to see how much was said during this event, the group does not plan to stop there. This team of alumni is dedicated to meeting throughout the year, in hopes of starting a local service project, among other community outreach events.

“For me, Hands of Peace has made me want to help people in their everyday lives”, said Rebecca an American Hand. “I saw what meeting someone from the other side of the wall, or the other side of the country meant, and the impact it had on their lives. I want to help make that change every day.”


Jordan Derbas is currently a senior at Pacific Ridge School in Carlsbad. He has been involved with the Hands of Peace service class at his school for 4 years. He participated in Hands of Peace in 2016, and returned as an XL in 2017. He is traveling in the Spring with other American participants for the Israeli/Palestinian Alumni Trip. He hopes to use his knowledge from Hands of Peace to further excel in his passion of global affairs/conflict resolution.