Meet these #InspiringYouthLeaders by clicking on the videos below to hear straight from them about their Hands of Peace experience.

I learned to get out of my comfort zone and challenge myself all the time. I learned that there are two sides to the coin and it is my responsibility to present one.”

“What we do here, it transcends beyond all of us. It ripples throughout our communities and throughout our world. What we do here is magic.”

“I became aware that peace, a deep lasting peace, can only come from the awareness that each person is a story that each story is a prayer and that each prayer is a cry in the darkness. This cry is a wavering ugly visceral noise but in its moment of weakness, it is a promise that we are different but our sorrows one. It is a cry that has and a cry that forever will give me goosebumps.”

“I came here with tons of questions and opinions but I wanted to be open to hear their side too. Dialogues are the hardest but most important part of this program. We can listen to each others stories and tell ours. Sometimes we argue but sometimes we laugh together. It unites us.”

“Hands of Peace has given me so many amazing experiences because joining this program was taking myself out of my comfort zone and it was the best decision I made.”

“Connections form when we look past external differences and learn we are similar on the inside. This realization gives me hope. If we in Hands of Peace can bond in just a couple days, maybe, just maybe, people across the globe can do the same”

“Knowing is not enough. We must apply. Wishing is not enough. We must do.”

“The journey of a thousand miles starts with a small step, the journey of peace starts with a spec of hope. The destinations seem to be amazing, but as a wise man once said: it is not about the destination, it is about the journey. The journey is never easy, some may say it is even unworthy of taking, but this journey, it was different. This journey took this spec of hope and amplified it, amplified to a new vision, in which I see a future, in which peace prospers, a future of equality and harmony and cultural understanding.”

“Thanks to Hands of Peace I learned that in this conflict everybody suffers. Maybe not equally but we all suffer. We all lose loved ones. We all have something to fight for and perhaps the time has come for us not to fight anymore but to talk. We must talk for our families, our home, our loved ones and for our future.”

“Being in Hands of Peace has made me a better listener. We get a lot of silent moments in dialogue. And I think after a pretty long time I learned that those quiet moments aren’t about none of us having anything to say but it is more about it doesn’t something specific that is not being said. And I became better at listening to all of those silences.”

“We are all leaders of change. We are the change that you want to see. This is not the end, this is only the beginning.”

“Hands of Peace taught me to truly listen, not just to others but also to what is important to me. As an outcome I became someone who is curious about life and wanting to learn more. My Hands experience taught me three main things. One, that I should always speak my mind because it can lead to something so valuable. Two, that I need to be open minded towards new ideas because everybody’s ideas and opinions can add up to a much bigger solution. And three, to never judge a book by its cover because you may encounter new friends along the way that can have a huge impact on who you are and what you believe, and if you were to judge them by appearance or opinion you never would have accepted them into your life to get to learn what they have to teach you.”

“After 2 years with Hands of Peace I am more responsible and a better leader, I think with Hands of Peace training and what they give me. I can manage leadership better now and I can be in charge in a better way then I was before the program and also I am more understanding and more respectful to others and more happy to participate in this beautiful program.”

“I define my life before Hands of Peace and after Hands of Peace. This was the most profound experience I have had. After Hands of Peace everything that I did was different in a way because I had that small change in me so once you know you cannot ignore.”

“I have learned to differentiate between the political opinions of a person and their character. And understand that more often than not there is very little connection that no matter how different a person may think from me most of the day they are still doing the same things that I am and 95% of the time even if they totally think different from me politically, they are just a normal human like me and that is probably the most critical lesson that Hands of Peace teaches.”

“Here I am at Hands of Peace. I was nervous. Would I make friends? Would we get anywhere in dialogue? Is peace even in the picture? With 9,476 km separating my home town from Israel/Palestine the conflict was not a focus of my everyday life. I felt nothing but vulnerability and comfort as I shared a part of my story in a small circle to Israelis, Palestinians and Americans I didn’t even know existed three weeks ago. This moment in time captured the pureness – the good of what Hands of Peace is and does. Even through the complexities of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict at that moment I never felt peace and acceptance being so close.”

“To this day, the experiences I went through in Hands of Peace majorly shape the way I see the conflict and look at issues regarding the conflict. I will forever see those issues first and foremost as issues of relations between human beings.”

“Hands of Peace for me is a challenge and opportunity to grow, but most importantly to raise my voice for the people that their voices are not being heard.”

“I was a little bit nervous because I didn’t really know what to expect of these people from a place I thought were so foreign from where I’m from but once I got into dialogue and was really sitting face to face with Israelis and Palestinians and fellow San Diegans for 3 hours a day I realized that there is something innately human and compassionate in all of us no matter where we are from and I think that all of us learned really valuable skills in leadership that we have all applied in our respective communities and will continue to apply for the rest of our lives!”

“My truth was really this is the right truth, and then I came to Hands of Peace  and heard no no no this is the right truth and it was really powerful for me because at the start it was hard for me to get it because all your life you are living kind of a lie  because you really heard things that you never hear about you – hear other stories and other opinions. It was really hard to handle all these emotions at once. After I really got to know the other people and really start to hear and not just to listen but to hear the other side. After this happened I really became more open and more understanding and try to seek something that will help us.”

“After the last dialogue I am so happy that I got to experience this conflict from someone else’s’ eyes and perspective. Hands of Peace has shown me that I need to be more aware to the different realities and be more curious about what is happening around me. It made me understand that I should never take anything for granted. These last 3 weeks were really impactful and meaningful for me. I could not be more pleased and happy with my decision to come here and more grateful for the opportunity given to me to be part of this organization.”

“Now I feel deeply blessed to be part of Hands of Peace Summer Program this year. The experiences that got from the dialogues and team trust activities such as the ropes course altered my mind and heart in ways I could never have imagined were possible.”