Madelon and Charles Gryll

We read about Hands of Peace in a magazine.  It sounded like a wonderful idea and an opportunity that we could in some small way possibly help improve the relationships of the people living in the Middle East. The Hands of Peace organization advised us what to expect, how to plan for our guest’s arrival and what was expected of us during the 3 weeks.

We hosted an 18-year-old Palestinian and it was a wonderful experience. Our guest was enthusiastic, eager to learn as much as possible about America and was serious about helping to bring peace and improved living situations to the Middle East.  In addition, We learned so very much from our guest. We learned about his family, their beliefs, customs and values and the obstacles the Palestinians face in their everyday lives.  We were quite surprised to learn of the daily  challenges Palestinians face.

It was quite fun to show our guest Chicago and its wonderful sites. He had never been more than 50 miles from home. Our guest was amazed upon walking into  a grocery store and Wal Mart.  Michigan Avenue was especially fun for him.

One of the best parts of hosting a student from Hands of Peace is watching how the teens meet,  are initially “enemies”,  and three weeks later after workshops, discussions and group activities leave with a much better understanding of each other and their beliefs. After the teens return home, Hands of Peace keeps these meetings and discussions going throughout the year. 

When the 3 week Hands of Peace program was over, many friends asked us if we would do it again.   While we know that we got lucky with our guest being exceptionally engaged and enthusiastic,  we would host a student again. To this day, we stay in touch with our guest via emails and phone calls. We hope he returns this summer as an XL. 

Beyond the great experience we had with hosting our guest, we hope that in some small way we are helping to improve the situation in the Middle East.  Communication leads to understanding and tolerance and peace.