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By: Adrian Chang, Oceanside, CA – July 13, 2019


As they feel the sand beneath their feet and the cool ocean breeze on their faces, this year’s participants gather together at Oceanside beach to enjoy festivities with Alumni, Host Families, and other Hands of Peace community members. As the evening went on, the Hands grew closer to each other, alongside the broader San Diego Hands of Peace community.

The assorted group enjoyed freshly grilled hotdogs as they conversed and mingled. Alumni embraced returning participants after not seeing each other for one, two years. The atmosphere was light and surprisingly friendly considering that this is a group of teens that has known each other for only two days. A few participants started a game of volleyball that slowly grew in size, but unfortunately not in quality.

Later into the evening, the group gathered around the bonfire for an announcement by Mathew, an American Hand in 2018, and a singing of the Hands of Peace song by Alumni and XLs. Mathew started a program that assembles American, Israeli, and Palestinian musicians together and wanted to get the word out.

“I thought it was a really great experience to get to sing and play games and just do random stuff with all the participants and the alumni” said Camille, an American Hand. “I felt that even though we knew each other for less than two days we got to really bond as a group and got to understand each other better. I’m really grateful for that experience at the bonfire.”

As the evening grew darker and the wind a little chillier, participants and their host families began to depart. Three American hands, however, kept the festivities going, singing songs into the night without a care in the world.