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By: Andrea Ciccolini, Glenview, IL – July 17, 2019


The Hands of Peace participants and staff ran outside the doors of the Catholic Church as the fire alarm went off in the kitchen during preparations for the annual culture night. While the delegations cooked their food for that night’s dinner, smoke set the alarm off. The participants gathered outside until it was all clear for them to come back into the church so they could continue preparing their delicious meals.

The preparations took a lot of hard work for the participants of the program. For the participant Najil, “it was hard to find an idea that is a mix between the struggle and the unique and great culture Palestinians have.” The participant Ashley said that “because America is a mix of cultures, it was hard to find something that was explicitly American.

Each delegation; Jewish Israelis, Americans, Palestinians and Palestinian Citizens of Israel, prepared a skit and a meal to share with the guests of culture night. Before the dinner and show began, all of the participants ran around the church in a hurry to finish up last-minute preparations and clothing changes.

Although culture night is a tough challenge at times, it is an excellent opportunity for the participants to share their cultures. Participant Mor described that “working in the kitchen with all the other kids from the other delegations was a great activity!”

The night started with dinner. The participants served shakshuka, mac ‘n cheese, lentil soup, and so much more to the culture night guests. After dinner, each delegation performed a skit that the participants decided would best represent their culture. The Americans’ skit demonstrated a Thanksgiving dinner as well as social movements that are taking place throughout the United States. The Palestinians performed the traditional wedding dance the Dabke and spoke about the separation of Palestinian families due to the conflict. The Israeli-Jews performed a skit that walked the audience through the landscape of Israel and demonstrated their pride for Jewish traditions.