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Using Compassion and Understanding to Inspire an Unlikely Reconciliation

By Elisha Neubauer

Some organizations just tug on a heart string when you hear their story. Creativity for Peace is one such group that will appeal to your softer side. A not for profit organization, they are currently the only company working with both young Palestinian and Israeli women on collaborative leadership and peacemaking in an attempt to change prejudice to a mutual respect.

"We believe that peace begins inside each individual so we first teach the importance of self-reflection, of expressing one's thoughts and feelings, and developing skills for emotional resiliency in order that young women can withstand all the setbacks they will face," a Creativity for Peace staff member tells us. "We teach communication skills, such as authentic speaking and compassionate listening that ensure connections can be made across divides."

Photo Credit: Joshua Sage

The organization is based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico but currently operates in the US, Palestine, and Israel. This outreach allows the company some freedoms which usually aren't afforded to young women of these nationalities. "At home Israelis and Palestinians have little or no opportunity to get to know one another," explains the staff member. "Our organization allows them a chance to build friendships, based on the idea that an enemy is a person whose story you've never heard. These are the fundamentals of peacemaking and they have been incredibly effective in transforming prejudices, anger, and hatred."

At the moment, the program has approximately two hundred and fifty girls enrolled an encompasses a three-week summer intensive, year-round gatherings, advanced leadership training, projects facilitated by young peacemakers for their peers in Israel, Palestine, and the United States, and training of women in the early stages of their political careers. "Training begins with academic-style learning on subjects as gender roles, the dual narratives of Israelis and Palestinians, and critical thinking," one staff member states. "We teach practical skills, such as project management, group facilitation, and fundraising. And we offer many opportunities for real-world practice."

Photo Credit: Joshua Sage

Young women enrolled in the program are extremely active in the community. For example, they give talks in the Middle East, Europe and the United States; they meet with high schools, universities, and faith-based communities; they are involved with conflict resolution groups and meet with high ranking leaders; and they attend and speak at venues such as the World Economic Forum and the United Nations.

The American Outreach program offered by the organization is another crowd favorite, offering girls' circles, talks and workshops delivered by Creativity for Peace Young Leaders, leadership training, internships, and art projects.

These events are designed to introduce American young people to peers from Israel and Palestine in an attempt to foster communication, conflict resolution, and leadership. "People who would like to meet our young women and/or support our work can volunteer for our three-week summer peace camp outside Santa Fe (July 14-August 4)," a Creativity for Peace member states. "They can attend our public event, "Salaam~Shalom: Songs and Stories of Peace" on Thursday, July 28 at 7 pm at the James A. Little Theater or attend a benefit concert on Sunday, August 28 at 7 pm at the Santa Fe Opera featuring Michael Franti and Lila Downs."

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About The Author

Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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