“I was inspired by the Jordanian youth and their interests in a conflict that does not affect them directly. I was happy to see the common interests,”
-Yuval Appelbaum, 15
When Aya Bseiso, a Senior at the American Community School (ACS) in Amman, Jordan, got in touch with Naomi about bringing Kids4Peace youth to Jordan to engage in dialogue with Jordanian youth for a weekend, I think there was a large amount of doubt in the how this could be achieved. The bureaucratic overhead including visas and border crossings, worried parents, and logistics (just to name a few) created anxiety across the board, but 6 youth, 4 staff and a parent made the trip on Thursday and returned on Sunday full of stories and an amazing experience that will remain with all of us for years to come.
The project, named Bab el Salaam (Door of Peace), brought our Palestinian and Israeli youth together with a group of 8 Jordanian youth who were mostly of Palestinian origins. They were introduced in their first evening together, and then spent the first full day learning mediation and conflict resolution techniques.
After a nice evening of shopping and enjoying the sites of Amman including the Citadel, the youth spent their Saturday engaged in serious dialogue regarding the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and as heated as it got… the youth listened to one another, did not get discouraged and found some common ground. The Jordanian youth were particularly positive in the end as they spoke about how they have never met or been introduced to Israelis or Jews before, but were excited by this opportunity to listen and understand their view of the Conflict and even the view of the Arab-Israelis. The Jordanian Palestinians are very involved and interested in the Conflict, but detached because they are not on the ground and involved on a daily basis, so it was important for each group to hear and understand the other and have the tough discussions while remaining friends.
The highlight of the trip came after dialoguing about the Conflict – Yasser Abbas, son of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, came to speak to the group, and then we left to meet the President himself for a photo opportunity and dinner with Aya’s family and Yasser.
Louis said what all the staff was thinking after the final dialogue – “it felt like we had discussions on a high level,” and all of the youth said that they hoped to meet the Jordanians again. We at Kids4Peace hope to reunite with ACS again next year with another opportunity for a new group of youth to get to know the other, make new friends across the line of conflict and make a new push toward becoming the next generation of leaders and peacemakers in the region.
“Having participated in this amazing and unforgettable experience in Jordan made me realize that their is no better place than Kids4Peace for my daughter Sasha to be with.”