by Reeham Subhi, Co-Director of Education for Kids4Peace Jerusalem
The atmosphere at this camp is truly amazing. Every minute I feel inspired. From ease at the airport, through to camp running so smoothly: it is just amazing. It meant so much to me to celebrate my birthday at Kids4Peace. There is nowhere else in the world that felt more important and meaningful right now than the Kids4Peace family. It really feels like home. I feel happy for real, for the first time in many weeks.
The kids are so excited. You don’t feel any anger between them now just excitement and relief. The last few meetings with the kids and their parents were very difficult because of the situation. It was an important process but as soon as we got to the airport you could feel their readiness to be together. This isn’t just an escape. Yes, the farm is beautiful and living together is bonding. But the youth are working hard, learning a ton, and growing personally and as a community.
One of my favorite programs so far was the Fishbowl. It happened to have been an exceptionally difficult day in Palestinian and Israeli society after 2 terror attacks in Jerusalem. Even with the current events, the kids participated wholeheartedly. We divided the youth by national identity: Palestinians, Israelis, and Americans. Each group had 20 minutes to just vent out all of their feelings and experiences about everything that has been happening lately regarding the violence, hatred, and horrible news. No one was allowed to interrupt, comment, ask questions, or anything. They had to all listen to each other 100%. It worked. The kids had so much to say and were real and emotional and straightforward. Their peers listened to them and didn’t challenge them until the second part of the activity.
The second part of the activity was to discuss forgiveness: and not just any forgiveness, national forgiveness. Each group sat together and tried to figure out if and how their own society could forgive the other. I’ll be honest, it was too much to ask of them. It is so relevant to right now, so hard for them to let go. Realizing this as facilitators could have felt frustrating but it had the opposite effect. We saw the beauty in the kids desire to listen to each other. Their inability to forgive the national tragedies mattered less than the desire to reach it. These youth are the answer and I know they will get there. I am more inspired now than ever before.
These kids can go deeper and deeper. We need more time, more programs, to meet more often. I have my work cut out for me but I’ve never felt more ready. We have a great staff and team of facilitators and we accept the challenge. Our dear leadership, camp may be coming to a close but our work has only begun.