Each year at the Annual Winter Event, youth speak from their hearts about their experience in Kids4Peace. This year we have decided that the graduating Counselors in Training will be invited to share their thoughts. Here are their words:
CARLA: Hi Everyone and Thank you for being here. My name is Carla and I live in Beit Zefafa. For me, being a 5 year old little girl, going to the park was a daily thing I would do with my family. The park closest to us was in a Jewish neighborhood where seeing Arabs was pretty rare. I never used to play with the Jewish kids at the park. They spoke a different language than me, so I would always prefer to just play with my siblings and not with strangers. I was never a close friend with an Israeli or even thought I could be. Maybe we would talk to an Israeli cashier while shopping, but not actually become friends.
Nowadays, my younger siblings are in the age I was in when I used to go to the park daily. My parents and I now teach them, that those kids who don’t speak your language and are different, could still be your friends. They also know I’ve got Israeli friends. Well, what changed me? Kids4Peace. Kids4Peace gave me the strength to talk to others who are going through the experience I went through, and change their minds and realize that the people on the other side could be our friends. Kids for Peace got me new friends, some of my best friends, ones who I live with in this country but never got to talk to or be close to because we are different. This has showed me and made it clear that nobody is going to fix the world for us, but working together might make us fix it ourselves.
WALEED: Hi my name is Waleed. I live in Ramallah and when I try to go to anywhere outside my house, I have to cross the checkpoint to reach Jerusalem. My whole life is in Jerusalem since my school is here, my friends are here, and a lot of my family is also here. When I was younger, I was really scared of the Jewish soldiers at the checkpoints since they had guns and this was something that frightened me.
Kids4Peace shows me other points of view of the conflict. It allows me to meet new people that are completely different from me. Now because I’ve met other Jewish people in Kids4Peace, the soldiers don’t look so scary anymore. I changed my point of view about the Jewish people and their character. I realized they are people too. They are just like me, a human being with a special character and an opinion. I don’t judge anybody by his appearance anymore. But Kids4Peace also taught me not to be naive and to realize the hardship my people are living. There are extremists on both sides. I think my role is to help break the stereotypes. With this realization, I can now share what I’ve learned to others. I can spread my ideas to other people and then they can help me change the current situation into a better one than before. It’s a long process but at least I can take one step further toward peace.
EMANUEL: Hello, I’m Emanuel, and I’m from Jerusalem. I grew up in a very open community. I went to kindergarten and school in the bilingual school (which I study in until this day), so the idea of coexistence and meeting with the “other side” wasn’t very new to me. But the disadvantage of living in such a mixed society is that I had never met someone who thinks differently about the “other side”. My community is really close, so the people inside the community meet, talk and learn about the other. I assumed that everyone saw each other as the same.
Through the last 5 years I learned so much – my English improved drastically, how to handle an argument, how to treat others and other thoughts that are different than mine, and more than everything– how to listen to others and try and understand their perspective. Although I had a lot of Muslim and Christian friends I didn’t know much about the different ideas and thoughts in the religions. Kids4Peace thought me so much about the way the different religions refer to the same subjects. And this year, Carla, Waleed and I are in the counselors in training program. It teaches us a lot about how to operate a group and how to run an activity. I feel very fortunate to have the ability to practice theses different skills that K4P taught me in school or when I meet people with different opinions than me.