PEACE BUILDING EVER MORE IMPORTANT AS INSTABILITY IN MIDDLE EAST PERSISTS
Over the past month, Peace it Together has been following current events related to Israel and Palestine especially closely. It is a tense and uncertain time. We are committed to ensuring our programming is responsive to realities on the ground, and the needs of our youth.
Peace it Together will continue to support all of our program alumni as they explore the many ways in which the recent outburst of violence, the ceasefire, and now other key developments, are impacting them and their families. We are encouraged by their bravery, and especially inspired by the steps some Peace it Together alumni have taken to connect with one another during this tumultuous time.
PEACE IT TOGETHER EXPANDS PROGRAMMING, SUPPORTS YOUTH IN COMMUNITY SCREENINGS
Organizations that bring together youth from opposing sides of conflict face a similar, pressing challenge: how do you keep program participants engaged in peace building long after everyone hugs goodbye, boards their respective planes, and returns to the hostile climate from which they came?
Research tells us that the longer youth stay connected with peace-building organizations and their work, the greater the impact, the more empowered the participants, and ultimately, the more likely that a long-term peace will take hold. We need only look to the events of the past month to understand why this is so important.
Since our 2011 summer intensive wrapped last year, Peace it Together staff in the Middle East and Canada have been working hard to support all three cohorts of participants after they returned home. In our August newsletter, we told you about how our Israeli and Palestinian youth were showing their films in their communities, and how one of these screenings in Tulkarm inspired more than 50 teens and young adults to apply to cross-border programs in the region. We reported how the Canadian youth were also exploring new and engaging ways to facilitate dialogue with their films, in community centres and university classrooms.
Peace it Together youth filmmakers and facilitators lead students from Emily Carr University in an activity called 'Web of Voice' during a workshop held on October 16. Discussion centered around ethical dilemmas faced by artists.
These community screenings represent a significant expansion to Peace it Together’s programming. Never before have Peace it Together alumni been so connected to the program and to each other so long after their summer intensive experience. Never before has there been such coordinated and sustained local support – in Israel, Palestine and Canada – to keep alumni engaged and committed to affecting change on the ground. And never before has the impact of Peace it Together programs been more profound and exciting.
This past year, the 2011 Israeli and Palestinian alumni facilitated dozens of film screenings to more than 1,000 people. Almost 60% of audience members at those screenings said they were interested in learning more about "the other" as a result of watching the films.
Meanwhile, the Canadian youth have reached over 700 people in their communities and on university campuses, and plan to screen their films to hundreds more in the coming months. At every screening, these youth use creative facilitation to foster conversation about complex topics that intersect with the work of Peace it Together: from peace, conflict resolution and international relations; to negotiating the challenges and opportunities presented by collaborative art and filmmaking.
Through these screening workshops, Peace it Together staff are forging long-term community partnerships. We are witnessing our youth build peace in new and creative ways, as they grow as leaders in their own communities.
Students from an SFU Political Science class discuss their interpretations of the Peace it Together films Grave Digging, and Through a Glass, Darkly. Taken at a community screening workshop held October 12.