My name is Sam, I am a participant in the Face to Face / Faith to Faith 2012 program.
I first decided to enter the program because I thought it would be fun. At a certain point I was about to withdraw, but Sameh and Miki, our facilitators, convinced me to stay in the program and go through this incredible experience. Now I am grateful to them, because without them I would not be in the place I am today.
As I said, in the beginning, I entered the program for fun, but overtime, I started to feel how serious the program is and to realize the responsibility I had taken upon myself. From there, a personal challenge between me and myself developed for a few reasons.
The first reason was my need to defend the Palestinian cause, which is my own, within discussions about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The second reason was my determination to see if I’m entitled to be (part of the group), to see if maybe there are other people who deserve to participate more than I do.
The last reason was my desire to make connections and build new friendships with people who are different from me, and have experiences that I’d never before had a chance to. The other participants are now members of my family, and I know this was a beautiful episode in my life which happens once in a lifetime.
F2F is more than just a program; it is another world which gives you a chance to learn more about conflicts and religions, and about different people from different backgrounds and religions. To be honest, the F2F program gave me a huge amount, and changed me for the better. F2F is a place for peacemakers, no matter where they are from, what matters are their goals and ambitions. That’s especially true of my home group, the Jerusalem group.
In light of the conflict which creates a hard reality for every single one of us, the peacemakers, I expect of you not to put the blame on only one side, if you truly want to achieve stability and peace.
I send my love to all of you, and I hope that one day peace will come to the entire world, because the world is in our hands.
Sam Alaaraj is a participant in the ‘Face to Face / Faith to Faith’ 2012 group in Jerusalem, an inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue and social change program by Auburn Theological Seminary in partnership with ICCI.