The end of 2012 saw the conclusion of the 11th cycle of Face to Face / Faith to Faith (F2F) in Jerusalem, an interreligious and intercultural dialogue and social change program by Auburn Theological Seminary in partnership with ICCI. The first part of the program was dedicated to dialogue and exploration of issues related to identity, history and narratives, and the summer intensive in the second part widened perspectives and provided tools and skills for social activism. Capitalizing on this,the third and final part was focused on social activism and social change. The 2012 group of F2F chose to focus on three areas of action, and successfully planned and implemented several outreach projects, with the help and guidance of their facilitators, Miki Joelson and Sameh Aweadah.
The F2F kids were eager to share the meaningful experience they’ve been through with others, and to demonstrate to their communities that, despite the differences between them and the ever-present context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, such an interreligious, bi-national group could work together to make changes for the better. A full day of dialogue for their friends and family members, prepared and facilitated by the participants themselves, proved an excellent opportunity for this. A second project involved making visits to the Alyn hospital for children, where they entertained Jewish and Arabic patients and family members with bi-lingual joint activities (and an amusing bunny costume…):
The third area the kids wanted to focus on was outreach via social media. Three of them wrote blog posts (in Hebrew, Arabic and English) describing their experiences and the impact of the program on their lives and outlook (click images after the embedded video to read each post), and one of them created a special poster summarizing the year. The team spearheading the group’s media project, with the help of their facilitators and two external volunteers, also prepared a special video (below), which is now up on our YouTube account. They prepared 3 questions that the F2F kids answer:
1. What did you think of the ‘other side’ before F2F and what do you think about it now?
2. What is it about the F2F program that made this change for you?
3. What did you learn / do you take with you for your future life?
Watch the video to discover the the answers…
The F2F program, which has been active since 2001, will take a new direction in 2013, expanding and forming new collaborations with organizations doing similar work. Forty Jewish, Christian and Muslim youth from East and West Jerusalem will be recruited from existing leadership programs (e.g., the Jerusalem Youth Council) for a series of workshops in Jerusalem followed by a summer intensive camp in the North of Israel in August 2013. These youth will get to know the “other” through social interaction as well as substantive dialogue about identity, culture, religion and nationality. They will tackle issues related to living in a mixed city like Jerusalem, addressing challenges and difficulties, will learn how to initiate and produce projects, both on the ground and on the internet, and will receive professional mentoring and seed money in order to bring into fruition meaningful more and more social action projects.