Ashraf is an educator working in Palestine and Israel. Throughout his work with youth in the region, he has developed an English language curriculum that uses the language learning process to teach methods of conflict resolution, social awareness, and social change.
Lior is an Israeli Seed, counselor, and educator who founded a nonprofit mentoring program for teens across Israel. Learn more about him and what inspires his work!
Jouna is a Palestinian biomedical engineer living in Israel and founded Hiya-Tech, which works to promote the participation of Arab women in the high-tech industry in Israel.
Start-ups for peace
NEW YORK | Sofia (Executive Director of Afghans for Progressive Thinking) aims to empower Afghan women to become financially independent by providing professional skills, leadership training, and legal knowledge. Ahmed (Founder of the Lincoln School System) believes that girls must have equal educational opportunities in his native Pakistan. Stanford University graduate Justin (Founder of Bandura Games) uses the start-up culture of San Francisco to equip NGOs with better tools to build communities and reach cross-conflict audiences.
Tel Aviv-based activist Keren (Executive Director of Shutafot) combines an entrepreneurial spirit with her skills as a lawyer to expand the Jewish-Arab Shutafot coalition. She will continue to tackle gender injustice by creating resources like an interactive map of women’s organizations. Meanwhile, Zoe, a lawyer from Lahore, is building an app to connect young professional women with mentors all across the globe. And Ahmed (a project manager from Gaza) reminds us with his up-beat project “Humans of Gaza” of the beauty of his community.
Seeds of Peace is proud to announce its second class of 17 highly accomplished GATHER Fellows from the Middle East, South Asia and North America. What unites them is their optimistic start-up spirit and their unwavering passion for peace despite intensified regional tensions. Among their social change endeavors are projects that address education, gender equality, the power of cross-cultural theater and music productions, as well as the creation of efficient mentoring networks.
The 2016-2017 GATHER Fellows embody courage to lead change. Their devotion to conflict transformation inspires people in their communities and across borders. The Fellowship will help them to deepen their impact by providing intense leadership training and networking opportunities.
“I strongly believe that just like you need different strings and keys to play a tune, bringing changemakers from all over the world to learn and explore strategies together will strengthen their individual efforts,” says 2016 GATHER Fellow Pious, the first African-born Muslim immigrant to be elected into public office in Maine, and who is now running for city council.
“I am looking to meet, learn and share my thoughts with my peers from around the world during the opening week of the Fellowship in London.”
The GATHER Fellowship is part of a larger initiative launched by Seeds of Peace in 2015 that invests in inclusive, practical social change led by alumni of Seeds of Peace and other emerging changemakers. The year-long program supports innovation and practical action by providing Fellows access to the resources necessary to unlock the potential of their vision.
“Our first class of Fellows has made enormous progress with their projects during the one year training that Seeds of Peace provided to them. We are glad that our program has had such an enormous impact on their work and on their respective commmunities,” says Seeds of Peace Executive Director Leslie Lewin.
The GATHER Fellows will convene in London from November 13-20, 2016, to take part in trainings, workshops, and expert-led presentations that speak to their professional and personal needs. They will benefit from an individually-tailored leadership development curriculum that offers coaching, networking, and opportunities for them to engage with their local community.
This year, Seeds of Peace is excited to be cooperating with Alan Harlam, Director of Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship at Brown University’s Swearer Center for Public Service. Alan founded Brown’s Social Innovation Initiative along with a group of visionary students in 2007; the program now reaches hundreds of students and alumni each year. He developed a course on Social Entrepreneurship that introduces students to the transformative impact that social entrepreneurs have in society.
“Alan has coached hundreds of successful changemakers over the years, and our Fellows will certainly greatly benefit from his expertise and leadership,” says Jerusalem-based GATHER Director Jonah Fisher.
“The collaboration with program partners such as Brown University and Burson-Marsteller is a fantastic asset for us,” says Lewin. “We are grateful for their generous pro-bono support.”
The 2016-17 GATHER Fellows receive a stipend to support their initiatives. They come from diverse professional backgrounds and include lawyers, community engagement experts, tech entrepreneurs, educators, youth and women activists, musicians, and theater directors.
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About Seeds of Peace
Seeds of Peace is a leadership development organization committed to inspiring and cultivating new generations of leaders in communities divided by conflict. We equip them with the skills and relationships they need to accelerate the social, economic, and political changes essential for peace. Our network now encompasses over 6,400 alumni throughout the Middle East, South Asia, Europe, and the United States who are uniquely positioned to lead change.
Israeli Seed Lior helps manage the Settlement Watch project for the Israeli organization PEACE NOW, which advocates for a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Lior encourages learning and dialogue around the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, which PEACE NOW has identified as an obstacle to peace. Watch him in action—one of the many Seeds working to create political, economic, and social change in their communities.
JERUSALEM | Seeds of Peace is set to resume its Dialogue Facilitation and Conflict Transformation Course led by Farhat Agbaria and Danny Metzl and held at its offices in Jerusalem.
This is the seventh year that Seeds of Peace has offered the professional certification to Palestinians and Israelis, including Seeds. Over 100 facilitators have graduated from the course.
“For the course starting October, more than one hundred candidates applied and many of them are Seeds,” says Course Coordinator Farhat Agbaria, who expects 25 of the applicants to be accepted and enroll in the course.
“The experience is very unique and very special for them,” says Agbaria. “Besides the training as professionals, one of the aspects we emphasize is personal growth and the outcome is very mature people and professionals.”
The nine-month intensive training program is unique in its experience-based learning and practice methodology designed for those living in conflict-affected communities.
The course provides individuals with personal and professional skills that can be applied to their careers and everyday life situations.
“Taking this facilitation course with Seeds of Peace has helped me tremendously,” says Hiba, a Seed and Facilitation Course graduate. “I believe the skills that I have learned at the facilitation course are long-life skills that I apply in my daily life with my friends and family and professional career.”
“It is experience-based and very different from other courses,” says Seeds of Peace’s Danny Metzl, one of the two Course Coordinators. “Participants don’t know when a subject will come up.”
Participants explore the conflict to get a deep understanding of each other’s narratives and acquire practical skills to become effective peacebuilders.
“The difference is that our program is much more psychologically-oriented,” says Metzl. “It affects people for life and it is the only on-going dialogue that goes down all year long in a systematic way, no other body that does that. It’s by itself very valuable.”
The Course is open to both Seeds of Peace alumni and to those who haven’t been part of any Seeds of Peace program before. After graduating from the course, participants will be eligible to facilitate dialogue sessions at the Seeds of Peace Camp in Maine. Graduates have also worked with over 50 peacebuilding projects and institutions within Palestine and Israel.
“I will say the course has been one of the best educational experiences in my life. Mainly because it gave me an opportunity to work with other Seeds on a concrete project together,” says Tomer, a Seed and Facilitation Course graduate. “We were continuing the [Camp] dialogue in the context that provided us professional and individual development.”
NEW YORK | Seeds of Peace expresses its deepest condolences on the passing of Shimon Peres. Our thoughts are with his family.
Since 1993, President Peres has been a strong supporter of Seeds of Peace’s work to inspire and cultivate new generations of leaders in communities divided by conflict, calling Seeds the “true builders of peace,” and serving on Seeds of Peace’s advisory board.
AUGUSTA, MAINE | A large group from Seeds of Peace camp, both past and present, gathered Sunday in Augusta to cross bridges — on the roads, and in life.
The Bridges to Peace Walk is celebrated all over the world as part of International Peace Day, which was on Sept. 21. Sunday was Maine’s turn. The idea is to walk across significant bridges on the land to symbolize crossing bridges in our society. Seeds of Peace hopes the walk can show that two sides that sometimes don’t agree or have tension in society can come together.
The Maine group walked through Augusta, crossing Memorial Bridge, passing the Sarah Smith statue and ending up at the State House. This year, the group made signs for their walk through Augusta that focused on issues that are important to them.
“When we were creating signs, I asked a lot of people to really create signs about issues that matter to them,” said organizer Nina Intharakunha. “Because today is about refocusing ourselves as a community. Because what we aim to do is create change in these communities. So we are really trying to focus on issues that matter to us so that we can create change for the better.”
The students and adults involved hope that their example could inspire others to work towards peace.
MUMBAI | Eleven Indian Seeds and their friends took part in a leadership session at the Bombay International School on September 18 led by Abhishek Thakore, the founder of The Blue Ribbon Movement.
The Blue Ribbon Movement is a social organization that creates and nurtures young social leaders across borders through various leadership programs.
Thakore challenged participants to seek a life created by their own struggle and efforts, rather than a life that society finds acceptable and that conforms to the boxes that are approved by society.
“I was surprised when one of the Seeds said that they would work to create their own life and not fit into the boxes which are readily available,” said Sagar Gangurde, Director of Indian Programs.
Using his own story of change, Thakore explained how privilege can provide an opportunity to take chances and make this world a better place.
NEW YORK | Fifteen new American Seeds met in New York on September 9 to check in after Camp, discuss their return home, and talk about post-camp programming.
The day-long program started with a reflection dialogue during which the Seeds shared their experiences after Camp and returning to school. Many shared similar frustrations upon their return, including difficulty communicating messages learned at Camp with their relatives and friends.
They also examined Changemaker Projects, looked at past examples of these projects, and explored the possibility of future participation. American Seed and Breaking Borders founder Carter Hirschhorn and Director Jacob Kern gave a presentation with Q&A about their project to generate dialogue on race, religion, and socioeconomic status between students from the Riverdale Country School and the Marble Hill School.
The last part of the program centered on this year’s upcoming Seeds of Peace program calendar. The Seeds shared their feedback on the calendar and proposed a day of service and fundraising initiatives including a 5K race.