JERUSALEM | Thirty-nine new Palestinian and Israeli dialogue facilitators graduated on June 6 from Seeds of Peace’s professional training courses.
The dialogue facilitation and conflict transformation program, co-directed by Farhat Agbaria and Danny Metzl, equips Palestinians and Israelis with professional peacebuilding and conflict transformation skills. This is the fifth year that Seeds of Peace has offered the program to both Seeds and non-Seeds.
Despite the great need for trained dialogue facilitators, few intensive training programs for Israelis and Palestinians exist. Throughout the eight-month course, participants engage in a dialogue experience as they simultaneously learn the techniques of dialogue facilitation. Participants then apply their learning in at least 40 hours of fieldwork in dialogue facilitation for local peacebuilding programs.
By focusing on experiential learning and practice, the course creates deeper personal relationships with the “other,” as they confront and contend with their own personal and political perspectives.
“I ask myself questions regarding the conflict which I have pushed aside before,” said one participant. “I am reflecting as to how I converse with people, how I relate to them; [and] working on separating justifications from true beliefs.”
Seeds of Peace’s basic and advanced facilitation courses are designed to provide a foundation for professional peacebuilding work. This year, all of the Middle East dialogue facilitators at the organization’s Camp in Maine will be graduates of the courses—five graduates of the basic course and two from the advanced course.
Other graduates of the program work in roles as professional facilitators in various organizations in the Middle East.
The group gathered at a cafe in the Palestinian town of Beit Jala for a celebratory coffee to mark their certification as dialogue facilitators.
Reflecting on their experiences, participants expressed the transformative effect it had on their skills and knowledge, as well as the personal growth they experienced.
“I had a rock of fear upon me in the past and an identity crisis,” said one participant. “I have gained deep insights and understandings of both sides to the conflict, how they think, feel, and deal with the conflict.”
“I have gained a lot of self-confidence; I am more aware of my power and capabilities.”