Yousef

Palestinian Delegation, 2005

IMPACT: POLITICAL

Researching peace and security topics as a Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellow

How has Seeds of Peace had an impact on you?

When I was 15, as I just stood outside my house in Gaza, an Israeli soldier shot me in the spine. I fell to the floor in front of my father’s eyes. When I opened my eyes again to the world, I was being treated by Israeli doctors who, with love and care, enabled me to walk again. Out of this life-changing, difficult event, came out the biggest gift I have ever received in my life.

When I attended Camp, I had just gotten out of physical therapy and was unable to participate in a number of activities, so my main focus became the dialogue sessions. One of my missions was to not let my pain be used by my peers to generate more hatred.

I confidently and proudly say that I am from Gaza Strip, and I believe in peace and reconciliation. My message comes out of many painful memories of violence that I have so far turned into positive action.

My father taught me to love when it is time to hate, and to forgive when it is time to take revenge. I am still learning all of this, but at Camp I felt like I found my laboratory. I wanted to generate hope among my peers rather than more animosity. Coming from a conflict zone I realized how tired I was of war and how eager I was to just live in peace with everyone else.

My Seeds of Peace experience was filled with inspiring moments I will continue to carry throughout life. I had always wanted a chance to interact with peers from different backgrounds to tell them about my story and my dreams for the future. The most meaningful thing about being a Seed is the friends I made there. I will cherish them forever. They are different from me but they always cheer for me and I always cheer for them. They always tell me that I inspire them but in truth they inspire me and give me hope.

How are you impacting your community?

Everything I do now and plan to do in the future has been inspired by my father who taught me the power of reconciliation. Seeds of Peace was where I was able to practice this power. It gave me the opportunity to learn how to use my very painful experiences for something positive.

I am currently in the Conflict and Co-existence Master’s program at The Heller School for Social Policy at Brandeis University. I do a lot of speaking engagements promoting the message of peace and co-existence to both pro- Israel and pro- Palestine audiences. I study negotiations, mediation, intervention strategies, and more.

I know I have a lot more to learn but I am sure that I, and my Seeds friends, have exceptional capabilities that will, hopefully, one day make this world a more peaceful place.

EDUCATION

•   Master’s, Conflict and Co-existence (Brandeis University)

“Everything I do now and plan to do in the future has been inspired by my father who taught me the power of reconciliation. Seeds of Peace was where I was able to practice this power.”