Important Dates to Remember:

Summer Program Dates for 2018 are
July 11th - 
 July 30th

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Hands of Peace News and Updates
International Peace Day Logo September 21st was International Peace Day - a day dedicated to world peace, that provides an opportunity for all humanity to come together, in spirit and in action, to forward the ideals of and conditions for peace.  In honor of International Peace Day we posted quotes highlighting how Hands of Peace has made a difference in people's lives all day on our Facebook and Instagram pages. We wanted to send these inspiring stories directly so you can really see  how Hands of Peace has inspired our alumni, participant parents and board members!

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Shiri, Jewish Israeli Participant 
"I learned how to listen when someone says something I don't necessarily like. I also changed my political view of the conflict, have been through experiences not many people have been through, and met amazing people not everybody gets to meet. I'm ready to talk about my experience in HOP with anyone who wants to hear."

Madeline, American Participant
"Hands of Peace inspired me to study International Relations at the university level, with a special focus in International Organizations, Security, and Human Rights. My views on so many conflicts and international issues of injustice have been shaped by the open mindedness and global citizenship that I developed during my time with Hands of Peace."

Michele Arnison, Board Member
"I joined the board of Hands of Peace a year ago for the opportunity to be part of an organization that does so much to equip young people to be leaders of change. It was a pleasure to be part of the 2017 Summer Program-the energy level was off the charts-both with the youth and adults who support the program. Board members, program volunteers and host families showed dedication to the organization, recognition that they must be actively engaged if the organization is to t hrive, and an understanding of how their unique, personal gifts contribute to HOP's success. It's been an honor to serve as Treasurer and use my skills to help guide this vibrant organization as we grow."- Michele Arnison, Board Member 

Sama, Palestinian Citizen of Israel Participant
"Hands of Peace influenced my life in a lot of ways. It made me discover things about myself that I never thought I had, such as teamwork, containing my anger, listening even though I don't agree with what is said AT ALL. It taught me it's okay to disagree on things, it's what makes us humans."

Moran, Jewish Israeli Participant Parent 
"My daughter participated in Hands of Peace, and I love the fact that it teaches the participants how to talk even if they don't agree, to learn the other side and experience new things"

Zena, Palestinian Participant 
"Humanity, justice, equality and human rights are little words with huge meanings and few spread in my region and as a girl who suffers from the lack of these things I don't want this to continue. What I know for a fact is that "No one is winning in this conflict" everyone is losing and they are only spreading fear and mistrust that will last for ages. Everyone has a past but we don't have to live in the past we must live for the future and we mustn't let the past pull us ap art. Moving forward we all have different identities and religions and that's what make us so special. Our investment should be to teach tolerance. As a young Palestinian I refuse to be afraid, I refuse to hate and I refuse to seek revenge and I think that's what everyone else should do to."

Gretchen Grad, Founder
"Although the inspiration for Hands of Peace sprang from the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, as a movement it has brought hope and life-changing momentum to many. And not only to the hundreds of alumni, staff, host families and volunteers - I have been profoundly impacted and see it as my revealed purpose in life. What a gift!"

Reham, Palestinian Citizen of Israel Participant
"Ever since Hands of Peace I feel a great responsibility to share what I learned from the program, so this year on world peace day, I plan to facilitate a dialogue session at my high school around the subject of peace and resolving conflicts. My hope is that young people my age will become more aware of the current situation in their communities and around the world, and of what they can do to help improve it."

Mohammed, American Participant 
"I strive to be the light that people around me turn to when things get dark. When I lose hope, I think back to my summer with Hands of Peace and the amazing relationships I made, the stories I heard, and the lessons I learned. What I learned during HOP is not limited to Israel-Palestine; conflict resolution and dialogue applies everywhere, especially to something more personal and near my heart, the Kashmiri conflict. So do not lose faith. Fight for what you believe in, and know that there is hope and people out there trying to make a change, however big it may be."

Maeve, American Participant 
"I had this vivid moment in my Hand year when we were arguing about checkpoints in dialogue and no one could agree. But somehow I couldn't shake this feeling of hope. I was sitting there smiling because even though we couldn't agree, we could understand one another. We could hear and share stories and empathize. These people who otherwise may never have met could feel one another's pain. And maybe in that moment we couldn't make a decision about the checkpoints. But we all u nderstood why everyone was saying what they were and we could offer our own experiences and opinions, but we could not- and would not- invalidate other people's stories and views." 

Debby Fosdick, Advisory Board Chair
"I have been so blessed by being part of the Hands of Peace family for 15 years. As a volunteer, host Mom, Board Member, Advisory Board member and trip participant I have become an activist for peace and justice and I've made some of the richest friendships of my life. Thanks to all who support this amazing organization."

Danya Saleh, Board Member
"Hands of Peace stood out for me in particular because it incorporates Palestinian kids from the West Bank, kids who need their voice heard. The idea to bring these kids together for two weeks and for them to have dialogue and express how they feel in a way they won't have repercussion is amazing. Being one of the only Palestinian American's on the board, allows for me to continue to give a voice."

Marwan, Palestinian Citizen of Israel Participant
"I have been talking in the school and with my friends about the experience that I had in Hands of Peace and how much it affected my way of thinking. I see the community in a better way now. I try to look at the good side and fix the other one. I look at people with more love"

Inbal, Jewish Israeli Participant
"I specifically remember how I felt at the farewell banquet. I felt like I belonged. As Hands of Peace is not A program, it's MY program. The host parents are MY parents. My group is here, with me, for me. I felt a part. I felt united. I felt at home, not like I've been away for 3 weeks, but like I've been away for 14 years, and finally came back home. HOP didn't make me more optimistic, rather more realistic. It also made me more understanding. I now have the ability to say I disagree, and yet I care. I can hear your truth, I can see you, I can hold their story mentally without losing a piece of mine. Actually, their story is now a part of mine, even without agreeing with it."

Leah, American Participant
"Growing up in the Jewish community and the post 9/11 era, I felt there was another side to the story I had been hearing about Arabs, Muslims, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hands of Peace exposed me to this other side of the story and started me on a long journey of discovery that included 6 years of Arabic study and 3 years living in the Middle East."

Mohammad, Palestinian Participant
"Hands of Peace changed my mind completely. It taught me how to understand the problem, how to understand the others, how to deal with people from other religions and cultures and lots of other things that helped me to become an open minded person."

Carrie, American Participant
"Hands of Peace simultaneously exposed me to two opposing realities: the horrors of conflict, and the enduring compassion of humanity. Among the many memories I carry with me from Hands of Peace, what stands out most is the House of Consciousness lecture from Ron Miller. It has shaped my mindset since I was 16 years old! Now as a high school social studies teacher, the House of Consciousness has a big role in my classroom. I keep a visual of the "House" on my wall and use it as a tool for students to understand perspective and understanding another person's narrative. It is a powerful tool for thinking compassionately "from the rooftop".
Ways To Get Involved
Now that these amazing individuals have inspired you, we ask you to help us by getting more actively involved. Here are the top 5 ways you can join the Hands of Peace community:

1. Attend HOPEducation nights in Chicago or San Diego throu ghout the year.  Learn about the conflict from multiple perspectives and how HOP enables teens to raise their voices as leaders of change.
2.  Become a host family.  Hosting teens or staff from the Middle East is a window to their world and creates lifelong relationships.
3.  Encourage your teen to apply.  Every year, teens from the U.S. join their counterparts from the Middle East in the dialogue program in Chicago and San Diego.
4.   Donate your time.  We are always looking for volunteers to assist year round and especially during the summer in planning the Farewell Celebrations, serving program lunches, and other activities.

5.   Donate financially.  Your contributions are vital to support our ongoing programming both in the U.S. and the Middle East.  Gifts of any size will help us build and sustain momentum.   WE WILL be part of the solution that brings Freedom, Equality and a Just and Positive Peace to the Middle East.

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