Some Resources

Changing the World – A short introduction in the science of transformative action developed by Scott Sherman. He did reasearch on successful processes of change and identified key attributes. See also:

MENA-policy for a new generation – A collection of political articles by young scholars and activist in the MENA region. “YAANI – the Young Arab Analysts Network International – is a project to develop capacity in policy analysis amongst young people in the MENA region, with the objective that evidence-based well-argued policy propositions will not only help young people clarify their demands…” (From the Preface) See also

 FDTD – A book surprise.

The Prospects for Dialogue and Reconciliation in Syria: The Role of Religion in International Relations – Proceedings and Declaration from an Interfaith Consulation on Syria in Amman, Jordan from October 11-13, 2013.

UPF’s Middle East Peace Initiative – An overview over past activities and an article by Shelley Elkayam (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) on its impact.


Change Makers shooting off

One offshoot of Creating Change is the ChangeMaker program, developed by us. The youth of Tunisia sparked in its protests the Arab Spring. After the revolution big challenges arose and blocked anticipated developments. Young Tunisians are still waiting for their reward. More effective initiatives need to be taken.

For a first outline see ChangeMakers.

Emna getting the idea for the ChangeMaker program

Creating within the Open Space Technology

Since Thursday evening participants were given the chance to work with a method called Open Space Technology (see session summary of 24/10, 5-6:30pm) The entire Friday was dedicated to work in small groups on individual projects and to the preparations for the respective presentation.

The first group investigated the matter of Halal food in a Maltese butcher’s shop and a restaurant. Equipped with a camera the team set out to interview two of their employees questioning about issues, such as the special slaughter of the animals and the different ways of preparation. In conclusion, they observed an interest in the topic, but also a lack of knowledge that might cause misunderstandings about Halal food.

One member of the second group, which only consisted of two participants in total, had done some research on how the European economic crisis affected the Arab spring beforehand. Based on these findings they worked on a small survey, in which around 50 Maltese people had to choose one statement that was the most adequate in regards to the posed questions. “How do you think the crisis can impact your business?” was one of them, for example. Before displaying the result, however, the team gave a short introduction to the topic and the research. In order to compare the result with the opinions of the people present, they were asked the same questions. This resulted in a vivid discussion about the topic and the survey itself.

The objective of the third team was to deliver the contents that were covered earlier in the program to young people in Tunisia. In addition, these should be further enriched in order to start a youth Empowerment Program called Change Makers, which will be elaborated in cooperation with UPF, Haqi and the Unreal Academy. One of the main aims is that youngsters develop competences, such as Communication, Public Speaking, Problem Analysis, Project Management and Budgeting, Team Building and Leadership. Topics like Democracy, Environment and Ecology will also be covered during the 15 weeks long program. Within that time frame the participants will also be asked to work on individual projects, where mentoring will be provided by the organisers.

The last team named itself the Expression Movement Group (EMG) and ended the evening session with a short performance revolving around the topic “the expression of life”. Different creative elements, namely vocals, acting, poetry, dancing and painting were mingled and eventually resulted in a collaborative canvas painting, which will be exhibited in the art studio of one of the group members. The EMG decided to continue their art work in the near future, performances in different countries like Tunisia, the UK, Austria and Italy are planned.

The variety of topics certainly had one thing in common: all the group members were incredibly engaged in their projects, which will partly be continued and ideally create change in the long run.

By Alma and Roua

The ocean of interests

„Not long ago I read through an African cookbook, when it suddenly struck me that this was the first text that was completely neutral towards Africa.“ With this and other statements 20 year old Katri from Finland elaborates on her interest in intercultural relations, reducing conflict and prejudice in society. How do cultures work and how are prejudices produced in the mind? Why do we behave the way we do and how is cultural knowledge acquired? Social psychology, which Katri studied for a semester in the University of Helsinki, provides her with answers that she aims to deepen with observations in everyday life.

In addition, Katri is a passionate listener of the very many individual stories from all the people she has met along the way, like during this UPF Program when she interviewed Maltese citizens about immigration. Also back home in Helsinki she takes great interest in working with immigrants and refugees, while being well aware that English – despite being the lingua franca of nowadays – has certain limitations. This is one of the reasons why Katri aims to learn as many languages as possible. Ever since she did some voluntary work and travelled in India, she started learning Hindi, while Arabic and Spanish are yet on the list.

Maybe Katri’s curiosity in so many topics and fields started at a very early age when she used to ask her parents, who are both scientists, why and how exactly things happen the way they do? Or maybe her open-minded attitude that every single conversation can have a huge impact in one’s life, as long as one sees the opportunities and dares to take them, always lead her towards new roads and interests. One thing is certain, however: no matter where Katri’s path will take her, she will keep on exploring the ocean of opportunities, an open space that is longing to be further explored.

by Alma

Hope is not an option for Jerusalem

written by Ala based on an interview with Alon

Born and raised in Jerusalem for eighteen years, today Alon is leaving “Kids for Peace” the organization that he joined five years ago, to join the Israeli military service. And for eighteen years he’s been familiar with the conflict that started in 1948 fifty years before he was born.

A Conflict of land more than a conflict of three different religions I’d say, yet I do not understand how far can they be apart? when they come from the same source and in details they are very much alike.

ala k4p tshirt

Actions speak louder than words they say, and I believe it is the same for this city. Ignorance on the other hand is the real enemy we are facing, educating ourselves about the other side and the will to compromise is what makes us find common ground and true Peace.

In his back pack Alon does not only carry his clothes but also strong believes and values that he got from a family that values justice and equality. Alon believes in Israel, however he also believes in standing against carrying military orders that violates human rights of the Palestinian people.

The five years that Alon has been with “Kids for Peace” has introduced him to the Palestinian point of view and a wider vision of the situation as a whole.

Therefore hope is not an option in Jerusalem but actions are. Just like Alon believes, we all need to start taking actions, to start understanding the other, to start making compromises that are just for both sides, to see beyond religion, race and language and to see each other for who we are “Humans”, that are capable of loving, of working with each other and most of all of living with each other in a mutual respect. To see each other as humans not as enemies, to understand that religion is a way of life not a reason to hate and kill.

ala photo 2

When Palestinians and Israelis are nothing but humans

written by Najla

When Palestinian and Israeli are nothing but humans!

When we hear the names Israel or Palestine, the first thing that comes to mind is the conflict these two states are suffering from. One land is being divided into two states where people are discriminated based on the part of land they end up in. If you live in the south, north or east of this land, then you will be an Israeli, while if you live in the west or middle of this land you will be called Palestinian. These Two nations had been fighting for a very long time each claiming that this piece of land is theirs.

Throughout years of endless wars, people from both sides started to realize that their problems will never be solved unless a CHANGE is made, and from this point of view, peace movements of both sides started to arise. Kids for peace organization is one of many organization who followed this vision of living in peace with the other side and as peace seeker I joined them in 2012.

As a Palestinian, I always knew how kind and generous the Palestinians are. I know how much they suffer from the violent actions of the Israelis. I have my own personal stories as I almost got shot twice and suffer through the check points everyday . However, I never got the chance to = hear their side of the story from an Israeli until I met Nitzan.

Nitzan is a 17 years old Israeli girl whose father had survived a bus explosion in Jerusalem several years ago caused  by a Palestinian man who bombed himself in the bus claiming that what he did is a reaction to the Israeli acts against the Palestinians. Nitzan’s story was as sad as the stories of the Palestinians. Thanks god her father survived but there were many victims on that bus who died or suffered from serious injuries.

Despite this tragedy that Nitzan had to go through, she didn’t allow hatred to blind her eyes and heart  so she decided to seek the opposite path. She joined kids for peace to help in creating peace with the Palestinians. And there is where I met this beautiful girl and got to know her more when we traveled together to join UPF project for creating change 2013.

During this experience, Nitzan  And I talked a lot about the situation. We explained each other’s point of view about the current conflict and shared personal stories. We became friends then sisters. Honestly I never thought I will meet an Israeli with great personality and joyful spirit.