Nicole Jacobsen
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On Friday, October 11, three young women from Palestine and Israel regaled members of the Episcopal School of Dallas freshmen class with stories about perseverance, courage, and respect. Members of Creativity for Peace, an organization dedicated to developing the next generation of female leaders and peacemakers, attend a camp in New Mexico meant to unite Palestinians and Israelis in an effort to diminish any prejudicial attitudes they had about other religions.

Kimberly Rogers, ESD’s Religion Department Chair, organized the visit in hopes of educating students about world peace and how young adults can make a difference on a local or global level.

“The Creativity for Peace visit came at a time when students were studying the key issues of the Palestinian and Israeli conflict in their World Cultures class,” Rogers explained. “I hope students came away with a much better understanding of the emotional and political complexities of the situation, and were inspired by the dedication and friendship of the three women who spoke to us.”

“When I arrived at the camp, it was the first time I got to meet Israelis and Palestinians from Gaza,” Jwana Ghaleb, a 23-year old student from the West Bank of Palestine said. “I learned how to be a better listener and came to see everyone as a human being. Now, I’m more confident to speak my mind and make my voice heard in society.”

Ghaleb, the founder of her own peace organization in Palestine, is speaking to the American Congress in Washington D.C. in January.

“I believe that peace cannot be achieved without justice and equality,” she said. “I also believe that I can change the world by being honest and believing in my dreams.

After Ghaleb’s presentation, students heard from 20-year old Shirit Milikovski, a naval commander in the Israeli military. When asked what her typical day is like back home, Milikovski says she’s wakes up, teaches a few courses in electricity, and then spends her free time working out or socializing with friends. She told the ESD freshmen she also spends a lot of time watching American movies with her friends.

Milikovski and her younger sister grew up in a world of bombings and rocket explosions. Now a leader within Creativity for Peace, Milikovski joined the organization in 2009 to meet a Palestinian face-to-face.

“They’re normal like me,” she said upon meeting the young Palestinian women at camp. “We have the same hobbies, and I can understand and relate to their suffering. The camp taught me that if you have conflict with someone, you should talk about it with them. You’ll be surprised to find they can often relate to you.”

Mai Shbeta, a 22-year old law student from a small village in Israel, grew up with a Jewish mother and Muslim father; she says her dream is to create a bridge between two people and promote peace. She has spoken at the World Economic Forum in Davos, and attended meetings of the Counsel on the Status of Women at the United Nations, hopes to one day become a human rights lawyer in her native land.

“I’ve never understand how you can hate someone you don’t know,” Shbeta asked. “How can someone always see the differences they have with someone, but not the commonalities?”

As the presentation neared an end, one student asked what the three women thought of the U.S. Is it like what they saw in the movies they watch?

“It seems so easy to live here because everything and everyone seems so nice,” Shbeta said, “But we know there is judgment and racism everywhere. It’s our generation’s job to work towards peace.”

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