By Sharon Alsoodani*
The November 2013 UK Speaking Tour has come to a close, and after five days, two community events, 12 school sessions, four donor meetings, one university event, and 582 people reached, I’d like to reflect on the eventful week.
From November 25-29, Abeer Al-Natsheh, a OneVoice Palestine youth leader from Jerusalem, and Danielle Cumpton of OneVoice Israel and currently studying at Tel Aviv University, spoke to diverse audiences, visiting Al-Hikma Islamic School in Luton, the Jewish Society of City Boys’ School and South Hampstead Girls School, as well as a Quaker event in central London.
The Youth Leaders also helped form part of the panel for a discussion on the role of women in conflict resolution at an event hosted by Women in War and International Politics at King’s College London. I’ve had great experience speaking at many of these schools before, so the students had a fair amount of background knowledge which stimulated debate and led to vibrant discussions.
Although some questions asked by audience members were challenging, Danielle and Abeer handled each session with grace and patience and left the participants excited about the work of OneVoice. One student commented afterward that, “I see [this conflict] on the news every day, but I don’t know which side or narrative to trust. This is really helpful, to hear from people who are actually from there. How do I get involved?” For others, the highlight was just the personal connection with someone from Palestine or Israel. Girls at the Al-Hikma School were delighted to hear Hebrew spoken aloud, and many participants have signed up on OneVoice Europe’s online discussion forum to continue direct contact with the Youth Leaders.
Abeer and Danielle returned to their work in Israel and Palestine more motivated, having communicated to participants at different sessions the urgency of the current negotiations and the need to act now.
OVE is grateful to Lara Atkin for generously supporting this tour; Greg Rack and Cornelia Meyer for hosting meetings; and last but not least, our Youth Leaders Abeer and Danielle.
*Sharon Alsoodani is OVE’s Education Director and General Manager.