This week’s blog features an interview with PPI – Middle East staff member Nissreen Najjar. Nissreen has two roles within PPI as an Arbinger Facilitator and Project Manager. In addition to her position at PPI she is also a professor and lectures at Bethlehem University and Dar Al-Kalima College.
How long have you been a part of PPI and why did you want to become a part of this organization?
I have been apart of this organization for 3.5 years. I wanted to work here largely due to my past experiences. I have worked with Jewish and Arab youth before and it was not always the best situation. I was looking forward to the opportunity of being able to work with these groups again but this time I wanted to focus on ideology. I wanted to have the chance to make a positive impact on all our realities here in the Middle East.
Can you share an experience at PPI that has impacted you personally?
The best example is probably the relationship between two girls teams at Hand in Hand (Arab team) and Bet Shemesh (Jewish team). After the 2nd Gaza war these two communities really gave me hope that PPI can make a difference in peoples lives. At one of the twinnings immediately after everything happened the girls were really able to open up and communicate with each other about the conflict. They did it in a very mature way and were not disconnected at all. It was amazing to see them sharing their feelings after such an emotional and trying time for everyone.
What is something that has inspired you about the participants in the program as someone who has prior experience in this field?
Something that inspires me every day I work in PeacePlayers is how open and honest the kids are. They speak with such innocence and candor and are so open with me and with each other. It is extremely inspiring and refreshing to be apart of such an amazing group of people.
Do you think programs such as PPI really work?
It is a very difficult situation here but I think PPI does work because it is changing the mindset of the youth in the program. You cannot change everyone but if you can change and open up one person’s mind then you have done your job. The participants in PPI will in turn share what they have learned with others and their families, which is how we are able to make an impact on communities.