A week in the Middle East with Friends from the USA

 

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PPI Board Chair Emeritus Ron Shapiro shares a moment with participant families in Jerusalem.

Last week PPI-ME hosted a visit for 30 friends and supporters from the United States, including Ron Shapiro, PPI board chairman emeritus and founder of the Shapiro Negotiations Institute, for a week of basketball with our kids, geopolitical tours to help contextualize our work and lots of traditional feasts along the way!

The week started off with a welcome dinner at the home of a family who has three kids in PPI – ME. Visitors were joined by veteran participants and their families, and they got a chance to hear about the impact PeacePlayers has had on their lives.

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PPI board members John Vaske and Brian Kritcher get into the team spirit with kids from PPI – ME.

Our visitors had the opportunity to participate in three joint activities (twinnings), where they got on the court with Arab and Jewish participants. The twinnings took place in Jerusalem, Ein Kerem, and Kfar Saba, which allowed visitors to see and meet a good portion of the participants from the different communities where we work. They were put through the drills and activities that are designed for twinnings as icebreakers and fun games build connections and cooperation between Arab and Jewish youth.

The visitors also got a chance to learn about Jerusalem and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict through guided tours that explained the history and geo-political climate within the Middle East. Two days out of the trip were dedicated to seeing some of PeacePlayers’ work in the West Bank, touring Bethlehem’s historical sites, and more great food, of course. The trip came to a close with the visitors spending their last day in Tel Aviv taking in the sand and sun.

Visits by international friends and supporters are always fun, but they serve a greater purpose.  For PPI – ME participants, meeting people from around the world helps them understand that people care about their experience and want to know more and help make things better regarding the challenges of living in this region.  For those who visit us, these visits show them exactly who and what they are rooting for and makes them stronger and more effective advocates for ending the conflict.

 

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