In 2018 we took 20 young adults from Israel-Palestine to meet with young adults in England on our first Erasmus Plus exchange program. The ten-day trip was an opportunity to expand the horizons of the young adults’ perceptions of the world and to help them find their role for peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During the trip the young adults engaged in cultural representation nights where on one Friday evening, the Israelis baked Challah (a ceremonial braided bread) and served it to the group for Shabbat dinner. On another night the Palestinians presented an imitation of a traditional wedding and gave the group dabke folk dance lessons. On the final cultural night the group were taken to visit a local British carvery for a customary Sunday supper. These nights gave the young adults a chance to share, learn about and embrace each other’s countries and cultural identities, as well as have some fun together! Throughout the week, the group also partook in facilitated discussions to confront the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to learn how to transform conflict into positive outcomes. The exchange program enabled them to see the beauty of each other’s individual identities and better understand each the ethnic group represented, both culturally and historically.
One young man from England’s life was profoundly changed by this experience. Originally, he had agreed to only come for the first two days, having a family trip already planned. However, during the exchange he cancelled the family trip due to the immense value of what he was receiving through participating. For the first time, he got a basic understanding of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Soon after the ten day trip he began his first semester of university, taking a course on the history of the British Empire where he learnt more about England’s role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In 2019, when the British youth came to Israel-Palestine for the second part of the exchange, he sat in the lobby of Banksy’s Hotel Museum (dedicated to the British role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, specifically the work of Lord Balfour) and shared how this history lesson in real life had changed his life. He found out why it is so important for him to be involved in reconciliation in the Holy Land as an Englishman.
Erasmus Plus is a European-based fund facilitating youth exchanges between the European Union and partner countries in the Middle East and North Africa region. Any young person, aged between 13 and 30, is eligible to be involved with an exchange, and any EU country non-profit can apply for funds.
In July this year we have another Erasmus Plus youth exchange happening in Belgium. For more information about the trip contact your local Erasmus Plus representative or send us an email at Musalaha and we’ll direct you further.