Middle East Jam Creates Positive Action in the Region
The Middle East is a region of profound cultural, ecological, and spiritual significance in the world today. With hundreds of billions of dollars being spent on military conflict, and thousands of years of deep and guiding spiritual and cultural underpinnings, it is a place of deep violence and deep love. YES! considers it a strategic intervention point in the building of a more healthy, just and compassionate future. Other program organizers recognize it as their home, and find extraordinary value in convening with peers who are woven in the same cultural fabric, and who are working for a world of peace and human dignity.
“The intense sharing of fears, pains, experiences and life stories, allowed for powerful understandings, healing, and a sense of rejuvenation that I am certain will empower us all to do our work from a more balanced and sustainable place. I found the innovative and creative methods of facilitation and group building refreshing and very effective in creating an atmosphere of safety and trust that helped us overcome many tensions and sensitivities that relate to our region.”
— Ilana Meallem, 31, Arava Peace and Environmental Network, Israel
The third annual Middle East Jam will unite 30 dynamic and committed young leaders from 14+ nations throughout the Middle East. Participants will converge in Jordan’s southern desert October 24-31, 2010 for a week of networking, skills sharing and community building. Participants are visionary social entrepreneurs engaged in efforts to nurture sustainability, peace, and human dignity in communities throughout the Middle East. Participants will come from diverse faiths and cultures, ranging in geography from Northern Africa to Iran, and from Turkey to Pakistan. The Jam seeks to go deeper than conventional cultural exchange and political dialogue conferences as participants explore their own lives, work and visions, build trust, and generate real, lasting partnerships. The first two Middle East Jams, held in 2008 and 2009, were groundbreaking and pivotal moments for their participants. The 2010 Middle East Jam seeks to build on and deepen this success.
“The Jam was the most important week of my life so far.”
— Atefeh, 28, Youth Steering Committee, United Religions Initiative, Iran
The Middle East Jam embraces a holistic view of social change, believing with Gandhi that: “We must be the change we seek in the world.” We look for participants who are growing and building positive change on three simultaneous levels: the internal (they are growing spiritually and personally); the interpersonal (they are seeking to bring love, integrity and honesty to their relationships); and the systemic (they are building a world of justice, dignity, peace and balance). We believe that the personal and the public are connected, and as such, this event synthesizes the exploration of our personal lives and journeys with our collective work for a better world. It provides a space for participants to examine not only their work and commitments, but their beliefs, values, emotions, and modes of analysis — all in a community of trust that allows important insights and perspective to be gained.
“Being an Israeli in the Jam was interesting for me. I really wanted to connect with everyone but I understood that for some participants it was a struggle to allow themselves to come close to me. When finely we passed this ‘border’, we became best friends. Although I knew about Palestinian refugees, it was the first time that I got to meet them and hear their feelings. I’m burning from inside with the need to change, to do something. The reason that I have those strong feelings, I believe, is because the Jam was focused on the people, on us. It wasn’t like most of the peace conferences that I have been to where I heard people lecturing, and their words came in from one ear and went out from the other. When you focus on who you are, it will stay with you even when you say goodbye. Thank you all for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this family, Jamily, for letting me feel more alive, and for letting me meet these amazing honest people. I can’t stop thinking about my new friends, people that I fell in love with in only one week. I don’t understand how such a connection can happen so fast.”
— Neriya, 21, Oasis of Peace, Israel
“The Jam affected me a lot. I wish to see all the countries sitting together like our circle, so they could learn to talk as we did and resolve the conflicts between them. After coming back home, I felt more strong and open minded, and I have started to listen to people more carefully.”
— A., 21, Nablus, Palestine
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