JPB gathered 25 Israeli, Palestinian and American peacebuilders and civil society professionals in July for an intensive, two-week professional training program at Acer Farm in Brattleboro, Vermont. EXCEL (Exploring Conflict, Education and Leadership) offered participants the opportunity to learn new skills in peace-building and conflict transformation, as well as form strong professional peer-to-peer networks and partnerships.
Dr. Paula Green, renowned educator and peace builder joined the JPB team, co-designing and co-leading the program. Dr. Green brought a wealth of experience from her work founding the internationally famous Conflict Transformation Across Cultures program (CONTACT) and the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding.
During EXCEL, participants explored how to confront the past, intervene in the present, and co-create a shared vision of a secure, diverse, and sustainable future for the peoples of Jerusalem, Israel, and Palestine. The program's design utilized a workshop method, focusing on experiential learning design and psychosocial peace-building skills. Participants engaged in spirited dialogues and interactive simulations with the aim of sharpening their program leadership skills.
"Beyond excellent! I'm looking forward to doing more: to taking the next steps in training, applying what I've learned in my life and my work, and to maintaining the connection with the staff and participants, who have inspired me so much!" - EXCEL Participant
Additionally, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish participants worshipped together. They learned about one another's faith. They ate delicious homemade kosher meals and were able to engage with one another on a personal level through recreational activities including arts, music, and sports programming. JPB is grateful to all the volunteers, participants, and educators who helped make this pilot program a success. Plans are already being formed to bring this program to Jerusalem!