Lessons From Cyprus
Encompass Trust’s flagship programme is the international Journey of Understanding (JoU). Twice a year, the program brings young people from diverse communities, cultures and religions together to take part in life-changing activities which challenge ideas around stereotype, conflict and community. Historically these programmes have involved young people from all over the world, including the UK, US, Israel, Palestine and Indonesia, and have been based in Cyprus. More recently, we have chosen to focus our Journeys of Understanding on the particularly polarising conflict between Israel and Palestine.
This May the programme hosted a group of sixteen young people – half Israeli, half Palestinian – and brought us, along with facilitators, to ‘neutral territory’, for an intensive week of workshops and activities. The purpose of this programme was to break down the barriers between us, and show us how our shared humanity transcends cultural and political differences. For many of my fellow participants, this was the first time they had spent time with individuals from the other ‘side’ of the conflict. Alumni from the previous Journey of Understanding Programme also attended and helped us through what was a very emotional and challenging week. I was honored to be selected as a participant.