Hands of Peace summer program concludes

Hands of Peace summer program concludes


The Hands of Peace 2010 Summer Program ended exactly two weeks ago, and all of those purple shirts have been folded up and put away.  It was program full of a lot of fun and a lot of hard work…new friendships, knowledge and ways of thinking…many full and busy days and a few relaxing hours here and there.  I’d like to briefly summarize the Summer Program for those of you who weren’t involved this year!

This year we had a total of 41 participants:  18 Hands and 3 XLs from the Middle East, and 14 Hands and 6 XLs from the US.  The ME Hands were chaperoned by Jasmine Tamuz (Tel Aviv), Haya Barakat (Ramallah) and Ariz Haddad (Haifa), and the US Chaperone was our own past Hand/XL Afreen Ghousia from Des Plaines, IL.  The chaperones accompanied the Hands during their travels and on their many excursions throughout the program, including two “downtown days,” the visit to Life Directions Youth Agency on Chicago’s West Side and the religious services days, among others.  The chaperones also helped the Hands out with various issues or concerns that came up, and were key players for Cultural Cooking Night and the Farewell Banquet – the food was fabulous this year (thank you volunteer Kevin Schrimmer for running the kitchen!) all the skits were magnificently musical!

The Dialogue Sessions this year were run by two teams:  Husam Jubran (Bethlehem) returned for his fourth HOP year and co-facilitated with HOP newcomer Roy Gordon (California), and also new to HOP this year were co-facilitators Inbal Leibovits and Maisoon Badawi (both from Haifa).  As expected, the sessions were sometimes easy and sometimes really tough, but ultimately very thought-provoking and rewarding for all.

The XL Coordinator was Michael Rast from here in Chicago!  This year the XLs ran the daily icebreakers, coordinated the ever-popular Handshake Games, took charge of the discussion about religious diversity and the Life Directions visit, and of course mentored the Hands throughout the program.  

Program Director Ashley Bates was back again this year for her third Summer Program, and ran it like the ol’ pro she is!  She was helped by Assistant Program Directors Adam Heffez and Diane Hund who did everything from create the Orientation Manual to publish the popular purple sheets!  Volunteer Program Assistant Ahmad Hamad (Gaza) was also on duty to assist in any way.    

All in all, the staff this year was energetic, dedicated, and passionate about their work and making this an enriching experience for the participants – our Hands were in very good hands!

The many, many volunteers who help out through the year and during the summer are the foundation of HOP. They helped contribute to the success of HOP this summer by volunteering time, hosting a staff member or participant, donating a lunch, helping raise money, planning a program activity, and helping in some other way.

We’ll keep working on peace…
                …and have some fun along the way!!