Last week, a group of Post-16 and Year 11 learners had the rare opportunity to meet young Palestinian and Israeli speakers to learn about the lives of the people behind the news headlines.
Over the course of two days, the students were encouraged to embrace diversity of identity and opinion on this prominent issue. Through discussion and group work, they were encouraged to take a ‘pro-solution’ message from the session rather than seeing the divide they are confronted with in the news.
Solutions Not Sides, who runs the educational project for young people across the country, believe that it’s important that young people realise that many of those effected by the current conflict simply want peace.
Haseeb, one of the Year 11 learners who took part, said: “The event was really educational. It highlighted exactly what it said in the name; choose ‘solutions, not sides’. Ultimately, I believe that the media covers a lot of the negative aspects of Palestine and Israel and not the highlights, one being Al Aqsa. I believe that in order to conclude the conflict between the two, the government need to rethink and stop unnecessary laws.”
Another learner, Maarya, concurred: “’It was an amazing and emotional experience to hear about the stories of real people and the daily struggles they go through to try and live a normal life. It was heart-breaking to hear that people whose homes have been destroyed 15 years ago still keep their house keys to symbolise that they had a home. No one deserves to live in ruin and constant fear.”
Layla Azeez, Head of Humanities at Braford Academy, commented: “This workshop was an exciting opportunity to challenge stereotypes and be presented with fair and unbiased views of life in both Israel and Palestine. This gave students the freedom to speak openly and have difficult questions answered. It promoted a platform for safe communication across a range of topics including the media portrayal and the history of the area. It was invigorating to hear first-hand accounts of life in the two countries and gain an insight into the ‘Solutions Not Sides’ programme. Students have taken away an experience here that has been both rewarding and refreshing.”