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How did the Summer Encounter program positively effect your life?
"It inspired me to found an NGO--the Palestinian Medical Education Initiative--to support the efforts of Palestinian physicians who are working to improve the quality of medical education in Palestine."
"The program was one of the best experiences of my life. I made great friends and truly experienced what life was like living in Bethlehem under occupation."
"Wow! Where to start? The Summer Encounter Program opened up doors that I didn't know existed. It opened my eyes to a part of the world that I'd only previously had abstract and ambiguous ideas about. It changed the entire trajectory of my learning."
"The Palestine Summer Encounter experience altered the way I view justice, peace, humanity, and remembrance. Before the program, I didn't know a lot about the politics and history affecting the lives of those in the West Bank, and through the summer I came to understand better the daily lives of those who have always known it to be this way. I'm able to discuss the situation in the West Bank clearly to those who see it only through stereotypes and assumptions."
Having learned so many skills in non-violent communication from my experience, I am now passionate about peace in all situations, and see it as a tangible goal.
"The Palestine Summer Encounter changed my life. It provided me an opportunity to see the world and specifically the Palestinian issue from a new lens. I made life long friends who continue to shape the person that I am today."
"Palestine Summer Encounter was an amazing experience for me. It reoriented and shaped my attitude and knowledge of the Middle East in a way that allows me to be a better Christian, and to be more fully human by seeking peace and understanding."
What, if anything, have you done since participating in the Summer Encounter related to Middle East activism, peace and justice, ministry or public awareness raising?
"I have done at least 10 presentations to church groups, organizations such as Kiwanis, and university audiences. I have also been on the local radio station at least twice. I have also been involved in working to bring others to local audiences."
"I've volunteered as a journalist and have written articles about my experience living and working in the West Bank. I've raised money for Azzeh refugee camp to help them build a women's center and have continuously talked about and shown pictures of my travels around the West Bank and my encounters with all the lovely people living there."
"I spoke at my university on a panel regarding women's rights and experiences in Palestine and the Levant. I also co-coordinated a three-week island-wide symposium on Palestine including lectures, documentary showings, panel discussions and workshops."
"I took a job with Mennonite Central Committee in northern Iraq in 2007, coordinating MCC's support for local Iraqi peacebuilding and development efforts throughout Iraq, where I am still working now."
"Ironically, I had been a secular Jew before joining the encounter. The experiences of the encounter caused me to seek spirituality, and I have returned to traditional, Orthodox Judaism. Unfortunately, religion is too often used in the service of continuing the conflict, when its natural role should be to further peace."
"Immediately afterward I wrote an op-ed that got published in the Seattle PI. I've gone to different talks around Washington, DC about the conflict. This past summer I worked with a group called Search for Common Ground on the US-Muslim Engagement Project. Currently I work for Sojourners, and will contribute articles to their blog and to their magazine."