The Peace it Together Program
Peace it Together unites Palestinian, Israeli and Canadian youth for a program of dialogue and filmmaking. The films they co-create are used to advance reconciliatory approaches to ending the conflict. Staff support youth as they foster dialogue and share their films in their own communities, and become empowered to work in equitable partnerships as peace builders.
The next dialogue and filmmaking intensive will take place in Summer 2014. You can help make our program a reality by making a donation today.
Peace it Together Program Overview
With every program Peace it Together selects 10 Israeli, 10 Palestinian, and 10 Canadian youth with the capacity to become peace builders and change makers. Following a preparatory process in their home countries, youth engage in a month-long dialogue and filmmaking intensive on Canada’s West Coast. Participants work to build connections as individuals and delegations, while developing a deeper critical understanding of the conflict and theories of peace building. Informed by this knowledge and understanding, youth then work in teams of one Palestinian, one Israeli, and one Canadian to co-create films that reflect their unique view of the conflict, or explore key issues related to it.
Staff provide youth with facilitation training, then support youth to design and facilitate workshops in their home communities, in which they use their films to open up courageous conversations about the conflict and motivate audiences to take action toward peace building. Additionally, youth are empowered to pursue an array of self-determined initiatives to transform the conflict and build peace.
Our work is centered on three distinct processes:
- Dialogue: learning about and listening to each other
- Filmmaking: engaging in the creative process
- Sustaining the Impact: sharing the films and encouraging others to build peace
The dialogue component takes place in a very safe and structure environment, run by professional facilitators. Facilitators steer the youth into potentially uncomfortable situations, and then support them to safely air out their grievances and their concerns with the other side. With an emphasis on teaching them how to listen, rather than what to think and do, participants witness the breaking down of barriers of alienation, anger, and fear. Facilitators encourage the youth to discover each other’s conflicting collective narratives, and mutually exclusive historical memories. By the time the filmmaking process begins, the participants tend to show high levels of vulnerability and openness.
To create films together, filmmakers need to discuss controversial topics and give up some of their own ideas and expectations– a process that’s essential for reconciliation and peace. In the filmmaking process, the youth socialize, negotiate and discover each other freely. Professional film mentors let them “go at it” on their own, and facilitators step in only when there is an impasse.
This approach gives young people the opportunity to engage with each other independently, in an honest and profound manner. Barriers keep moving until they are adequately out of the way, allowing participants to create profound and outstanding films together. The filmmakers are left with an authentic feeling of unity and ownership of the process and final products.
3: Sustaining the Impact
Peace it Together is committed to facilitating youths in making a difference, by ensuring they have the support they need to find opportunities to share their films and to spread their messages of peace as widely as possible. We also encourage them to continue to engage with the “other” through new projects that they create or by matching them with existing peace organizations working on issues that interest them.
Whereas the dialogue and filmmaking program can be seen as the a shot-in-the-arm kind of intervention, which tends to lead to rapid and dramatic changes, a longer-term support program is like a gradual and slow “drip effect” that allows deeper, and thus more lasting changes.
Peace it Together Youth in the Community
Following the 2011 dialogue and filmmaking intensive, Peace it Together staff in the Middle East and Canada have been working hard to support all three cohorts of participants after they returned home. Israeli and Palestinian youth screened their films in schools, community centres, living rooms and cafes, sparking fascinating dialogue amongst their home-town audiences. Almost 60% of audience members at screenings in Israel and Palestine said they were interested in learning more about "the other" as a result of watching the films, and following one screening in Tulkarm, more than 50 teens and young adults were inspired to apply to cross-border programs in the region.
Meanwhile, in the 18 months following the 2011 summer intensive the Canadian youth reached over 2,000 people in their communities, screening their films and facilitating engaging workshops about the conflict in classrooms and on campus, as part of film festivals and other public events, and during Peace it Together's own Struggling with Peace symposium. At every screening, youth used creative facilitation to foster conversation about complex topics that intersect with the work of Peace it Together: from peace, conflict resolution and international relations; to negotiating the challenges and opportunities presented by collaborative art and filmmaking.
These community screenings represent a significant expansion to Peace it Together’s programming. Never before has there been such coordinated and sustained local support – in Israel, Palestine and Canada – to keep alumni engaged and committed to affecting change on the ground. And never before has the impact of Peace it Together programs been more profound and exciting.
Students participate in an exercise called "Web of Voice," designed to illustrate group dialogue dynamics,
during a screening workshop facilitated by Canadian youth from the 2011 program (October 2012).
Through these screening workshops, Peace it Together staff are forging long-term community partnerships. We are witnessing our youth build peace in new and creative ways, as they grow as leaders in their own communities.