Young Women From Israel, Palestine and the U.S. Join in the Hopes of Seeking Common Ground

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Seeking Common Ground, a Denver-based non-profit organization dedicated to empowering young women with the tools to create a more just and peaceful world, will once again bring together young women from Palestine, Israel and the United States to participate in the 12th Annual Building Bridges for Peace program. The program will begin with a two-week summer retreat held in the Colorado Rocky Mountains from July 28 Â? August 14.

Seeking Common Ground, a Denver-based non-profit organization dedicated to empowering young women with the tools to create a more just and peaceful world, will once again bring together young women from Palestine, Israel and the United States to participate in the 12th Annual Building Bridges for Peace program. The program will begin with a two-week summer retreat held in the Colorado Rocky Mountains from July 28 – August 14.

Building Bridges for Peace, the flagship program for Seeking Common Ground, brings together 40 young women (16-19) to participate in an intensive program where they learn new communication techniques, develop leadership skills and engage in activities that promote peace and the empowerment of women. After the program, participants return to their respective communities to continue in a year long follow-up program.

“Each year the experience at Building Bridges is different, reflecting the tensions that exist in their communities. But what is consistent is that by sharing their differences, these young woman find their similarities,” said Melodye Feldman, executive director of Seeking Common Ground. “As we celebrate our twelfth year of the program, we celebrate the stories of young women who come as enemies and leave as friends.”

One such story is of a young woman named Inas, who upon arrival to the Building Bridges for Peace program told her fellow participants that they were looking at the face of a suicide bomber. A couple months before, her father suffered a heart attack. The ambulance that drove him from his village to the hospital had been stopped at an Israeli checkpoint. He died in the ambulance, leaving her mother a widow with five young children to care for. Her pain and anger was palpable when she arrived to the BBfP program. Living in Palestine, she watched Israeli tanks and soldiers every day on her way to and from school - these were the only Israelis she had ever met until she participated in the BBfP program. Two weeks later, on the last day of the summer program, she cried. When asked what she was feeling, she said that she would miss being in the only safe place she knew and with Israelis that she considered her “best friends.” She said she couldn't imagine hurting her new friends or anyone else. She learned that “all life was holy” and special, and that violence was not the way to end the conflict.

Seeking Common Ground’s programs are grounded in the philosophy that in order to create peace, people must accept that conflict is an inevitable part of life and learn to approach it effectively and constructively. Through integration, socialization, communication and leadership development, participants of SCG programs gain the skills to resolve conflict peacefully and the self-confidence to effect change in their communities.

“By giving individuals the proper tools today, we are laying the foundation for a better future,” continued Feldman.

Limited media opportunities are available. Please call to request an informational DVD.

Contact:

Steven Shapiro

303-886-6342

sshapiro@commstratgroup.com

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