MEDIMUN 2018: Learning from Friends

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By Avi Scharlat

We can learn a tremendous amount from books, but the knowledge that is attainable through those means is limited. There exists a whole other understanding of reality that is impossible to obtain through reading.

One can only be exposed to that reality through personal interactions and experiences. Interactions and experiences like staying up all night and talking with someone belonging to a people that you have been taught to fear and avoid since birth. Interactions and experiences like explaining your perspective to a group of people from a foreign land who probably haven’t even ever met anyone from your country and actually getting positive responses. Interactions and experiences like listening to someone who, according to the media, sits on the opposing side of a conflict with you and actually finding common ground. Interactions and experiences like hearing opinions from real life people from different cultures and different backgrounds instead of just relying on hearing them second-hand through the media and your community.

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Waiting for the closing ceremony

These interactions and experiences that I encountered on my trip to Cyprus are only the beginning of a long list that completely changed my perspective on the world. I could have stayed at home for those three days and read every single book on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Jewish people, and the Palestinian people, and the information I learned would have been nothing compared to the wisdom I gained in Cyprus. I will never forget this trip, and I will never forget the friends that I made along the way. Not Jewish friends. Not Palestinian friends. Just friends.

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Group hug at the end of the conference

MEDIMUN 2018: Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

 

By: Ofri Bohadana

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With UNFICYP spokesperson Mr. Aleem Siddique and force commander Major General Mohammad Humayun Kabir

When my parents drove me to the airport and asked me if I was excited and happy I told them I was. But in reality I could hear my heart beating so fast, and I started to think about the worst thing that could possibly go wrong during this trip. The moment I walked in the airport and saw the group that I was going to be with the next couple of days I let my judgmental nature take over and I immediately tried to distance myself by sitting on side benches. During the security checks I slowly started to bond with some and by the time we got to the airport terminal we were cracking jokes and my judgement was completely gone.

After our flight and long tiring ride to the apartment, we were shown to our rooms. I shared the room with two Muslim girls and the first night was a little rough given the fact that I didn’t understand Arabic. The next day we had breakfast and rushed to the competition.

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Some coffee and orange juice before the conference starts 

When we got to the building we got tags that had our names and the rooms we we’re going to be in during the conferences I got to bond with the Muslim girls and meet new people. Even though the conference was both mentally and physically exhausting, the endless laughs with the girls really got me through it. The next couple of days were defiantly the most meaningful days I’ve had in a long time.

During the weekend we got to meet kids from Jordan and talk about Palestine and its meaning to them. Even though I did not agree with everything that was said, I was open to different point of views and their views mattered to me. I also got to learn a bit more about Islam and its values. I got a chance to know people for who they are.

I think the biggest lesson that I took from this trip is to look at every person as an individual and not judge a book by it’s cover.

Ambassador Shambos: Shape Your Future

 

Briefing with Ambassador Shambos before the delegation

 

From February 8-11, Debate for Peace led a delegation of 18 students to the MEDIMUN conference in Nicosia, Cyprus. The delegation was planned with the help of the Embassy of Cyprus in Tel Aviv, and included a pre-trip briefing with Ambassador Shambos. Ambassador Shambos issued the follow remarks to the delegation on the occasion of their return:

Dear DfP participants,
I had the good  fortune to first  meet Steven and your  wonderful team last summer, and learn more about the crucial work done through Debate for Peace,  in bringing together Jewish, Arab, Muslim, Christian students from all over Israel and beyond, through your participation in Model UN conferences.

I was hence delighted to observe that students like yourselves debate, negotiate and aim to resolve the most difficult and pressing challenges in international relations as a perfectly unisoned team.  It is this consiliatory team spirit that gave me the idea that the DfP participates at the Mediterranean Model UN (MEDIMUN) in Cyprus  – something that I’m happy to learn proved to be an amazing experience.

I am  honoured to actively second your cause because you prove that what  you do matters. It matters because  I represent a country of which a third has been invaded and that, after four and a half decades, still experiences the tragic results of foreign invasion and illegal military occupation, which forcibly continues to divide the two communities of Cyprus (Greek and Turkish Cypriots).

I hence understand how important it is to support young people that have the courage to look forward. Young people that break down stereotypes and cause  paradigm shifts.  Youth that builds bridges of understanding. That nourishes what unites us.

I hence salute your strength to be representatives of peace building. You are aware that your job is not easy. Because after all peace is not easy. This is why it is all the more important to support you as you cultivate messages of tolerance and integration, with respect to diversity and pluralism.

In this journey we cannot but stand by your side and do our little bit to help you make true your vision of a better and sustainable future for your generation and beyond .

What is also crucial is that as you grow older, and as from young participants in DfP  you become responsible members of your societies, decision-shapers and decision-makers, you don’t lose sight of the vision you have today. I hope you carry the torch of a different, better reality with you, throughout your lives.

You are the shapers of your future. Make it your own. You have Cyprus ‘ unwavering support.

Thessalia S. Shambos

Members of the delegation in Cyprus

MEDIMUN Thoughts: Join the Movement!

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We’ve started a movement. It wasn’t clear immediately, but it is now. Those are my thoughts after yet another extraordinary delegation, this time to the MEDIMUN conference in Nicosia, Cyprus.

Everywhere we go as a group–students of all faiths and backgrounds– Jews, Muslims, Christians, Israelis and Palestinians, laughing and learning together, we open eyes. In the airport, on the street, on the train, walking around as a group leads to the inevitable question: “Who are you?”

And the answer–concise or detailed depending on the situation, is less important than the question. Because the question means that we’re challenging how people think; breaking stereotypes; changing paradigms. The question itself means that we’ve succeeded in helping people to think of a different, better reality, a world that we’ve managed to create for ourselves as a group.

As impressive as everything else is–high school students competing in high-level diplomatic simulations on challenging topics, often in their second or third languages; meeting diplomats and conflict resolution specialists; tackling the most difficult topics that others are afraid to touch, the most striking thing about our group is that it has morphed into a family–a beautiful, diverse, multiethnic, multireligious and bi-national family. That’s clear to everyone who sees the group. It it confuses observers, hopefully they see how happy everyone is together and are inspired as well. Because at this point we’re a movement, and we’ll only continue to grow. So join us!

Humility, Diversity and Beauty in Kosovo

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A few weeks ago, I had the privilege to go to the beautiful country of Kosovo, and participate in KIMUN 2017.

It was an unforgettable and a unique experience. An experience that taught me a lot– starting with the history of Kosovo, to the latent beauty in a simple life with humble people.

The people in Kosovo are incredibly humble, nice and sweet. They offered their help at anywhere and anytime. There is diversity there and it is inspiring how much they’re connected to their history.

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Moreover, the conference was interestingly different: its system was different, delegates were a part of 2-3 committees throughout the whole conference, we got to debate and vote in the parliament itself.

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In conclusion, I am very blessed to have had the chance to go to Kosovo, meet the incredible people there and participate in such an interesting conference. I will for sure give it another visit in the near future.

By: Nour Suliman

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A Trip to a Newborn Country: We’ll Be Back!

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The first week of December, I and 10 other high school students were honored to have the opportunity to travel abroad to Kosovo for a Model United Nation conference, “KIMUN”.

Our group included students from three religions: 5 Muslims, 1 Christian and 5 Jews. Not only in religion was the group different, but also in opinion and ideas. But with all those differences we found a lot more similarities between us, and because of those differences and similarities we become such a big family that care for each other and love one another, and I proudly call them my family.

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We were traveling as part of an organization that gave us this amazing chance called “Debate for Peace”, that has as one of its main aims to try to achieve peace between Arab and Jewish students, and in my opinion we have definitely reached that goal in this trip.

I’ve learned so much in my time in Kosovo, about the country and its history; the history of the nationality of the Kosovo people.

The People there fought strongly to defend their country through the years so that Kosovo can have its independence, which it finally achieved in 2008. That’s why it’s still called a “New Born”.

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Fortunately, we went to beautiful and wonderful places in Kosovo that are filled with history and stories and met with some incredible people that told us about more amazing historical events that happened in Kosovo. I would love to visit more places there and see more sites that mean so much to the citizens.

The people of Kosovo welcomed us so warmly from the start of our journey till the end; with open arms and huge smiles, they are very kind and so amazing that you can’t help but care for them and call them your friends.

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This Model UN conference was very effective for me in so many ways. One of them is to have the confidence to stand up straight in front a group that includes students who are younger than me and also older, to give my speech with raised voice showing no hesitation.

I honestly can’t wait to go back to Kosovo, to see those wonderful, amazing, great people again and also to see more of what Kosovo has to offer. This trip was the most memorable experience in my life.

By: Alia Habiballah

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KIMUN 2017: Beautiful Memories

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My name is Baraah Massalha, I’m 15 years old. Six months ago, I joined the “Debate For Peace” program and from there began the march to achieve the goals of my life.

During this period I have had great experiences, including a conference in Kosovo which was the most special and unique experience I ever had.
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Through this wonderful experience [visiting Kosovo] I have come to know a new state, a new civilization, new friends and, of course, realistic heroic stories for the people of this majestic country.
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Spending time in this beautiful country with nice people, the great experiences and activities, will keep this trip among the most beautiful memories of my life.
By: Baraah Massalha
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