By Sarah Stern
The first substantial conversation that I had with someone from my alma-mater, the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, about my participation in the Bard Palestinian Youth Initiative (BPYI), happened in Amsterdam Falafel, in Adams Morgan. It was Thanksgiving, and after heaping hummus on to our meals, and reminiscing about our Israel trip the past semester, I couldn’t help but tell him that I was going back to the region over the summer, but this time, I was going to the West Bank.
I explained the project; a delegation of Bard students travels to my friends’ village in Mas-ha, right over the green line, split by the security barrier, and we run an intellectual summer camp for Palestinian teenagers. We employ the same educational methods used in my three-week orientation to college, a Bard staple called “Language and Thinking.” We free-write (oh, do we free write…), and we talk. We talk a lot. We encourage creative expression, rather than destructive expression, and on the side, we do community service, and take them on excursions into Israel to places like Yad Vashem and the Dead Sea, that are normally very hard to arrange. Continue reading