McKay Center Director Chad Ford’s extensive experience leading peacebuilding workshops and mediations around the world has shaped his curriculum and classes, and inspired countless peacebuilding students. He is currently working on a major project in the Middle East with the Arbinger Institute and PeacePlayers International to create sustainable peace among Israeli and Palestinian communities. Throughout the years while working on this project he has been able to give a number of BYU-Hawaii students the incredible opportunity to travel with him to Israel and experience this hands-on, real-world peacebuilding effort.
Gabriela Corbett and Sophia Hutchison joined Dr. Ford on his most recent trip to Israel and were able to attend and teach workshops for PeacePlayers, attend a Shebat service and a round table discussion sponsored by the UN, as well as walk Jericho Road, meditate in the Garden of Gethsemane, visit Galilee and the Mount of the Beatitudes, and spend time getting to know many Israelis and Palestinians.
Gabby shared a bit about her experience, and how she had read about and imagined both the biblical sites and PeacePlayers International, but it was very different to actually be there and see it. "What impressed me most were the people who lived there and were fighting over the land. They were made real to me. I met the girls whose lives were changed by participating in PeacePlayers. While they were just drops in the ocean, they were strong and the ripple effects in their homes, schools and communities were huge.”
Sophia had a hard time picking her favorite thing about the trip, but felt that getting to know the people was the best part. “The people were so kind. They invited us into their homes and fed us amazing dinners. It was really impactful to have dinner in both a Palestinian home and an Israeli home. Both were so inviting but very different experiences. Hearing the stories of the kids in PeacePlayers was really inspiring. They are so young, but have been through so much. At the end of our workshop each participant went around and shared what they wanted their impact to be and what their biggest obstacle is in achieving their impact. So many kids expressed how people in their lives, even their parents and teachers, strongly oppose their efforts at PeacePlayers. It is hard for them to pursue their dreams and help build peace because important people in their life criticize and ridicule them for talking to an Israeli or a Palestinian. A twelve year old girl told me that a teacher kicked her out of her class when she found out she worked with PeacePlayers. It was so inspiring to hear the struggles they go through to be a part of something bigger than themselves at such a young age. It inspires me to do the same.”
Feel free to reach out to Gabby or Sophia to hear more about their amazing experience, and check out https://www.peaceplayersintl.org/ppi-programs/ to learn more about PeacePlayers International’s peacebuilding work in Israel and other parts of the world.