A teenage girl, her head covered in traditional Bedouin scarf, leans into the computer screen where she sees her new friends and, speaking Hebrew, says into her microphone, “Hi, my name is Miriam and I’m from the village of Um Batin in the Negev. Nice to meet you all.”
Miriam was one of a group of Jewish, Arab, Bedouin and Druze students taking part in a first-of-its-kind pilot, initiated by three partners – Israel Sci-Tech Schools, the Shimon Peres Center for Peace and Google – to promote co-existence.
Six months in, the students were ready to leave their safe cyberspace hangouts and meet in the real world. “I’m glad I made new friends and I can’t wait to meet them,” said Bara Abu Assa.
The entire group met twice, at Google and at the Peres Peace Center, in celebration of President Peres’ 90th birthday. They met President Peres himself.
“It was a very moving occasion and great honor for me to have met him in person,” said Sapir Oster, from Kiryat Motskin Sci-Tech. “President Peres spoke to us and told us how important these meetings were, and that we must learn to communicate with one another.”
Students’ enthusiasm spoke volumes of the success of this project.
“I think the goal of the project was to accept the opinion of others and respect the religion, beliefs and opinions of others,” said Rula Jamal from Israel Sci-Tech Schools’ Druze school, Hilmi Shafi Sci-Tech. “Technology helps us meet new people, connect with them and keep in touch.”
“It’s very exciting to meet people who seem different from us but are actually very similar to us, and become great friends,” said Yonatan Yosefzon of Yoqneam Sci-Tech School.
“I think I’ll remember this forever”. Inbar Zaluf, Kiryat Motskin Sci-Tech School
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