on dialogue and public speaking in the SLP
On Monday I started at the Solutions Not Sides office as an intern. My first impressions of the role? I have the chance to read, research and write about Israel-Palestine in the international media, discover the grassroots activism to government policy work happening both in Britain and abroad on conflict resolution and facilitating dialogue, and see first-hand how the SNS programme has impacted students around the country. All of this is helping me build my experience and understanding of how an international organisation can work toward facilitating dialogue on Israel-Palestine within all sectors of society, something I want to apply to an MA in peace studies in the future.
I applied for the role after it was advertised on the Student Leadership Programme (SLP) network, the programme I participated in last summer 2017. The weeklong SLP provided 20 students from different backgrounds the opportunity to learn from and engage in discussion with activists, government members, religious leaders, students, NGO workers, and others who had extensive knowledge on the Israel-Palestine conflict. My previous experience living in the West Bank and being involved in joint movement non-violence activism, primarily in Palestine, had piqued my interest in conflict resolution and the international community’s influence in the peace process.
Unsure where in Britain I could find the activism I was interested in, and underexposed to perspectives outside of my friendship group or the organisations I worked with, the SLP provided a space to listen to and discuss viewpoints I had not previously considered or encountered. The two fellowship speakers, Dawoud and Michal, both represented the importance of pushing for a peace process, openly sharing their personal experiences and engaging in dual-dialogue with one-another. We had training on negotiation and were encouraged to build on our public speaking skills, something I have always struggled with, as a group.
On the final day these were put to the test in a negotiation simulation, in groups we represented a country and as individuals a minister concerned with a different aspect of forming a solution. It was incredible to see the increase in knowledge and passion from all the participants, debating what they think would make the best resolution to the conflict, and engaging with viewpoints from both ends of the spectrum. I am excited to have the opportunity to work with on the 2018 SLP as an intern this summer and to see how a new group of students embraces the chance to have a non-partisan experience learning about Israel-Palestine.