FFI Conversation Series

April 2020 Conversation: Listening with the Heart in Alabama

POSTPONED! New date coming soon.

Friends Forever International 

1 Morgan Way Durham, NH 03824
Light refreshments will be available
About the Event

After decades of citizen diplomacy to some of the world’s most contentious hotspots, The Compassionate Listening Project undertook its first domestic journey in January 2020 when 24 peacemakers traveled to the Deep South. Meeting with people across the political spectrum, from Black civil rights activists to White conservative Republicans, the group offered the healing practice of Compassionate Listening. Joel, Nancy Jo, and Scott will share narratives of people they met and will offer personal reflections on how the journey helped them deepen their understanding of their own biases.

If you would like to join us, please RSVP by Wednesday, Mar 18 to Amelia@ff.international.

About the Presenters

Joel Berman, Nancy Jo Chabot, and Scott Dickman are long-time friends and residents of Merrimack County who have made multiple Compassionate Listening trips to Israel-Palestine. Joel is a certified Compassionate Listening facilitator and leads a Compassionate Listening practice group in Concord. Nancy Jo and Scott are members of the group.

About the Series

We've renamed our Lecture Series as the FFI Conversation Series to better reflect the give and take nature of these events! As always, we are always open your suggestions for topics, speakers and presentations. To apply to lead a conversation or to nominate a potential speaker, fill out this form. Interested in sponsoring an FFI Conversation Series Event? Click on the Donate Button and select "Sponsor a Lecturer".


Friends Forever International hosts monthly education nights at our headquarters in Durham, NH. Our Conversation Series is designed to further engage local community members, informing them of the current state of affairs in the international community, introducing them to local artists and organizations, and more!


Each event is free and open to the general public (Note: space is limited, please RSVP!)

*Signing up for FFI Conversation Series update emails will add you to our email list and you will receive other FFI related emails as well. We try not to send more than 3 emails a month! If you want to stay up-to-date on FFI happenings without emails, follow us on Facebook!

Previous Conversations
A Compassionate Listening Journey
2019 Artists in Residence
Race Unity
Eleni: Cyprus
Team Tajikistan
Combatants for Peace
Creativity Workshop
Team Ukraine Youth Workers
Raiders For Change
Dara Fisher
Patricia Frisella
Show More
Conversation Series Application and Suggestions


We are always looking for interesting presentations to hold at the Campus! If you would like to present, please fill out the application to the right, being sure to include a description of what your presentation would entail. 


To suggest a topic or speaker, fill out the form at right and include the suggested speaker's name, contact information and a short description of why you think they would be a great conversation starter.

A Compassionate Listening Journey
About the Event

Anne will present about her Compassionate Listening Journey to Israel and Palestine (this past October) through sharing the personal narratives from people they met.These stories from Israelis and Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza provide insight into the human experience, too often overshadowed by the larger political view of “the conflict.” They represent people who face major challenges on a daily basis and some who find courageous ways to reach across and work with “the other.”

About the Presenter

Anne Romney, MEd, is a Portsmouth resident, educator, and group facilitator who is actively involved in social justice work in the Seacoast area. She is a trained facilitator in the program White People Challenging Racism and frequently presents workshops on the book, Waking Up White. Anne has been involved with local organizations including Friends Forever International, Portsmouth Listens, and the Black Heritage Trail of NH. This past fall she had the privilege of traveling to Israel and Palestine for two weeks on the Compassionate Listening Project.

Artist in Residence Talk: Paz Die Dean and Nechama Levendel
About the Event

Mixed-media artist Nechama Levendel (Israel), who was our first Artist in Residence in 2018, returned to the FFI Farmhouse in Durham, NH with her friend and fellow artist, Paz Die Dean (Spain). The two set up a studio in the workshop space and spent a busy month creating, inspired by the New England fall. Community members met them and enjoyed their work on Thursday, Sept 19, 2019.

About the Presenters

Nechama Levendel
Nechama Levendel is a mixed-media artist who works with old books to create sculptural journeys. Since 1984 she has lived in Ein Hod artists village in Israel. This is Nechama Levendel’s second residency with FFI. 

Paz Die Dean
Paz Die Dean is currently working on various projects about women connected with her exhibition of sculptures, “Open Heart”, and making collective sculptures with groups of women.

To read more about Paz Die Dean and Nechama Levendel visit: https://www.ff.international/residence

Race Unity, Understanding America's Most Challenging Issue
About the Event

Aaron will bring us "an exploration using Audi-Visual of Human Reality, our common biological and spiritual ancestry, understanding the nobility inherent in all humans, possible steps to eliminate racism and bigotry to achieving Race Amity, and catching glimmers of what the fulfillment of the "Vision of The Oneness of Humanity" is beginning to look like." 

About the Presenter

Born and raised in Jackson, Miss., attended MIT as an undergraduate, majoring in Mathematics, and worked as a Software Analyst at several different greater Boston computer companies. And worked at the National Passport Center as a Passport Adjudicator as part of the US State Department Consular Affairs division.

As a Baha'i, he's traveled in that capacity to visit people in Nigeria, Liberia, Israel, and Brazil. And for a purely cultural experience, traveled to Zanzibar, Ireland, the Azores, and to Oman on several occasions to attend their annual cultural festivals in Musqat and Salalah, and staying with friends
there who are originally from Tajikistan.

FFI Pop-Up Talk: Cyprus - Why FFI should come to my home country with Eleni Partakki

Eleni will share her story of growing up in Cyprus, home to the last divided capital in Europe and give a brief history of the conflict. She has participated in numerous peace -uilding efforts and is a leader in multiple social movements in her community.
She will also share her experience of being on the team of volunteers working to bring FFI to her island and empower its young people to work together towards a better future.
To learn more about FFI and Cyprus visit https://www.ff.international/middle-east

About the Presenter

Eleni Partakki is an international student from Cyprus and Romania. Currently at Smith College, she is the Secretary of the Student Government, co-founder of the Rotaract chapter, founder of the Mediterranean Student Association, Business Manager at The Sophian, and more. Conflict resolution and mediation have shaped her understanding of the world and she hopes to help pass that on to her communities.

Burnout, What it is & how to combat it in your professional life

Linda will talk to us about ways to immunize ourselves against burn out, compassion fatigue, and vicarious trauma. She helps people bring a non-judgmental approach and compassion to their work without carrying the extra burdens that can come with working with people who have experienced trauma. The presentation also includes ways that organizations can be more responsive to employees and volunteers who are experiencing compassion fatigue and burnout.

About the Presenter

Linda Douglas is the Trauma Specialist for the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. She has provided training to crisis center staff on the issues of domestic violence, substance abuse, and mental health over the past nine years using trauma-informed materials. She has her M.S.Ed. in Counseling from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia and has worked in the area of substance abuse and domestic violence since the mid-1990s.


Celebrate National Poetry Month at this month’s FFI Conversation! Join Sam Rush, local poet and past FFI staff member, on a journey through poetry’s role in society and personal expression. Explore some exciting pieces of contemporary poetry and try your pen at a poem or two of your own!

Poetry and Expression, A workshop with Sam Rush
About the Presenter

Sam Rush grew up in South Florida and began writing after developing progressive hearing loss and realizing how many words each word could be. Sam was a finalist at the National Poetry Slam as a member of The House Slam team in 2016. Sam’s work has been featured in Muzzle, The LA Times Review of Books, Glass, & The Journal, as well as on Button Poetry, and SlamFind. Sam has spent the last decade working in experiential education and youth empowerment and also likes birds. 

Team Tajikistan

Hear from our first ever adult team from Tajikistan, which is comprised entirely of women who are at the top of their fields! This event will offer a chance to meet these incredible women and hear about their work back home and their experiences on the FFI program.

About the Presenter

The 5 women that make up this team from Tajikistan are successful lawyers, NGO leaders, and international relations specialists. You can learn more about them on our Tajikistan webpage here.

Combatants for Peace

February's FFI Conversations Series brought the Combatants for Peace to speak. They told their personal stories of transformation from violence to nonviolence and shared the work that they are doing to bring peace to their homeland. We also screened a short clip of their award-winning, documentary: Disturbing the Peace.

About the Presenters

Combatants for Peace was established in 2006 when Israeli and Palestinian former combatants, people who had taken an active role in the conflict, laid down their weapons and decided to work together.  The Combatants are coming to speak in New Hampshire, to tell their personal stories of transformation from violence to nonviolence and bring peace to their homeland.

Celebrating International Creativity Month

January's FFI Conversations Series brought you Sharon Lester, a local artist and author, with her Creativity Workshop! Sharon led her Creativity Workshop in its newest form, having never offered it the same way twice. It was an evening of fun exercises and explorations into what creativity is and how it enriches our world. We started the new year off with some intriguing conversation and some new ways to bring creativity into our lives!​

About Sharon

Sharon Lester is an artist, thinker, author, and general creative conduit living in small-town New Hampshire. Her love of color has led her to create in numerous mediums including beaded jewelry, painting, creating patterns and sewing, and crocheting. Sharon is the author of Tales From My Monkey Mind, a collection of 32 essays and 30 poems available at local bookstores and on her Etsy store, https://www.etsy.com/shop/MamalestersTangents.

Meet Team Ukraine Youth Workers

Come and meet the 5 amazing youth workers who make up the first ever Ukrainian team to participate in Friends Forever International’s program! Learn about their trip so far which has included all the signature FFI experiences as well as tailored events just for them. 
Light refreshments will be served.

About the Team

Team Ukraine Youth Workers will be in New Hampshire for only 8 days in total but they have already made a huge impression on the FFI staff! This team is devoted to helping young people back home and we hope their experiences with FFI will help them. To read more about this team click here.

About the Team

The Raiders for Change are the first team from Spaulding High School in Rochester, NH to go through the FFI program. The 12 students came together in the Winter of 2018 and spent their Team Building Phase preparing and fundraising for their April 2018 Skill Building Phase, which took place over 10 days in Northern Ireland. To read more about the Raiders for Change click here.

Join us for a presentation about the first Spaulding High School team to participate in the FFI program with members of the Raiders for Change. Learn about their trip to Northern Ireland which included everything from cultural experiences to alumni workshops to public speaking!

Our Skill Building Phase, Raiders for Change Share Stories
Cross-Border Education: A guided discussion on locally responsive practice

Dara discussed her research on how local cultural, economic, and social systems shape cross-border educational partnerships, focusing on a case study of a collaboration between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Singapore Ministry of Education to create the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD).  After describing this case, Dara answered questions and guided a discussion on culturally responsive practice in cross-border education.

About Dara

Dr. Dara Fisher is a graduate of the Ed.D. program of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she studied cross-border higher education. Dara is interested in student and faculty experiences at international universities developed in collaboration with American higher education institutions, as well as the mechanisms by which U.S. universities transfer their cultures overseas.

Poetry and Peace

Through readings of poems by herself and others Patricia introduced the assembled listeners to some of the approaches poets have made to peace and conflict. Most of us have a picture of what war and conflict look like, but do we have a picture of peace? What would peace look like? Where does anger come from, and what role does it play? Those were some of the questions we explored during this moving lecture series.

About Patricia

Patricia Frisella lives on a tree farm on the side of a high hill surrounded by fields and forests and watched over by one of the few remaining manned fire-towers in the state of New Hampshire. She has won many awards ranging from a 2012 International Merit Award from the Atlanta Review to the 2007 Independent Publishers IPPY Bronze Award for the anthology, The Other Side of Sorrow, Poets Speak Out about Conflict, War and Peace to the Anthony Piccione Memorial “Poets for Peace” award. Most recently she has had poems published in Liberation Poetry: An Anthology, edited by Tontongi and Jill Netchinsky (Trilingual Press, 2011), in Entelechy International (New England College, 2012), in Out of the Depths, (Union Theological Seminary, The Poverty Initiative, 2016), in Poet Showcase (Hobblebush Books, 2015). She has been involved with ekphrastic projects in her community, and has been a participating literary artist in artesprit www.artesprit.org which brings installations of collaborative art to the city of Rochester, NH. A lifelong activist and past president of the Poetry Society of New Hampshire, a non-profit dedicated to promoting poetry, she can often be seen being torn in two directions at once. 

Noam Tells Her Story

The night started at 5 pm with some light volunteer work followed by a presentation by our 2018 Eileen D. Foley Fellow, Noam, at 6 pm with some light refreshments. Noam spent her time in the United States writing and giving speeches, meeting FFI supporters and community members, volunteering at local organizations and interning at the FFI Headquarters. ​

About Noam

Noam is a graduate of our Middle East Program. In the summer of 2016, Noam spent two weeks at our host community in New England, witnessing firsthand the positive impact of community collaboration. After learning what it takes to achieve social change, Noam returned to Israel and made it a goal to become a leader in her own society. 

A Colored Man in Exeter, Michael Cameron Ward

In the summer of 1957, the Ward family moved from Brooklyn, New York to Lee, New Hampshire to escape gang violence. Racial tensions were high and they were the first "colored family" in the area. Needless to say, over the years the encountered many interesting experiences and created a storied life. They also became respected members of the community, led by parents Harold and Virginia Ward, a couple with strong convictions and compassion.

Harold, Michael Cameron Ward's 94-year-old father, was hospitalized in the beginning of May 2015 with only weeks to live. On the 20th he made a request of his son: "Michael, I want you to write the stories of our existence. I want my great-grandchildren to know where they came from."

Then, as Michael sat beside his father's bed on the 4th floor at Exeter Hospital, his father recounted stories of his life that had never been told before. If not captured they would be lost forever. On June 9th, 2015 Harold died, and Michael has been fulfilling his father's request ever since, writing the stories of his life, filled with humanity and compassion.

A Way Forward

6 presenters will be leading this interactive experience. Tonight’s presenters have traveled as citizen delegates to Israel and Palestine to learn and practice Compassionate Listening. They heard many Israelis and Palestinians open their hearts and share their personal stories.

About The Event

The night’s presentation introduced the principles and practices of Compassionate Listening, based on the conviction that hearing each other's stories – without judgment – opens the possibility of mutual compassion, understanding and, in time, restorative justice. Attendees will have the opportunity to listen deeply to other people’s narratives, to reflect on their reactions, and to discuss the compassionate listening process.

Ornithology and Peace

Noam Weiss will be speaking about his experiences with conflict management between birds and farmers. He'll also discuss the human ecology of biological corridors.

About Noam

Noam Weiss is the director of the International Birding and Research Center in Eilat, Israel. Noam's passion is devoted to safekeeping the flyway of the migratory birds of Eilat and creating appreciation and empathy to birds. The Eilat Bird Sanctuary, that Noam runs, is a hub of nature conservation, research that supports nature conservation, environmental education and eco-tourism. Noam devotes a lot of his energy to cross-border cooperation in nature conservation between Israel, Palestine, and Jordan, trying to build a bio-corridor, based on both wildlife and human ecology.

Participant Speakers at the Farewell Party

Come and hear some of our young people present their speeches on the Farmhouse lawn. Meet and mingle with other FFI supporters and our 2 second session groups, Saturi and Peace Squad.


Four young people, Julnar and Gili from Team LeoSis, and Maria and Chloe from Team YEP, gave their speeches to an assembled crowd of community members, volunteers, staff, and the rest of their teams. Both speeches were powerful examples of how telling your story and listening to the stories of others can build bridges of understanding that help us create peace.


As part of our 2016 Farmhouse Education Series, we invite you to join us for a presentation from a graduate of our 2011 Israel Program, Ben Ben-Ami. Ben will be sharing his personal story since participating in Friends Forever and his current work as a peace activist in the Middle East.

The Practice of Creating Peace: A Journey with Friends Forever
About Ben

Since graduating from Friends Forever Ben has devoted the majority of his time to making his community a better place. He has led workshops for people with disabilities, tutored at-risk youth, and volunteered with children living in the Gaza strip who have been diagnosed with cancer. In 2012 he was awarded the National Volunteer Award by Israel’s Ministry of Education.


Ben was also the recipient of the 2014 Robert Raiche Fellowship; a scholarship given to Friends Forever alumni who show the same dedication to community building as our late founder. Since then he has gone on the facilitate workshops and dialogues for hundreds of Friends Forever participants and alumni in Israel, Northern Ireland, and Uganda.

The Fifth Season: The Story of a Palestinian Teacher

As part of our 2016 Farmhouse Education Series, we invite you to join us for a private screening and discussion of the short film, “The Fifth Season.” The film sheds light on the biography of Palestinian teacher and author, Ziyad Khaddash. Ziyad’s methodology is highlighted through a workshop in which he encourages his students to activate their imaginations and expand their horizons by conquering their school, sharing their demands with their principal, and taking down their school’s wall. The film aims to parallel the Palestinian school and its surrounding walls to the situation in Israel, approaching the themes of occupation and racial segregation. The script is based on Ziyad’s literary texts and features students and children from towns and refugee camps in the West Bank.

About Shadi

Shadi is a current student at the Sam Spiegel Film & Television school in Jerusalem. A graduate of Jordan University of Science and Technology, Shadi is an experienced architect and award winning photographer. His works have been internationally recognized and continue to be entered in competitions around the world. Shadi will be in New England to share his newest movie, photograph this year's Israel program, and assist with the architectural design of Friends Forever's new campus.

A Third Way to Think About Israel and Palestine

As part of our 2016 Farmhouse Education Series we invite you to join us as two New Hampshire community members share their experiences traveling to Israel and Palestine with the Compassionate Listening Project. The presentation will include verbatim testimony from peacemakers across the geopolitical spectrum whom they met while in the Middle East, a personal reflection of their experience, and an interactive introduction to practicing compassionate listening.

About Compassionate Listening Project

The Compassionate Listening Project teaches powerful skills for peacemaking in families, communities, on the job, and in social change work locally and globally. The curriculum for Compassionate Listening grew out of their many years of reconciliation work on the ground in Israel and Palestine. Adapting their trainings for peacebuilding in everyday life, the Compassionate Listening Project began to teach in the U.S. in 1999 and continues to develop and grow their curriculum. They now offer training and workshops worldwide for everyday peace-building and facilitator certification and bring delegations of community leaders to Israel and Palestine to practice Compassionate Listening firsthand. Helen and Joel were a part of Compassionate Listening’s 2015 delegation to Israel and Palestine.

An Uncommon Commitment to Peace: Citizen Diplomacy and the Portsmouth Peace Treaty

As part of our 2016 Farmhouse Education Series, we invite you to join us in learning how local people made a difference in 1905 by creating an atmosphere of peace that helped end the Russo-Japanese War. President Theodore Roosevelt chose Portsmouth, New Hampshire to be the site of negotiations between Russian and Japanese delegations. Roosevelt never came to Portsmouth but won the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize for orchestrating what is now known as multi-track diplomacy that included other world powers, the Russian and Japanese delegations, the US Navy and New Hampshire hosts in the thirty days of negotiations that resulted in the Portsmouth Peace Treaty.

About Charles

Attorney Charles B. Doleac is a NH Superior Court moderator and senior partner with the Portsmouth firm of Boynton, Waldron, Doleac, Woodman and Scott, PA and leads seminars on professional ethical code. He founded the Japan-America Society of New Hampshire in 1988 and the Portsmouth Peace Treaty Forum in 1994 to encourage the study of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty and its meaning for modern diplomacy.


He helped organize the 2005 centennial celebration of the Treaty, created the Portsmouth Peace Treaty Living Memorial cherry tree project and helped pass legislation creating Portsmouth Peace Treaty Day to celebrate citizen diplomacy. In 2011 Mr. Doleac received the Foreign Ministry of Japan's Imperial Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette for his efforts; and in 2015 he was named Daniel Webster International Lawyer of the Year by the NH Bar Association.

Young Leaders Making Change: Speaking Out

As part of our 2016 Farmhouse Education Series, we invite you to join us for a presentation from our 2016 Robert Raiche Fellow, Courtney Robinson. Courtney will be sharing her personal story about making an impact since Friends Forever and her work as an activist and political change maker.

About Courtney

Courtney Robinson, a graduate from our Northern Ireland program, participated in the 2012 Skill Building Phase hosted by our Gulf Coast U.S. Host Community. After participating in FFI, Courtney was inspired to return home and fight for a better future for all members of her community. Within a few months of returning from the United States, Courtney organized a protest of young people and trade unions - across peace lines - to call for an end to sectarianism and education funding cuts. A few weeks later, she organized against the Department of Employment and Education to prohibit cuts to Northern Ireland’s Education Maintenance Allowance; a small weekly stipend that helps working class young people stay in school.

Friends Forever International

One Morgan Way

Durham, NH 03824

+1.603.397.5301 | office@ff.international


Youth Leadership | Empowerment | Change

2019 Artists in Residence

Go to link