Above: Yuval, in white, with 3 boys from an afterschool program serving at-risk kids.
Two Week Trip, Lifelong Change
"…after two weeks in the states I became a different Yuval, a better one. From someone that couldn't accept people that are different than me, I became someone who loves the different and someone that only wants to volunteer and help the society. I understand that all humans are brothers and there is no reason to hate each other, I’m only 16 but I’m
trying to affect my friends and family (I can already see a change in my family's perspective). I had to make a decision between FFI and a big family trip, I chose FFI and that was sure worth it. The workshops (received in the US) gave me tools for life that I’m using every day. Ayal, Loai and Fadi became my brothers and I have gained true friends for my life. Participating in FFI program was the best decision I have ever made.
My friends and family saw a difference in my behavior, I became a better person, more polite and always volunteering when there is an opportunity to help someone. Also they noticed that I’m a comfortable at talking in English and meeting new people that I don’t know. There is a conflict in Israel between Jewish people and Arab people but in Haifa you barely see it, but whenever I see a racist post on Facebook or if I hear someone that is racist I always try to talk to them and tell them my experience with FFI because usually their opinion is just a lack of knowledge.
I grew up in a very right sided society that is telling me that I should only be on the right side and all Arab people are the same. That didn’t stop me from joining the FFI program. FFI is a leadership program. It doesn’t matter what is your political view. After the program, all of our group's perspective changed so imagine if we spread it more and more? In the end more and more people's perspective will change.
Peace is possible in Israel. Haifa is the best example of coexistence in Israel. We all live here like brothers and sisters…you can see it in our project (*volunteering with an afterschool program that serves Arab children at-risk), we all played together without barriers. When the little Arab kid was on my shoulders I felt like he is my little brother and I could see no difference between us, even not the language. Kids are kids they just want to play. It doesn’t matter if he was on my shoulders or on one of my Arab friends shoulders, for him, he just wanted to be with us. By helping him, he helped me. He helped me know that Peace between Israel and Palestine is possible."
-Yuval, age 16