What has been the impact of your solution to date?
Skills acquired by participants during PELS are key throughout their careers as they pursue solutions to environmental conflicts after they leave the Institute. In 13 years, PELS has influenced over 600 AIES alumni. Over each semester, course evaluations have highlighted the positive effect PELS has had on students’ perceptions of each other. For example, the EcoME Center, established in 2011 by AIES Alumni. The goal of EcoME is to create a space in the Middle East, accessible to Israelis and Palestinians for meetings, workshops and ongoing contact. The location makes it possible for Israelis and Palestinians to meet with no need for permits. EcoME is one example of how our alumni have taken the lessons learned in PELS and turned them from theory into reality. Another project in the West Bank involves two AIES alumni, an Israeli man and a Palestinian woman, working together to provide renewable energy solutions to marginalized Palestinian communities.
What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?
Over the next 1-3 years, we hope to increase our student enrollment from 35 students per semester to 60 per semester. As a result, we will average about 120 alumni each year. In addition, alumni continue to initiate joint ideas and projects, working through the Arava Alumni Peace and Environmental Network (AAPEN).
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
Any deterioration in Israeli-Palestinian relations, whether political, economic, or military in nature, can create barriers that interfere with the success of our project. However, in the past, the basic concept of the PELS has proven itself when we see the students themselves rise to the challenge of overcoming a difficult situation and reaching out to each other.
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
Enhance & develop PELS to include additional relevant and pertinent components
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Increase Palestinian staff and faculty in the Arava Institute & specifically for PELS to strengthen the program overall
Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world [125 words]
When Roee came to AIES, it was the first time he saw a woman wearing a hijab (Moslem head cover). He was in shock that someone so religious could come to study at a place like AIES. He got to know Dawlah and stopped noticing the hijab. He learned to respect her wisdom and opinions. He grew to be her friend, and saw Dawlah instead.
Once, Dawlah was coming out of her room. She saw an Israeli soldier walking onto campus. In fear & dread, she hid in her room. All her contacts with soldiers had been at checkpoints, and had been bad & humiliating. After he changed, she saw it was Roee, back from reserve duty. He heard that she had been scared and came to talk to her. She realized that inside the uniform was her friend Roee who she could respect and talk to.
They laughed and said how concrete and convincing their experience was; how they learned not to judge by how someone looks - how, along with the identity of Israeli Soldier or Moslem Woman, a whole world could be inside the costume