Today we had the first meeting with the Arab Educational Center (AEI). We met in  the Sumud Story house, a community center where personal stories are collected. And personal stories we shared today! After a warm welcome and an introduction of the dialogue method that AEI has developed, we were invited to participate in a womens group. The best way to learn about a new way of dialogue is of course to experience it ourselves.

The dialogue focused on “Forgive and Forget”. We read a quote and reflected on it. “Feel deep inside what this words mean to you; what thoughts come to mind?” It was hard but we succeeded to be silent for two minutes and then started sharing stories about forgiveness. Our dialogue facilitator managed very well to create a safe atmosphere in no time, so very personal and impressive stories could be shared. A special moment of great openess and we all felt connected to eachother through our stories and across our differences.

We ended this dialogue with stating an action we wanted to do immediately. The same way a dialogue of ‘Nederland in dialoog’ ends. We decided among other things to walk to the wall just outside the Sumud House and looked at it together and made wishes for the future.
This wall that has been built right through the city of Bethlehem and separates the  city, the Palestinian villages and the settlements for security reasons. It’s very high and ugly and has disrupted a lot of lifes. In our blogs the wall topic will be discussed in more details the next days, I guess, because the impact on lifes of Palestinians is great.

The most impressive moments for me today were the sharing of stories and seeing the very professional dialogue facilitator doing an amazing job with the women. I learned a lot, not only from participating in dialogue, but also about living in the occupied territories of Palestine. 

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