Stephanie received The Ronson Family Student Scholarship to Hebrew U for the summer of 2018, where she studied in the Coexistence in the Middle East Program.
Can you tell us about your program at Hebrew U?
I am a recipient of the Ronson Family Scholarship which allowed me to participate in the Coexistence in the Middle East program. This program focussed particularly on peace between the Palestinians and Israelis by using some of the key areas of conflict such as religion to forge tolerance and reconciliation. This program was unique from any other I have participated in, since it was highly interactive and we went on many field trips to see and hear first-hand, the various perspectives on the conflict. One of my favourite trips was the Peres Centre for Peace where we had presentations and the opportunity to ask questions of Mr. Nadav Tamir (the policy advisor to Shimon Peres) and the external relations and outreach coordinator, Lara Portnoy.
What I love about the work they do is how thoughtful they are in creating programs which are relevant to populations who are often overlooked in peace discussions, such as new mothers, who actually have an enormous role to play in passing on attitudes and stories to their children.
What new skills did you learn?
Studying at Hebrew University was incredible, since it allowed me to experience a culture different from my own in Israel, and understand both sides of the conflict on a deeper level than I could have from reading books in Canada. I believe my experiences also gave me new skills like the ability to identify and listen for someone’s needs when they are sharing traumatic and painful events. These skills are very relevant to my future goal of becoming a psychologist who specializes in war-related trauma.
I have become more aware of the colonial impact and oppression of First Nations in Canada, and wrote a paper contrasting their experiences with the Palestinians. I am so excited that one of my professors is sharing this paper with the Ambassador of Canada to Israel!
How did you grow from your experience at Hebrew U?
It is hard to decide which parts of my experience to share with you, since every moment was truly amazing. This experience stretched and grew me. Through it, my heart and compassion expanded for both sides. Without your assistance, this would not have been possible for me, so thank you, so much!