All the groups hosted by Coexistences in Switzerland have been dialoguing in depth back home. It is a long term work that will have started in Israel several months and even years before the trip to Switzerland.
All the groups invited by Coexistences to Switzerland have worked together for a while and are engaged in an in-depth dialogue work that started months before in Israel. The participants that are selected in the two communities come from a variety of backgrounds, but sharing a common interest in openness, curiosity of the process and of the Other. We always strive to host groups in equal numbers of participants from the two communities.
These weekly meetings are facilitated by professional moderators and aim at increasing the knowledge of the other: its culture, traditions, religion, gender roles, personal and collective history in an attempt to break down the fear and the stereotypes and slowly replace perceptions by facts.
The approach to the identity of the other is done through discussions, role plays and workshops, even week-ends in the desert. The program takes into account the evolution/maturing of the group as well as the current situation in the country and the occupied territories. For example during the Gaza war at end of 2008, one of the meetings was about the human values that each harbored and valued and the violent and painful impact the conflict had on each member of the group. All the themes debated at these meetings are first proposed and agreed upon by the members of the groups.
AN INTENSE WEEK
The trip to Switzerland is much more than a nice reward. The work started in Jerusalem continues during the ten days of the trip for half days every day. These are ten days in a row of intense “coexistence” during which the participants will be hosted in pairs, having to share the same room and also during three days of total immersion in a chalet in the mountain. Freed from the stressing context of the conflict, dealing with an unfamiliar environment and in a situation of intense, long and positive coexistence, the rules of the game change and a solidarity emerge within the group.
Having hosted more than 18 groups by now, we can testify to the fact that the stay always results in a cristalisation of the group, i.e the group become even stronger during and after the stay, that the participants create strong interpersonal bounds and that they realise that they share far more in common than they initially thought.
After this fruitful stay abroad that has opened new perspectives, the groups continue to meet back home. Some have made presentations to schools about their experience, and continue their action for dialog and mutual acknowledgment.
Please refer yourself to the section achievements and projects for greater details on specific projects.