Today's revolution is understanding, make peace happen!
These are the words that express Project TRIUMPH, an international program that brings Arab and Jewish teens from the Middle East together for a year long program of leadership and peace making in their local communities. There are 20 teens and 2 chaperons from Haifa, Israel. (nine boys, eleven girls, ten Arabs, and ten Jews.) We picked them up at LAX on Sunday, May 4th at 6 a.m. Day 125.
It's been one heck of a first week for the kids and also for my wife and partner, Frances, and I. We are at an old camp in the mountains above Simi Valley, California. We are learning about ourselves and examining what it is to be human. We are learning to recognize and manage the invisible forces in this world we were all born into. It is all new. Challenging. Full of possibility.
Frances designed Project TRIUMPH for our local Rotary Club and we have been blessed to be the main instructors since the beginning, when there were only a few of us. There are now dozens of volunteers here in California and on the ground in Israel. Our program is growing and making a difference to not only the kids, but to everyone associated with it.
It always amazes me how much I end up learning about myself during these events. During the first two years I felt I had to provide a degree of discipline and intervene as my young charges poked one another, talked out loud, seemingly ignored the lessons, fell asleep, took pictures of one another, passed notes, drew pictures, played cards, listened to their i-pods, and broke into arguments in Arabic and Hebrew - during class.
But not this year. This year I've found a new place to come from. Not from control but from freedom. This year I decided to not correct, not to use force, not to make them do anything. It is hard. I find myself wanting to yell at them. Wanting to tell them to sit up straight and pay attention. But I do not. Yet they are beginning to align. They are begining to pay attention. They are begining to engage - because they want to engage - not because I am forcing them to engage.
In quiet times, the kids come to me and ask a question or make an observation that could only be asked or made if they were listening to every word that was said. That could only be made if they fully understood the context of the conversation. Miraculously, they seem to. They are teaching me how to be effective, even in the face of what appears to be "no listening". There is no need to yell, to argue, to disagree or make them wrong. There is only a need to be authentic. In many ways, I am reaching new levels of understanding in ways I never dreamed of. Today's Revolution is Understanding!
Today is day 132 and my new crew from the Middle East is teaching me well.
Teaching me to create a Global Enterprise.