Posted by Sharon Schendel on Feb 03, 2019
Hands of Peace Site Director Sarah Heirendt with Program Chair Scott MacDonald
The interfaith organization Hands of Peace (HOP) seeks to empower young people to find their voice and raise their voice as agents of change. San Diego Site Director Sarah Heirendt, our speaker at the January 31, 2019 meeting, explained how HOP brings together Palestinian, Israeli and American teenagers between 15 and 17 years-old for intensive summer programs held in San Diego and Chicago. During the summer program, the participants engage in daily dialogue sessions about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that are moderated by professional facilitators, take part in team building and leadership exercises, as well as educational and cultural activities. They also have free time with members of the group and the HOP community. 
HOP youth who do not live in the San Diego area are hosted by one of 30 volunteer host families. The program also involves over 200 volunteers during the program and throughout the year. 
The Summer Program is the first of three phases of the HOP journey. In regional seminars held throughout the subsequent year, new alumni of the summer program have the opportunity to discuss the challenges they face as they take their newly gained knowledge and understanding back to their home communities. Older alumni are encouraged to continue their role as leaders of a new generation through internal dialogue or partnerships with other organizations. 
HOP has a strong connection to Rotary. Multiple clubs in District 5340 have worked with HOP, and the HOP has received District Grant funding over the past four years. HOP is currently working toward securing a Global Grant. There are multiple ways to get involved in HOP, including being a host family, encouraging local youth to apply to participate, volunteering time, and donating funds.