From 2009 to 2013, we provided the exciting opportunity for students and teachers from our schools network in Ireland to accompany the Schools Across Borders staff to Israel and Palestine on an 8-10 day visit during the mid-term break in February.
The visiting students and teachers set their own aims for the week programme and are encouraged to keep a Personal Reflection Journal with a view to making a presentation on their experiences and reflections to their peers upon their return to Ireland.
The visit programme involved:
- meeting with the Israeli and Palestinian students and teachers in their schools in Jerusalem and Hebron respectively
- visiting religious sites in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Hebron, as well as other places of interest chosen by the local students and teachers in Jerusalem and Hebron
- daily reflections for the visiting group on individual aims.
The visit also provided a very special opportunity for the visiting Irish students to be hosted by the families of the Israeli and Palestinian students who visited Ireland and Northern Ireland earlier in the school year.
Upon their return to Ireland, each teacher and student was provided with a DVD copy of their visit were then used in their school presentations.
The visits by Irish teachers and students to Israel and Palestine served to:
- promote further engagement and ownership of the programme aims and objectives
- enhance the inter-school ethos between the Irish school groups
- promote recruitment of Israeli and Palestinian students to the programme
- add impetus to Israeli and Palestinian groups who have visited Ireland to advance peace-building communication tasks between each other
- provide valuable first-hand student- and teacher-produced material for future learning resources.