Frequently Asked Questions
What is the mission of Creativity for Peace?
Our mission is to train young Palestinian and Israeli women to partner as leaders by transforming anger and prejudice to mutual respect, facilitating an understanding of the other, and inspiring action to promote equality and peace.
How do you achieve that mission?
Young women begin by attending a three-week summer program in Santa Fe, New Mexico. At camp they learn to speak authentically and listen compassionately, share their personal stories – often of the violent deaths of loved ones – and transform anger and prejudice into real friendships. After summer the program continues in Israel and Palestine with year-round training and mentoring.
How old are the young women in your program?
Campers are 15-17 years old. Our most senior participants are in their late 20s.
What are the participants' backgrounds?
They are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Druze, and other religions and ethnicities and include Palestinians from the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel as well as Israelis.
How many young women have completed your program?
We have held 18 summer programs with a total of 255 teens. Each camp consists of 14-20 participants, half of whom are Jewish and half Palestinian.
What are the origins of the organization?
Creativity for Peace was founded in 2003 by psychotherapist and humanitarian Rachel Kaufman, artist Debra Sugerman, and peace activist/writer Anael Harpaz. These women believed that the decades of violence and struggle between Palestinians and Israelis would never end if left to adults and governments. They felt that young women had the greatest chance of making peace in their countries, based on the African proverb, “If you educate a man, you educate a person, but if you educate a woman you build a good nation.”
What happens at the summer camp?
Each morning campers participate in a three-hour dialogue session, led by trained facilitators from Israel and Palestine, in which they learn to speak authentically and listen compassionately. Healing takes place as they share their personal stories with the “enemy.” The afternoon art program is led by professional art therapists and includes projects in all visual art disciplines that promote self-expression, release of pain, and collaboration. In addition, participants take field trips and spend many hours of social time together. They live in one house, where they are assigned bedrooms with young women from the other side. The camp experience shatters the stereotypes they have been taught and builds the foundation for leading in partnership with the “other side.”
What is the Young Leader program?
When camp graduates return home they are expected to participate as Young Leaders. This program provides in-depth training and mentoring that will result in action for peace. Young Leaders facilitate groups, organize projects, serve as spokeswomen for Creativity for Peace, and work as junior counselors at camp.
What other programs take place in Palestine and Israel?
At least two gatherings are held only for those who attend camp that year in order to provide emotional support and solidify friendships and attitudinal changes. Home groups, organized by Young Leaders, allow young women to speak in their own language and help each other in the struggles particular to their group. We also develop programs to connect our young women with young American women and teach leadership and peacemaking skills.
How are the campers selected?
Candidates must complete a written application, provide references, and be personally interviewed by our staff in Israel and Palestine. English-language proficiency is required. We accept young women from diverse religious, educational, and socioeconomic backgrounds with a wide variety of personalities and strengths.
Have you considered including young men?
There are a number of reconciliation programs for young men based in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and the Middle East. We have made a decision to focus on women, whom we believe have a unique capacity to achieve peace.
Where does your funding come from?
Our organization is funded by individuals and private foundations throughout the United States, Israel, and Palestine, as well as by a 2015 grant from the United States Agency for International Development. Our annual budget is $725,000.
What are the families required to pay?
The costs for each camper are approximately $6,000. Families are asked to pay $800 plus a modest fee for two years of follow-up training; a few full scholarships are awarded. In Palestine/Israel, each young woman pays a modest amount to attend gatherings and trainings.