New Story Leadership is based upon a narrative method of change. This utilises a process that has been developed in the last fifteen years by the Centre for Narrative Studies. At the heart of this methodology is a change in focus. To find a new and better story for the Middle East, the following must happen.
- Change Who is Telling the Story: The story of the Middle East must no longer be told by politicians and so called experts but rather by young people i.e. those under the age of 30 whose minds are open and are willing to challenge what they have heard.
- Change Who is Hearing the Story: The young people of the Middle East must have their new stories of hope and understanding heard. The world has largely only heard of the old stories; stories that are dominated by blind hatred and suspicion. Hope and change is fostered when those in power hear that change is possible. NSL allows our students to tell their original story to people in power including members of the US Congress, the World Bank and non-governmental organisations. One member of our sister program even did a work placement with then Senator, Barack Obama. To have the ear of the President, is to tell your story directly to the most powerful man in the world.
- Change the Story’s Trajectory: In order for hope to grow, focus must be placed on the future rather than the past. There is still so much hurt, suspicion and grieving in the Middle East, but by emphasising the promise of tomorrow, long term peace and understanding can be realised.
- Change Where the Story is being Told: For a new story to develop, there must be communication between the respective partners. However this communication must be facilitated in a neutral and friendly place. Without the noise of the old story in the background and fused with a spirit of cooperative experience, NSL allows our students the opportunity to find their voice, tell their story and challenge their old preconceptions. To find these neutral conditions in the Middle East is much more difficult.
NSL as a Unique Program: No other program in the United States targets emerging Palestinian and Israeli leaders who, at the beginning of their careers, are hungry for inspiration and experience. No other program offers individuals from both sides of the conflict training to become an effective leadership team using the unique resources only Washington has to offer. No other Washington-based program working to promote peace in the region focuses on young adults (20+) rather than teenagers, academics or business leaders.
How to Nurture a New Story: Coming to Washington forces participants out of their comfort zone. Everything is new. A team of total strangers comes to America to work in new jobs in a new city, in a new country, sharing a new family with a new roommate, experiencing one unforgettable summer. They have to work together to get through it. Slowly, the participants adjust by learning new habits of self-reflection, keeping a public learning journal, engaging in debates, bonding with an American family, learning on the job, testing their emerging vision with their peers. From the opportunities generated inside this once-in-a-lifetime experience, a new story slowly emerges.
Cultural Immersion: The host family experience is an essential aspect of the NSL program, since interaction with a local family is critical to the participants’ real understanding of American life. When a young Israeli and a young Palestinian live for weeks under the same roof with the same host parents, a deep social bond is created that is rooted in the history and customs of that particular family. The experience sparks a shared story binding two otherwise unconnected young people into one local American tradition. The host family experience unfailingly proves to be one of the most enduring legacies of the NSL program, and serves as testimony to the fact that personal relationships matter more than most anything else.
Personal not Political: The NSL program is not political or partisan. It does not take any side in the Middle East conflict, other than being unambiguously on the side of the young people from the region. The program does not engage in lobbying activities of any kind, and it is not within its purposes to pursue any political agenda. Its distinct focus is on education in leadership and demonstrating the power of stories for personal and cultural transformation.