NSL seeks to broaden the scope of its young participants’ sense of possibility by initiating them into seven new sets of experiences and stories. Together, these constitute the key elements of the program:
- Service through Project for Change (PFC) : A student will research, design and plan a project for change before he or she comes to Washington DC, and use their time in America to gain the mentors and the range of skills and resources to enable them to return and implement the plan. Thus they are initiated into the larger human story of need and service, a story larger than self-interest. Plus they step out of the Victim role into the role of change agent.
- Work Exposure: Students will obtain experience working in significant organizations in Washington, DC, including the US Congress, to initiate them into the professional world of work at a high entry level. Here they will also gain valuable mentors to help shape their Project for Change.
- Cultural immersion: By staying in pairs, one Palestinian with an Israeli, in the same host family and being mentored by local college students, NSL students will obtain a direct and personal experience of American life.
- An Intense Story Based Curriculum: including listening and Non Violent Communication skills, the art and craft of storytelling, speech writing and presentation skills, and a visit to NYC and the UN. The curriculum also uses case studies of exemplary American leaders in times of social and national crisis (i.e. Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King, Jr.)
- Public speaking: NSL will provide a number of opportunities so participants find their voice and tell their own leadership story, culminating in a leadership moment of five minutes during which each participant makes a formal presentation to an important Washington audience at SAIS, before Members of Congress, before diverse Faith Communities, and at various Embassies.
- Intense team training: Includes planning and delivering program seminars, workshops, conferences to initiate students into the story of how to create common ground and experience the power of collaborative action. Students learn a new set of listening, reflective, and dialog skills. They also learn to caucus around their PFCs and come to a consensus about which projects deserve the investment of the entire team.
- Active network of graduates: By having an established network of NSL Alumni, we seek to continue to engage participants in joint social entrepreneurial initiatives that grow out of their PFC work, to ensure their new story grows roots at home.
Marked by these seven new experiences, the participant grows a richer sense of self in an environment that encourages friendship, team learning, and exploration. They discover their identity need not be solely defined by the conflict. With every graduate, the program creates a living contradiction to the pessimism that limits the possibility for cooperation. When the headlines tell the younger generation, ‘It can never be done’, young Palestinian and Israelis who have experienced working, learning and serving together in NSL, can reply, ‘It can be done, because we are doing it’.