America is a story about a fresh start, a new beginning, the New World as opposed to the Old World. Washington DC itself is engraved with the monuments and the history of the founders who built it to unite a young nation, riven by class, provincialism and race. Some of the most significant events that have helped to heal those divisions happened and keep happening here in Washington. It contains those near mythical stories that unite a nation and capture the attention of the world.
NSL seeks to immerse students from Palestine and Israel into this charged space where the quintessential stories of America are most powerfully conveyed and celebrated. The curriculum introduces them to some of the signature stories of American leadership, including case studies of post-conflict leaders exemplified by Abraham Lincoln, President and Mrs Roosevelt, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jnr.
Experts and participants in this history are invited to make these stories come alive for the team. The program also turns Washington’s monuments and summer holidays like July 4th into teaching moments. The course will also expose its students to Washington’s diversity so that they can see what our “E Pluribus Unum” actually looks like.
The novelty of this total Washington experience also forces students out of their comfort zone because everything is new. A team of total strangers come 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 together. They have to work together to get through it. Slowly, the intern achieves a gradual re-orientation by learning new habits of self-reflection, keeping a learning journal, engaging in debates, bonding with their new American family, learning at their job, testing their emerging vision among their peers.
From all the opportunities generated inside this once-in-a-lifetime experience, a new story starts to emerge. What it heralds is the good news that young Palestinians and Israelis can unite around this future they are creating right here, right now, in a way they could not if they were still back at home.