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Women leading Middle Eastern peace

Date: 2/1/2010

Since its inception in 2003, Creativity for Peace (a New Mexico nonprofit organization with operations in Israel and the Palestinian Territories) has brought 146 girls, ages 15-17, of Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths from Israel and Palestine to New Mexico for a summer program of peacemaking using facilitated dialogue, artmaking, field trips, and social time. The girls return home and continue to meet year-round and take part in leadership and communication training offered by Creativity for Peace in the Middle East.

Participants in the Creativity for Peace: Amira Said (22), May Freed (21), and Fairooz Abadi (21) will visit Alvernia to discuss their experiences at Creativity for Peace’s summer camp—the transformations they have undergone, their ongoing struggles and passion for peace-building in the Middle East, and their dreams for a future of peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians.

May Freed is Jewish and from Kahal, Israel. She is currently working with adults with brain injury as part of her year of national service. Amira Said is Palestinian from the West Bank city of Jenin and a recent graduate in biology and biotechnology from the Arab American University in Jenin. Fairooz Abadi is a Palestinian from Kfar Kara, Israel and a second year dental student at the University of Jerusalem.

All three women attended Creativity for Peace’s summer camp in 2005 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. For more than four years they have been active in the organization’s young leader training program, designed to nurture the next generation of leaders and peacemakers.

Creativity for Peace’s mission is to nurture understanding and leadership in Palestinian and Israeli adolescent girls and women so they can aspire to and take on significant roles in their families, communities and countries that advance peaceful coexistence. Programs include a three-week summer camp; ongoing gatherings for 146 former campers in the Middle East; advanced communication and leadership training for 30 young leaders; and academic scholarships.

Co-sponsored by Alvernia’s Holleran Center for Community Engagement, the Jewish Federation of Reading, the Islamic Center of Reading, and the Reading Berks Conference of Churches, this event is open to the public, and will be held in the Bernardine Lecture Hall on main campus. A public reception will follow the event.

  • History: Established as a private four-year liberal arts college in 1958, Alvernia celebrated its 50th year by being awarded university status in 2008.
  • Heritage: Founded by the Bernardine Sisters, a Catholic religious order, the university embraces the Franciscan core values of service, humility, collegiality, contemplation and peacemaking.
  • Motto: “To Learn, To Love, To Serve”
  • Campus: The main campus in Reading is 121 acres, with two satellite campuses in Philadelphia and Pottsville (Schuylkill County).
  • Location: Our residential campus is situated three miles from center-city Reading, in the scenic Blue Mountain area of Eastern Pennsylvania.
  • Enrollment: 3,000 students attend Alvernia including 1,500 traditional undergraduates, 600 continuing education students, and 780 graduate students. Over 77% of first-year students live on campus.
  • Faculty: Our professors are accomplished scholars, experts in their fields, and supportive mentors. The student-to-faculty ratio is 14:1. Most classes are 20 students or fewer.
  • Athletics: NCAA Division III, member of the Commonwealth Conference of the Middle Atlantic States Athletic Corporation and member of Eastern College Athletic Conference, 8 men’s and 10 women’s intercollegiate sports.