New Story Leadership for the Middle East
New Story Leadership for the Middle East (NSL) is an innovative leadership training program for young leaders from Israel and Palestine. What makes NSL unique is its story approach, where it analyses conflict as a story system that is dysfunctional and repetitive. NSL seeks to structure an intervention that helps to first of all create a new story of possibility. Next, NSL works to inspire a new generation of leaders with that new story. The model is new for the Middle East but not new when applied to other conflict zones of the world. The founders of NSL were able to develop their model in former work with "the children of the Troubles" in Northern Ireland, as they matured into young adulthood, (see www.wiprogram.org) and also applied the model to the young people emerging from post-apartheid South Africa. ( see www.sawip.org)
The elements of the program involve the following three steps- first finding the right candidates from Palestine and Israel, young people who are hungry for change and have proven themselves to be servant leaders. Second, NSL forms them into a team through an intense summer experience in Washington DC. Lastly, it graduates them into a chohort of active alumni who continue to work together.
The summer in DC involves 4 days a week work placements with professional institutions such as Congress or the World Bank, so the young leaders learn close-up the world of power and politics. They live together in specially selected host families in Washington to get an intense cultural immersion in American family life. One day a week, the participate in a narratively based program where they learn to find their own stories, learn to listen to the story of the "other," and as a joint project, coach and support each other as they tell their stories before important Washington audiences, such as members of Congres, at the French Embassy and at conferenes and meetings such as Johns Hopkins SAIS program. They also participate in Inter-Faith dialogs or seminars at Bus Boys and Poets. They also have a special New York CIty Weekend program that includes the UN, Wall Street, and Ground Zero.
The need that NSL seeks to address is the deplorable lack of participatioon by the region's younger leaders in the negotiations and conferences that take place here in the center of American and World power, Washington DC. One of NSL's key goals is to win a hearing for the young Israelis and Palestinians who, while on the program, prove they can work together and dream together, and deserve a seat at the table. It is hard to argue against the need for these voices of the future to be heard and heeded if a different and more peaceable future is to happen. NSL believes that for peace to grow over the long term, you have to make the wager of a generational investment. NSL is making that investment and already has twenty alumni from the first two years of running the program.