Every day we hear disturbing news from conflict regions. But what can we do about it? That’s a question often asked by the 15 entrepreneurial young peacemakers from places such as Israel, Palestine and Pakistan who were chosen to be the first ever GATHER Fellows.
GATHER, which focuses on supporting those taking practical action, is the brainchild of Seeds of Peace – a transformational initiative set up 25 years ago to develop the leadership potential of young Israelis and Arabs. GATHER chose London as the venue for its inaugural fellowship program. And asked Street Wisdom to kick it off!
Mohamed Rahmy, Director of Graduate Programs, explains what he had in mind: “GATHER Fellows come from completely different backgrounds; they speak different languages, and are working across different sectors on a variety of social change issues. I couldn’t have imagined a better exercise that would meet such a diverse group’s needs than Street Wisdom. Everyone of us, no matter what we do for a living, no matter how caught up we are in what our lives throw our way, deserve the mental space that Street Wisdom offers. It allows us to pause and reflect on the questions – big and small, practical and existential – that somehow get lost in the craziness of our day-to-day routine. Street Wisdom’s methodology is simple, accessible and easily applicable – practically anywhere around the world.”
We were honoured to be involved. And excited! It was inspiring to watch GATHER fellows heading out into the Autumn sunshine of Trafalgar Square in search of fresh answers to some world-sized questions. Some came back with fresh thinking about their projects. Others with insight into how they can sustain themselves as they seek to support others. One participant was stopped on her quest by someone trying to sell her a London bus tour. “I’ll talk to you,” she said, “provided at the end I can ask you a question”. “A question about me?”, asked the bus guy, taken off guard by the role reversal. “No, about me and my work in Ramallah” she replied. She didn’t buy the tour ticket but the conversation yielded fascinating insights from this wise stranger (”Stop talking about Israel, start talking about Palestinians!”).
Mohammed Rahmy reflects on the lasting effects of Street Wisdom on the participants: “It opened a new world of opportunities for self and professional betterment and revealed new places to seek advice, reassurance or even straight-on answers to some of life’s questions – a world of possibilities for our Fellows to ponder on over the coming weeks. I’m so happy we opened our GATHER Fellowship’s leadership accelerator with Street Wisdom and I am keen to always have it as a key ingredient in future programs. The impact of Street Wisdom is truly limitless.’’
The GATHER fellows are dispersing back to their regions. But they are taking Street Wisdom with them and several are planning to run their own with their teams and communities. It would be wonderful if they do. It would bring us a step closer to our goal of bringing inspiration to every street in the world. Now there’s a seed to plant!
With thanks to Street Wizards David Micklem and Scott Morrison for facilitating.