Ramadan Kareem!

Ramadan Karim

Wishing all our friends and supporters who are observing the Islamic holy month of Ramadan a blessed, fruitful and spiritually enlightening Ramadan.

Ramadan Kareem!

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4th Annual Bhineka Camp & Encompass Awards 2016

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It’s all happening over the pond at Encompass Indonesia…

Encompass Indonesia have continued their amazing work towards peace and understanding! Their fourth Bhineka (peace) Camp took place at Petungsewu Wildllife Education Center in Malang, between 8th and 15th May 2016. The programme saw 15 males and 9 females coming together to develop dialogue on issues surrounding identity, stereotypes and conflict; overcoming challenges, and working together withothers to promote multi-cultural understanding and tolerance in Indonesia. Two facilitators, a programme coordinator and many other volunteers made sure that the programme went off well. Participants came from several provinces in Indonesia including North Sumatra, West Borneo, West Papua and East Java.

Enthusiasm from participants was high, and many reported that the programme opened their minds to ideas around tolerance, empathy, team work, solidarity and equality.

The Encompass Indonesia ‘Award’ was also recently given to five outstanding people who have supported Encompass Indonesia and helped enable all their good work this year. Winners were chosen by the Encompass Indonesia team and included an artist, an academic, and a number of cultural experts who have provided valuable input.

Meanwhile, the ‘House of Understanding’, Encompass Indonesia’s multi-faith hub and meeting centre for community cohesion, carries on gathering momentum.

Beyond the JoU – Encompass retold…

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The Journey of Understanding really is an introspective journey that leaves participants with a better and more rounded view of not only themselves, but too those around them. One of the things we feel is really important for our participants to take home is the skills and learning they themselves undertake whilst on the JoU and it is truly warming when these skills are put back into use by participants themselves in their very own communities and surroundings. As has been exactly the case, time and time again in Palestine, where previous participants recreate mini-workshops for young people in Tulkarem and beyond. This series of workshops were titled, ‘Creating the Story of Your Life’.

Diala(JoU, Feb 2016) began the workshop by giving identity pertinent questions to the group with the ‘Speed Dating’ activity.This got them thinking about both personal and community identity. After the activity she debriefed them, and handed the group over to Hend(JoU, Nov 2012), to learn story telling skills. Then Tamera(JoU, Feb 2015) and Khaled (JoU hopeful and our resident artist) instructed the group on making identity posters, to be included in a further project the group are running.

Take a look at the slideshow of pictures from recent workshops run by these amazing, inspirational and very creative young people and watch this space for more exciting projects all the way from Palestine!

At Encompass we are striving to work hard to empower young people to not only be, but too make the positive change they hope to see in society. Our work would not be possible without the generous donations of our supporters. Please help us to continue our work to make this world a more cohesive and peaceful place to be, by donating today.

A life changing experience…

IMG_1860.JPGEncompass has changed my life.

Encompass is a cross-cultural communication week long emersion  with people from the US, UK, Indonesia, Israel and Palestine in Snowdonia, Wales.  Throughout the week we were able to discover ourselves and uncover the boundaries that hold us back.  We engaged in discussions relating to self identity, nationality, ethnicity, culture, gender, privilege and how to bring back what we learn to the community.  These discussions led to deeper conversations about meanings and experiences of life.

I learned a lot about myself throughout this experience.  In the discussions I was able to talk about what was important to me and my own identity and what I believe in.  We created a safe zone where anyone was free to discuss their opinions.  Within myself, I was able to learn about what traits make up who I am and what parts of society I identify with.  It was a way to open up and realize what makes me different than everyone else.

I also gained a new perspective of the world.  I was able to meet people from five different countries with different experiences regarding culture and religion.  It was an eye-opening experience to listen to personal stories of the hardships that others go through.  Everyone in the program was different yet we all had the same goal which is to make the world a better place.

All of us became very close and I consider them some of my good friends.  I met so many good people that have high hopes and dreams to change the world.  We bonded over everything whether it was inside jokes or just things people did.  One of the most unforgettable things about this program was the people.   We did not have any wifi or service which contributed to our deep connections.  We were able to fully immerse ourselves in what we were doing without the distractions of the outside world.  I was at peace in Wales.

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We also participated in team-building outdoor activities in Snowdonia, Wales.  I have never been to Wales before and was excited to be able to spend the week in the mountains.  Throughout the week I repelled down a mountain, gorging, canoeing and hiked Snowden, the tallest mountain in Snowdonia.  I was able to bond with all my new friends while embracing the beauty of this world.

022616_Encompass_DSC0810This blog post does not do enough justice to what Encompass has done for me.  I do not think I’ll ever be able to fully explain it.  It’s just something that has forever made an impact on me and I am so thankful for getting the opportunity to participate in Encompass: The Journey of Understanding.

Tiffany, USA, JoU February 2016

At Encompass we are striving to work hard to empower young people to not only be, but too make the positive change they hope to see in society. Our work would not be possible without the generous donations of our supporters. Please help us to continue our work to make this world a more cohesive and peaceful place to be, by donating today.

Minding the gap

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I would like to express my condolences to the family of Daniel Braden who was killed in the Bali attacks in 2002. Without you, I would not have been able to partake in the Journey of Understanding, and your devotion to promoting peace has directly addressed the roots of cultural and national conflict.

I am still in awe from this experience. I never want to forget the tribulations, courage, joy, sadness, and hope which incurred during our nine days together. Some of my own personal despairs have been uplifted. I am proud to have met people from different walks of life, people who dispelled common cultural and national stereotypes largely informed by the media, peers and family.

Our theme this year was ‘Challenge to Change,’ and we addressed many issues that need changing, including stereotypes, racial profiling, media propaganda and self-importance.  In respect to the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, it was painful to hear experiences painted through friends and family; specific experiences pointing out the violence, sense of insecurity, and degradation experienced by citizens. Both sides were somewhat restricted in some of their views of the other side; feelings closely referred to resentment, anger, injustice, humiliation and appropriation. Fear was a common denominator, albeit from different notions. It was comforting to see that by the end of the week, we all managed an appreciation of each perspective, contrary to that narrated by media. Collectively, we found something that brought us together as one human race; a human race regardless of colour, ethnicity, social demographic and religion.

I would like to thank the participants from Palestine and Israel who spoke about life in their respective countries. The stories about people being bombed, or having missiles thrown at them within an inch of their lives, to the degradation and humiliation experienced by some at check points, to the countless number of friends and family lost to a war which began generations before their own, are all narratives of a life I have grown up sheltered away from. It was with humility that I was able to understand the term ‘power and privilege’ in a global context. It is my dream that every citizen of every nation will one day be able to enjoy freedoms and social progress in equal measure.

It was refreshing to be with people who all shared their different viewpoints on various subject matters. Personally, the most fundamental lesson was about ‘minding the gap’ rather than forcing one’s opinion onto others. It was the integrity, honour and maturity of words spoken that founded a silent unity amongst us all. A unity that respected cultural, religious and personal values.

I am honoured to have met people from different faiths, ethnic backgrounds and cultures of life. On a personal and intimate note, I have been able to reflect consciously and alter my way of thinking. I am confident. Confident that I am beautiful, intelligent and loved. Confident that I have made lasting friendships. Confident that as we part physically in life, we will always be unified in some form of manner. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all of you who made this experience for us all.

With love,

Ratidzo, UK, JoU February 2016

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The best of times…

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When given the opportunity to go to Snowdonia, Wales for a week I was a bit apprehensive to apply at first. I knew I would be missing the school trip to Edinburgh and to Paris and was worried I may not get as much value from my time stuck in the mountains with no cellular reception in Wales. I applied at the last minute anyway and I was accepted to go on the “Journey of Understanding” through Encompass Trust. I went to the weekly meetings and I still wasn’t sure if this was a trip that would be worth me missing school and “adventures abroad.” However, I was wrong, very, very wrong and that is perfectly how it should be. I learned more on Encompass about myself, my new friends and the world around me than I could ever learn in a classroom.Feb 16 jou

The “Journey of Understanding” is a week long trip to Snowdonia for young people from the U.S., the U.K., Palestine, Israel and Indonesia. It was started after the Bali Bombings in 2003 which killed Daniel Braden and his British teammates. As one of the three “American” students, I felt out of place at first because the closest I had come to an act of terror in my lifetime was 9/11 when I was in the first grade and hundreds of miles away from the actual attack. I was in a room full of people who have experienced the cruelties the world can have first-hand by living in war-stricken nations, becoming a refugee and seeing terrorist attacks much closer to home.

Each day, we spent time as a large group doing activities, in small groups enjoying the mountains and what they had to offer and individually getting to know new people. I thought that gorge walking, absailing, walking through mines and jumping off cliffs would be the most challenging parts of the week, but in actuality they were the moments when I could relax the most. The conversations had in our large group forced me to face much larger issues like prejudices, misunderstandings, religious differences and much more.

Jourdann and friends again 2

We went through our week by doing activities to teach others about our culture, to learn about our own identities and to see if we could begin to discuss global issues such as the conflicts in Israel and Palestine. While I do not feel like and expert on other people’s culture or global problems, I do feel like I am more knowledgable about these subjects and I want to learn more. The people I was surrounded by were inspiring from their stories that they told and the challenges they overcame throughout the week whether they were mental or physical.

Through these conversations, I was able to discover why Syracuse students were asked to go on the trip and that was because of the Pan Am 103 bombing. As Syracuse Students, we share a history with terrorism and even more so with the students killed also being students returning from studying abroad in London. While I heard the stories of my peers, I found a sense of hope that if a university struck by tragedy can move forward and inspire their students to do good things, programs like Encompass can do exactly the same thing.

I grew close to every person on the trip because we all had one thing in common and that is that we listened. We live in a world where everyone is constantly talking and tweeting their feelings, but no one takes time to listen to other people. As a pro-chatter, I know I often speak over people, but I learned so much more by actively listening. (Not having cellular service for a week also helped). I encourage people to listen to what people have to say because it could mold you into a better person and inspire you.

On the last day we were asked to write our feelings about the program in an evaluation and I said, “The Encompass Program opened my eyes to the world, my heart to my identity and my mind to change. I learned that just by ignoring the news, the world does not stop hurting. I know more about myself and my own needs than before. I have began thinking about how I can help my community and the world piece by piece. Ironically, by spending time with many international students, I learned pride for being an American and respect for what I am lucky to have. I was hesitant to come to Encompass and miss my school trips, but I would not trade this experience for the world. The values I have gained as well as the friendships I have made fill my heart and will provide wonderful memories.” Jourdann and more friends

 

Jourdann, USA, JoU February 2016

 

A different cup – a special brew!

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‘Diversitea’ is a monthly social event in which young people meet new people and engage in dialogue on topical and pertinent contemporary issues over a cup of tea. Last month we held our first ‘Diversitea’ in partnership with Aik Saath’s Empowered. It was phenomenal event with over forty young people in attendance.The theme for the inaugural event was ‘Refugee-hood’ and the event begun with a very warm Encompass welcome and a presentation by Slough Refugee Support for whom the event raised £50.

As people came in to the event they were given a quiz, which aimed to dispel negative stereotypes of refugees and highlighted the contributions refugees have made to the UK. The event attracted a host of talented spoken word performers and rappers from London, Slough and surrounding areas. Performances were complimented with a quiz my co-host Declan and I ran throughout the evening; ensuring the event was more than just the sharing of poetry but also the sharing of knowledge. The event was serine and the array of delectable Ahmad teas complimented the calm atmosphere.

If you like what you are reading and have some creative words to share on next months theme of, ‘Heroes’, come along to our second Diversitea on Saturday 2nd April at 3pm at the the YES Shop, 61, Queensmere Shopping Centre,  High Street, Slough.

Remember to bring your own mug and share with us some tea, coffee, poetry and a lots of inspiration!

 

Meeting MYSELF

I have always had this thought, just like most people do, that I know myself really well. I was mistakenly considering myself to be my own best friend. If I was to choose of my life-partner, I would have always considered the feature of sharing the same opinions as the most important criterion for that choice. However, all this was remodified after the programme i.e., I am happy to have friends who share different opinions.

My life here in UK is divided to pre-Encompass and post-Encompass experience. I can never deny the new changes that have happened to me since I moved from Palestine to England in September 2015. Still, the experience I had from joining the Journey of Understanding are richer. I had the chance to meet people from different backgrounds, religions, believes, countries, nationalities, and ideologies; people of various complexions, interests, hobbies, virtues and life priorities. I was privileged in having the greater chance to meet ME.

It was such a very intense programme, yet I enjoyed every single moment there with everybody. I discovered a new me, new things to love and came to well-know my challenge capacity. I am proud to say that I won in my all challenges to myself and that’s almost the best part of it. Coming to know that I was underestimating my skills, abilities and spirits was an achievement itself; I was just trying to fit myself within some hypothetical borders I created myself.

This programme came to break borders to release my soul. I have achieved a lot on all levels. Personally, I feel more encouraged and active after attending the programme, I feel younger in spirit; I didn’t stop smiling nor did I cease to be positive. I was taught to think positively in the programme. This had a collective effect; I became a better member within teams, I am now more caring for others, more understanding, more loving and more kind-mothering (I liked it how some participants chose this ‘mothering’ for me even if it started just like a joke).

I believe I can say so much more about my trip with Encompass Trust and I will never feel bored or fed up with talking about it. I am very grateful for everybody who was there and paved the path for this. Thanks to our coordinator, Karen and the facilitators, Lucy, Helen, Sahdia, and Aisha. Thanks to all the participants, my family and to the Plas Gwynant instructors and staff. Finally, a big thank to ME for being able to cope with the dull, normal life again after leaving the fruitful programme with a mind full of memories.

Sharaf, Palestine, JoU February 2016

An unforgettable experience…

Being part of Encompass Trust is something so great for me. I had the best experience ever till now. I got to meet new people, make new friends and had great time while learning a lot about others in the world, how to make myself a better person in the future and how to understand the human being more. I will never forget this experience and really hope to have it one more time in the future. I never thought I would meet people from other parts of the world, from other countries and origins, but I did and it was so pleasant and unforgettable.

One of my best moments was when I had the conversation about the conflict, not just the Palestinian- Israeli conflict, but ‘conflict’ in its full meaning. The idea of putting myself in another persons shoes had taught me a lot. Good people are still here in the world and I had the best chance to meet them in Encompass.

Thanks to everyone who did so much for us. Thanks to Helen for being the greatest facilitator for all of us and thanks to Karen for giving me this chance.‎

Diala, Palestine, JoU February 2016

Being the Change…

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Wow! Another Journey of Understanding complete and what a journey it has been! So many inspirational young people from across the globe with such varied and wonderful stories and life experiences to share. It really has been a genuinely rich an vibrant programme and we hope this zeal and enthusiasm continue far, far beyond this last week in SUNNY Wales.

Challenge to Change

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In relation to post-programme work, participants took a new thematic approach to their long-term vision for life as a Young Leader Encompass and after much deliberation and a lengthy democratic process, they came to the theme title, ‘Challenge to Change’. This theme was born from the idea that participants would first challenge themselves, overcoming their personal hurdles and thereon making a positive change and contribution to their respective communities and the world at large.

Personal Challenges

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Some of the personal challenges that participants have highlighted in their own words are as follows;

  • “Not to believe everything, but to research to make more informed opinions.”
  • “Work on improving relationships with people of different backgrounds to gain an understanding of their views.”
  • “Embrace my culture and ethnicity to learn about my personal history.”
  • “Work on being more patient in certain situations.”
  • “Be more informed about happenings around the world.”
  • “Challenge media perceptions with more informed, first hand accounts of global events.”
  • “Develop an appreciation for the wider world”
  • “Be more open-minded.”
  • “Learn the Arabic language.”
  • “Develop my critical thinking.”

Changes

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Further to and beyond the personal challenges, participates planned some excellent projects to further the work and ethos of Encompass and all that they leant on their Journey. Here are some of their ideas;

  • “Work with the Syracuse Women’s Leadership Initiative to get more interfaith speakers on campus.”
  • “Deliver workshops/ sessions around conflict resolution in schools.”
  • “Work with refugees in Syracuse to make transition better.”
  • “Actively work to connect university students with the city.”
  • “Create interfaith events and interactions.”
  • “Conduct a social experiment – Filmed Q&A in my local city centre.”
  • “Volunteer in a multicultural school.”
  • “Community cohesion football tournament.”
  • “Homeless tea and lunch drop-ins.”

At Encompass we are striving to work hard to empower young people to not only be, but too make the positive change they hope to see in society. Our work would not be possible without the generous donations of our supporters. Please help us to continue our work to make this world a more cohesive and peaceful place to be, by donating today.

#challengetochange