The first time YOCOPAS came to life a year ago, we were just dreamers. YOCOPAS 2015, quickly organized and set up in a month, paved the path to a new platform for youth to achieve the impossible.

But let’s clear up some ideas. YOCOPAS is the “Youth Organized Collaboration on Peace and Sustainability” and, as such, aims to bring together high-school students in order to foster and accelerate a sustainable transition to peace in the conflicted areas of the Middle East. Now that the 2016 Conference has come to an end, we aim to grow and develop in order to amplify the effect of the mission, which is “to enhance peace and sustainability in the Middle East through networking of students and educators as an incubator for change”. It is not easy to achieve; some even argue that it is not realistic. Yet we meet, we talk, and we cooperate in the hopes of leaving a legacy of reconciliation in a region that has been torn by conflict for more than five decades. With the objective of being the accelerator for change, we wish to enrich its participants with new skills and fresh perspectives on different matters and fields. Focusing on workshops and inspirational speakers, YOCOPAS 2016 gathered student from Gaza, Jordan, the West Bank, and Israel to film, photograph, and cook together, as well as to discuss water issues, psychology, and renewable energies.

As written above, however, our mission is not easy to achieve and this is the reason why our students are already working towards the next meeting of the eleven educational institutions that met, a few weeks ago, in the Hakfar Hayarok. We might be young, dreamers, unrealistic and maybe a bit too optimistic, but we stick by the idea of “Why not? Why not now?”

With the optimism that you will join us the next time,

The young and hopeful.


Written by: Caterina Barbi
Edited by: Keren Sneh & Shy Zvouloun
Copy edited: Keren Sneh

 

Photo credits to Shy Zvouloun

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