Day 1: The first day of YOCOPAS was full of bonding activities within the family groups. We had the chance to connect to other students from other countries by personal introduction as well as some interesting and funny activities. Then, we moved to the Cardo area for the Bkind workshop. A representative from the organisation introduced to us the concept of Bkind, a brand new website for noting your own kindness. This activity was really meaningful because it encourages everybody to give more kindness to our society, and then pass the Bkind card as a “kindness mission” to other people.
After the workshop, finally we had the opening ceremony. We had inspired speeches from different guest speakers and also enjoyed the musical performance by Intervoices and the traditional Spanish dance. The opening ceremony was finished with such a strong and emotional feelings, believing in the next amazing three days of YOCOPAS. After that, we had an awesome dinner with different kinds of food, including salmon, pizza and a lot of desserts. Following up was a new event created by the yocopas team, YOCO Talks, where interesting people come and share their stories. by three inspiring guest speakers, telling us the stories of their projects, which linked to the purpose of peace and sustainability in the Middle East. Then, we had an exciting activity with other friends, which was the Borders Night Hunt. We had the mission to go to different destinations in Hakfar and do the required mission. By going around together and doing the missions, all of the participants enjoyed the time being around, getting some fresh air and talking to other people. We ended with the family activity by reflecting on what we had done during the whole day and sharing with each other the experiences we got. Everybody was a little tired and went to sleep, holding excitement for Day 2.
Day 2: After waking up really early for breakfast, we had the warm up activity, led by our family groups. It was such a good start to the day, and then, we went to the auditorium for the panel. We had three guest speakers for the panel with the topic of “What we can learn from other world conflicts?”, and specifically, we learned to look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts in different aspects, especially diplomacy in the conflicts. After the traditional panel, we head back to the main campus for the “Borders and Personal Identity” activity. Here, all people could have the time to look closer at the surrounding environment and our mission was to take a picture that somehow related to the pictures that each of us had submitted before.
Lunch was our short break before the main two workshops occurred. Different students had chosen different workshops that fit their personal interests, and the whole afternoon was for the workshops led by a variety of guest speakers in many fields. In the evening, like every Friday, we had Shabbat dinner. Everyone looked amazing in white shirts, and for foreign students, it must be such an interesting experience learning about Jewish traditions and culinary habits. Before having the disco party in the main grass, a short Israeli-Palestinian conflict compound was held in classes, which gave all of us the opportunity to gain access to the conflicts in many ways. Day 2 ended with a hot disco party and we all had so much fun.
Day 3: On the third day of the YOCOPAS conference, participants had an amazing opportunity to plan out and initiate their own projects. Firstly, they all joined a workshop delivered by Haya Amzaleg Bahr – an organizational advisor. Through a total of 4 sessions, participants were guided through the process from defining needs and constructing goals to breaking out the means and evaluating if their projects were practical or not. This is utterly beneficial because it would help them not only with the projects they planned, but also in the long run for their future goals. Once they considerably drew out the overall plans for their projects, they presented and defended the projects so as to get as many votes as possible. The presentation did demonstrate that they clearly understood what their goals were and their enthusiasm towards what they were trying to devote to a better society. As the conference was approaching the end, participants went back to their family groups and had thoughtful reflection over the last three intensive, yet memorable days, before heading to the Closing Ceremony. During the Closing Ceremony, winning projects were announced: “Running for equality”, “Teddybears crossing borders” and “Together for you”. They will all be provided 750 dollars seed money to actually start the projects! This is a big movement as it embraces the tangible merits of YOCOPAS by taking projects into real life, beyond merely theoretically talking and discussing.
Now that the Third Annual YOCOPAS Conference has come to an end, the organizing committee all hope that YOCOPAS has played a significant role in shaping the mindsets of its participants towards the theme “Border” with a practical and meaningful insight. We are all looking forward to YOCOPAS 2018 Conference!
By Nguyen Luu and Dung Trinh