Read about all the different ways people participate in Face to Face by downloading the Face to Face newsletter, PeaceTalks.
► Click here to download the Spring 2010 issue
► Click here to download the Fall 2009 issue
Meet some more teens who have been transformed by Face to Face/Faith to Faith:
Annelie, from Northern Ireland, Protestant, Participant 2006
I had the summer of 2006 all planned out. I was going to take my driving test and enter the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Awards (a community volunteer and skills building program for youth). But life in all its unexpectedness intervened. Truthfully, I arrived in Holmes, NY, knowing very little about Face to Face. I had traveled with 12 other participants from Northern Ireland and two leaders-in-training (LITs), who claimed that Face to Face was the best experience of their lives.
When the two-week intensive began, I started to grasp the concept behind the program. Part of me was thinking, "What have I gotten myself into? We're not world leaders or adults." But Face to Face made me realize that your voice is never too small and you're never too young to care about what's happening around you. Perhaps the greatest impact Face to Face had in my life is helping me recognize that I am an example to those around me through my thoughts, opinions, and actions. I have come to value the differences in race and religion and though they can be a source of conflict, I find it so satisfying to hear and learn about others' experiences, traditions, and beliefs. Face to Face has opened up the most inquisitive part of me; instead of trying to prove someone wrong or right I now prefer to hear why they have certain opinions, even if I don't understand them. Face to Face didn't only change my attitudes, beliefs, listening skills or prejudices...it changed ME.
Elad from the Middle East, Jewish, Participant 2006, Leader-in-Training 2007
Elad credits Face to Face with helping him learn to speak more intentionally. "I [try] not to make political remarks before thinking about the actual people on the other side. I no longer generalize and, most importantly, I truly listen to what people have to say. I no longer enter a discussion as if I am entering a competition." But Elad cited a more profound change that spurs him to reach out to his family, schoolmates and community with the message of peace and possibility that he discovered through Face to Face. "The program helped me to overcome [the] cynicism that was so deep inside of me and was such a dominant part of my personality. I imagine my future now in a different way than before this program."
Emile from South Africa, Christian, Participant 2003, Leader-in-Training 2004, Staff 2006-2008
Emile believes that in the aftermath of apartheid, young people in South Africa are "caught in a process of national transformation," focused on "trying to correct socio-economic inequality." The country remains divided, since the lines of economic difference have typically been defined by race. Emile grew up in contrasting environments, attending an all-white high school and living in a working class colored community. This made him aware of the challenges of creating a level playing field for South African youth. "I have seen integration and diversity [appear] to be very superficial at the university I attend." Emile believes he has an important role to play in creating true diversity, "where difference is our strength . . . . Face to Face has shaped my leadership style and my desire to pursue work that will make a real difference in fighting societal imbalance."
Audrey from the United States, Christian, Participant 2007, Leader-in-Training 2008
"Writing has always been my passion. From song lyrics to articles for my school newspaper, I am always stringing words together to express ideas and explore truth. Before taking part in Face to Face, I was unsure about how I would apply my writing talent to future endeavors, but my two years in the program gave me inspiration. I plan to attend university next year to study journalism and international studies so I can work as a journalist traveling to areas of conflict and injustice. I hope to spread awareness and work for change in the parts of the world that need dedicated servants. If I have learned anything from Face to Face, it is that every human being has a story to share. Face to Face has given me the drive to find ways to tell those stories with the words I love."
Jodi from the United States, Christian, Participant 2007, Leader-in-Training 2008
"One of the most important things I learned at Face to Face is to listen to all sides of a story before forming an opinion on any issue. Very recently, when the fighting in Gaza erupted, I found that I paid attention to many opinions, from the explanations of Israelis and Palestinians, to the American outlook. It was enlightening to hear other people's views on what was happening. Without Face to Face, I would most likely have made assumptions right off the bat. My experiences at Face to Face also inspired me to change the way I look at art. Sometimes I see a piece of artwork and ponder what it would mean to a South African or a Northern Irish person. I plan to study graphic design and illustration and want to use my work to illustrate how people on the other side of the world may feel. So many people carry biased thoughts and unconscious prejudices; hopefully my works of art will one day open their eyes."