Combining Literature and Education to Create Peace

How do literature and education combine to create peace?

The Educate for Change program at New College of Florida believes they have part of the answer to peace in the Middle East by providing up to 10 full four-year scholarships for Palestinian, Israeli, Egyptian, Syrian, Lebanese and/or Jordanian women.

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I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity by Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, published by Walker & Company, New York

This scholarship program grew out of Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish initiative, Daughters for Life Foundation, and his book I Shall Not Hate: a Gaza Doctor’s Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity. 

Dr. Abuelaish was a well-loved, well-known practising medical doctor in both Gaza and Israel when he endured a series of personal tragedies. He lost his wife to cancer and four months later he lost three of his daughters and one niece to 22 days of shelling in the Gaza War. His personal distress and overwhelming suffering was played out on international television.

Although Dr. Abuelaish’s grief was unbearable, he was determined not to succumb to anger and hatred.  Instead Abuelaish wrote the book, I Shall Not Hate as a testament to the need for peace. He set up the Daughters for Life Foundation as a legacy to his daughters and to engender peace in the Middle East. Abuelaish believes that educating Middle Eastern women is vital to establishing peace in the region.

zeeBigBang spoke with Shannon Duvall, Vice President of Advancement and Executive Director of New College of Florida Foundation, to find out how Abuelaish’s book and the Daughters for Life Foundation scholarships can create the impetus for peace. “I recognize the transformative nature and huge impact an excellent education can have. These women [scholarship recipients] will benefit from the education, but so will many others.”

Dr. Abuelaish’s premise is simple – you can change attitudes through education. His book acts as a guide to remove hate from amongst and between genders and cultures and replace it with an attitude of love and peace.  He says that the answer to peace in the Middle East may lie in everyday people and not in the bargaining of politicians.

For a successful transformation to peace, “everyday people” must include women as educated equals who can contribute to the solution for peace.

Dr. Abuelaish has seen that all men and women are considered equal within the borders of a hospital. He wonders why it is not the same outside of the hospital. He believes that women are already empowered – they are just not enabled.  To be enabled, he says they need to be educated.  He says that equality for men and women is imperative and that love instead of hate amongst people in the Middle East is possible through education. Dr. Abuelaish has been nominated three years in a row for The Nobel Peace Prize and was nominated for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. 

 TEDxWaterloo – Izzeldin Abuelaish – Refusing to Hate

Duvall says community members from all walks of life, different religions, and different political views are embracing the initiative. ”What resonates is the power of change through education and helping others less fortunate than ourselves. We are all expanding our own personal horizons as we help these women to expand their horizons,” Duvall says.

Also on the Steering Committee for Educate for Change at New College of Florida are: College President, Dr. Donal O’Shea, Judge Charles Williams, philanthropist, Dan Boxser and head of fundraising, Susan Jacobson. “People can become involved in the Educate for Change, Daughters for Life Scholarship initiative by donating time, money, expertise, and/or by simply sharing this story,” says Duvall.

Click here for more information on the Daughters for Life education program.

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