Paris, 29th April of 2016
Dear LEO and Lions friends,
Lion District D-128 organized their first Leo International Seminar in Beit Berl, Israel, from April 16th to 21st. The purpose was “A bridge to peace and brotherhood among nations”, shortly named “The Other”.
A small group of 16 people from 9 different countries all over Europe came to Israel, where local Leos reached us.
As everyone arrived at various hours, some of us had the luck to be greeted and hosted the first night by a Lion family. It was a perfect introduction to discover another culture based on sharing.
We had a wonderful program during 5 days, including sightseeing.
The opening of the seminar was at the International Institute of Leadership in the evening. We got to know our hopes and expectations for the seminar and discussed them with local Lions and Leos as part of this project such as Leo Israel representative Julian-Charben JURBAN.
On Sunday, we made a trip to Nazareth and met the Lions Israel District Governor Marwan ZEIBAK and all Lions for a celebration. They organized the designation of a square, and then we discovered Nazareth’s religious places with local Leos and our guide. This city tour brought solidarity and understanding among religions by showing us coexistence in the Galil area. We had a traditional lunch with pita, falafel and then sweet delicacies at the place where Leos of Nazareth meet. On the way back to Beit Berl, we passed by Haifa and had a look over the beautiful Bahai’s gardens and an astonishing panorama from the top of the hill. In the evening, Leos from Nazareth came to our accommodation to share a “get-together night”.
Monday was the official opening of the seminar. After greetings and a detailed overview on the program, we had a session on “Strengthening the ability to accept the other” by Lion Israel District Governor Marwan ZEIBAK and then a lecture about coexistence by the International Institute of Leadership, the place where we were hosted. We spend the afternoon at the Rabin center – Israeli museum. We learned about the history of Israel since 1922. We had to understand where they came from in order to know where they want to go and which goals they want to achieve. In the evening, weattended a cultural musical event.
Tuesday was another day of reflexion, with the Peres center for peace and some discussions around tolerance and patience. They explained us how they can use basic tools to create fascinating projects with youth from Israel and Palestine to encourage tolerance and sympathy between young kids from different cultures. After a short free time in order to recover, Ganit HODOROV gave us a really sensitive workshop based on leadership communication, with some emotional moments. In the evening, we had another traditional dinner with many different local specialities followed by a tour to old Jaffa and the Tel Aviv promenade.
Wednesday was our last whole day together. We took the road to Jerusalem and first visited the Magen David Adom center. This medical center provide daily help to citizens with a huge operating system: from 1.800 medical vehicles to smartphone applications to involve the population with 14.000 volunteers. All the equipment they use is financed with donations from all over the world. We continued our tour at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where we had a discussion on foreign policies, how hard it is to negotiate a peace solution everyone is happy with and hot local topics such as Israel’s borders with Palestine. Our guide brought us around the city and to the Knesset, which is the parliament of Israel. In front, there was the Knesset menorah, the symbol of Israel.
After a city trip with temperatures up to 35 degrees and a short lunch, we were all tired on the way back. It was time to sum-up all we learnt during those days, to conclude this seminar and receiving our certificate of attendance.
For most of us it was the first time in Israel and this seminar was a really good opportunity to visit this country getting a different perspective compared to normal tourists. This seminar has strengthened our Leo commitment and also brought us tips, advises and another way of thinking in order to create peace among cultures.
No country would be a better place to deal with this topic and I kindly recommend everyone who wants an alternative view of this country to attend the second seminar next year.