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Voices of the Village

Thursday 18 July 2013, by Glenn Chon

After reading Amia Leiblich’s new book, In Spite of it All, Tali Sonnenschein and Nadine Nashef, two motivated young adults from Wahat al Salam / Neve Shalom came together and began to develop a monthly community based social lecture program as a way to increase peaceful discourse and develop a close knit community. “We read the book about the village and realized we found interesting things we didn’t know about our neighbors,” Tali expressed. The book features interviews from first and second generation village members.

Both graduates of the Wahat al Salam / Neve Shalom Primary School and long time best friends, Nadine and Tali discussed their options and took it upon themselves to establish a once a month program that invites a village member to speak on her or his topic(s) of interest. “They can talk about anything they want, it could even be about aliens if that’s what they’re interested in, we just think it’s a great idea to get people talking more with each other,” explains Nadine.

The first guest lecturer was Hisham Abdulhalim, a second generation member of the village, who addressed his concerns about the small number of Arabs in the high-tech sector of Israel by creating a Facebook page. He provided Arabs in his field with career development training and job offers which was followed by a two day conference that was held at NSWAS. From his experience in the high-tech industry, he has found that there are about six to seven hundred Arabs out of the tens of thousands of high-tech employees; an unusually disproportionate number when compared to the ten thousand Arabs who graduated in his field in the last decade.

Hisham also discussed a new project he is currently working on. He hopes to provide high school students from the Negev with scholarships based on their end of the year projects. He plans to help establish their project ideas and keep them running for the first couple of years.

When asked about how they felt about their first lecture, Tali and Nadine stated, “People asked Hisham a lot of questions and we see that as a major sign of success. We want people in the village to get to know each other better and as a small community, we don’t talk and get together as much as we should. We see that as a problem, especially with the upcoming expansion of the village. It’s important that we make this a tradition for the future of the village.”

With a turn out of eighteen village members and the success of their first lecture under their belts, both Nadine and Tali plan on continuing their lecture project which they hope to hold on the first Thursday of every month.

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