The Just Sharing Fellowship is a narrative based sharing project between young women in the Bethlehem area of the West Bank, Palestine/Israel and young women in Western Pennsylvania, USA. It is hosted by the Wi’am Conflict Resolution Center in Bethlehem and connected to the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference and “Unstoppable,” a young women’s event supported by the Conference United Methodist Women held in July 2014.
This project seeks to empower the voices of young women while simultaneously dismantling harmful stereotypes and misconceptions. Regardless of geographic location, societal issues tend to affect young women more as they face the double burden of any given social problem and gendered discrimination. Young women are constantly faced with societal expectations that silence their voices and marginalize their role in civic and religious discourse. At the same time, there is general ignorance in America about the situation in Palestine and Israel and a dangerous dehumanization of Arabs. It is important not to prioritize oppression over oppression but rather recognize that injustice anywhere is related to injustice everywhere. Therefore, in these times, it is important for young women to come together, seeking to understand one another and empower each other’s voices.
Since November 2014, the participants in the fellowship have been exploring story-telling and compassionate listening as means of non-violent conflict transformation and relationship building. They have discussed the power of story-telling to either destroy or empower, shared their preconceived images of life in America and Palestine, and brainstormed and workshopped their own stories from their lives. Moreover, each participant has been paired with one or two participants from the other location in order to build a relationship, to understand life more fully in their partner’s community, and to confront their own stereotypes about the other.
Each participant is also required to produce two posts for this blog, featuring a true experience from their life. Every Monday and Wednesday, this blog will be updated with the stories of the participants. These stories collectively reveal the variety and shared struggles of life as a young women in both the United States and Palestine.
Why “Just Sharing”? We share our stories with each other and with others through the pairings and through this blog. We share our stories so that we may work towards social justice together. We hope that, in this way, the act of sharing itself is just.