The institute has been working, for over ten years, to do what is common sense - to recognize that environmental stress in the Eastern Mediterranean is a shared, and very serious issue. As a social scientist, I am interested in it as an organization that works hard to turn idealism into practice. When I was invited to do research on the institute and then to participate in some of the institute's regional research, I accepted. Often we study problems; this was a chance to study an ambitious project to make solutions. I later joined the advisory board because I was impressed by what I had learned. Both the environmental and the peacebuilding challenges in the region are immense. The institute is building relationships - between those who come as students and between regional experts and policy makers - to help those in the region work together on them.
My experience with the Arava Institute has been extremely positive for the past two years that I have been involved--very professional and dedicated to the cause of peace, open-minded and evenhanded, in my long experience with non-profits, an extraordinary organization. I am proud to be associated with it. When I have spoken about the Institute in public meetings such as for Hadassah, people are always very impressed with its mission and its materials. When I hosted speakers from the organization at a colleague's home, all guests were impressed by the intelligence, sincerity and articulateness of the Institute's leaders.
Our son studied at the Arava Institute in 2001. When we visited we were amazed by an atmosphere where Jews, Muslims and Christians lived and studied together in an environment where everyone was entitled to their own opinion.What a wonderful model for co-existence. The motto says it all " Nature Knows NO Borders"
As a Muslim woman I have been working with the FAI for over 2 years and i am astounded that the reality of peace and co-existence between Jews and Muslims is being made in history through the Arava Institute. I commmend my colleagues and institute for such an extraordinary vision of peace.
For the past 6 years, I have been a member of Friends of the Arava's Board and it has been one of the most challenging and fulfilling experiences of my life. When my wife and I lived in Israel in 2002-2003, I taught a couple of environmental law classes at the Institute, met its diverse Jewish, Muslim, Christian and non-denominational students. I discovered an institutional model for the development of peace-building and reconciliation among Jews and Arabs in Israel and the Middle East, I found an antidote to cynicism and despair, and I met some of the most exciting and courageous young environmental science and policy students on the globe. In the face of governmental posturing and intransigence, the Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian researchers and academics who work at and with the Institute (which is supported by Friends of the Arava Institute) are working cooperatively and productively on transboundary water resource and air quality projects to make the possibility of international and regional environmental protection a reality. After 6 years, my excitement not only hasn't diminished; it's increased.
The Arava Institute consistently creates positive outcomes (environmental professionals, positive programs and interactions, successful trans-boundary research) regardless of the political climate. When peace seems close, and when peace seems impossibly distant, the Insitute and its graduates continue to work together to solve common problems. Meeting the students, graduates, staff and faculty has been an inspiration to me, and supporting the institute through contributions allows me to feel that I am doing what I can to promote understanding and constructive enviromental solutions in the Middle East.
It is a great organization doing important work in the Middle East in both the environment and in peace building. The regions environmental issues can only be solved cooperatively by the countries and the peoples of the region. The Arava Institute is the only organization that is doing this. At the same time, the personal bonds being created between the Arab & Israeli, Christian, Jewish & Muslim students, are furthering the interests of peace.
I am honored to be a member of the Board of Trustees. The Arava Institute is truly unique in both environmental work and in bring young Palestinians, Jordanians, Israelis and North Americans together to address the Middle East's environmental and co-existance issues. As someone involved in fundraising and marketing on the volunteer level I have had the privilage of meeting many of the students, faculty and alumni and they are all driven by an unshaking commitment to a brighter, sustainable future for the Middle East.
We have been supporting the Arava Institute since shortly after it's creation in 1996. We have housed many students as they pass through Washignton, DC - Jordanians, Israelis, Palestinians, Canadians and Americans; Muslims, Christians and Jews. Our son studied at the Institute for a year. I sincerely believe that working with the younger generation is the best way to attain peace in the Middle East. Using the shared concern of the local environment as the anchor and starting point to develop relationships was a stroke of genius. Involvement in the Friends of the Arava Institute is an incredibly rewarding experience. I can actually see the benefit of our financial contributions as I meet students and alumni.
I have known of the Arava Institute and the Friends of the Arava Institute since the inception of both entities. The dual roles of the Arava Intitute (research environmental issues and promoting co-existence) address the vital concerns facing our world. The fundraising by the Friends of the Arava Institute is volunteer driven with low overhead, enabling the most results for every dollar donation.
Because the mission of the Arava Institute and by extension, the Friends of the Arava Institute, is so important to the cause of peaceful and collaborative co-existence, I believe that support of FAI will continue to grow exponentially as people learn about the Institute. FAI is an organization full of people who are dedicated and passionate about its success. It's an honor to be associated with FAI.
I first visited the Arava Institute four years ago and have been back several times since. As an environmental educator and funder of grassroots environmental projects in the U.S. and Israel, I find the work that the Institute is extraordinary on every level --- their absolute dedication to peace through environmental understanding and sustainability; a dedicated faculty and integrated student body of Israelis, Palestinians,Jordanians and North Americans and a fully transparent accountability of their activities.
It's the noise! When I attended the Arava Institute's first big meeting in the US at the Rayburn Senate Offices in DC, the room was filled with current and former students: Palestinians, Jordanians, Israelis, Israeli-Arabs...a gamut representaton of the Mideast. Here were "enemies" who had been freed of the shackles of learned hatred, and had learned instead - through the urgency of environmental challenges - the roots of their common humanity. The noise? It was the joyful collective cacaphony of young people talking about anything, sharing their thoughts and feelings with each other, REVELING IN THEIR COMPANY; but - most importantly - shaking off the silence of despair and mistrust. I've been around, and I have never heard such a beautiful noise before or since!
Yes, I am prejudiced: I have the honor of serving on the board of the Friends of the Arava Institute, but I would not be on this board, or sing its praises, if I didn't believe that what the Arava Institute does is worthy of my support. Here's why: The Arava Institute is a place where peace and coexistence are no mere buzz words. The people and the programs walk the talk of peace. It's not just about "hugs and hummus meetings." The students, staff, alumni, faculty, are building bridges of peace through long-term, enduring relationships with each other and with projects that benefit the air we breathe, the land we walk on and the water we drink and need for survival. The organization's motto, "Nature Knows No Borders" is one we all need to recognize and remember if our precious children and this precious planet are to survive.