I am so happy to announce that Building Bridges has registered and become an official non-profit organization in Jerusalem. I am Rawan Zaitoun, Middle East Program Director, and to me, this means that Building Bridges as an organization will be better able to provide consistent and ongoing support to our current and past participants as well as develop programming that is planned and implemented locally, based on the needs of our participants.
When I participated in Building Bridges 13 years ago, I was introduced to Building Bridges by a local organization in Palestine. What I found odd at that time was the absence of the Building Bridges staff from the US. Trusting the connection and the people who already been to Building Bridges, I applied knowing that I would learn about the organization and the amazing people behind it when I got there.
After the program we all arrived home and only a month later the second uprising (intifada) started. The Building Bridges experience and climate at home made it absolutely necessary for us to come together, share and support one another. The absence of a Building Bridges office and staff in the region made it this extremely hard. We, as participants, started planning events that were never enough. The US office tried to be involved as well, but the lack of infrastructure made that very challenging.
Since the establishment of the Jerusalem office in July, 2012, in collaboration with the US office, we launched the 2013-2014 follow-up program for Building Bridges MEUS including an alumni mentorship program.
It was truly a pleasure to host one of our major donors in the office this past October. While, to many, the establishment of the Jerusalem office could be seen only as a physical space to conduct work, to us as participants, staff, alumni and families it represents a commitment to our values and the consistent and long term support and development to all Building Bridges representatives.