We have had a fantastic week with Solutions Not Sides visiting Bradford for the second time this year. SNS visited schools across the district and new speakers Obada and Eran from Palestine and Israel shared their experiences growing up in the region and their experiences of the conflict.
Students were fascinated to hear their stories and were able to freely ask questions in a safe environment. A sixth form student at Grange Technology College in inner city Bradford remarked at the end of the session that it was “really good to see another side that you don’t usually see.”
Instead of just talking about the conflict, students were also challenged to consider solutions to the problems and consider the deeper meaning of the needs of the other side using an ‘Iceberg’ model where only the top viewpoint is visible but there are many needs and anxieties below the surface that need to be addressed. Together students discussed solutions and came up with ideas for peace such as a two-state model, a Gaza bridge, a co-education initiative, a concert for both sides, and a confederation. The discussion was managed in a safe, respectful environment in the classroom and students were able to ask honest questions or raise concerns to the guest speakers without feeling uncomfortable or controversial.
Above all, the message that pupils took away was that violence would never be a means to end the conflict and that we should focus on ‘solutions not sides.’
SNS was founded in 2010 by Sharon Booth – a Religious Studies Graduate of Cambridge University, who saw the need for a safe space to discuss the conflict as well as grassroots speakers to combat the message put across by leaders and the media. The recent tour to Bradford was funded by the Pears Foundation and Bradford Council, welcomed by the Council for Mosques as a moderate voice for peace and supported by the Linking Network.
If you are interested in hosting a visit in the school year 2017/18 in Bradford or elsewhere please see:
Sessions last 2 hours and are especially ideal for sixth form groups. The Linking Network advisors have sat in a range of sessions in different contexts and have witnessed calm positive impact on students critical thinking skills and empathy built through the careful structure of the session and the direct experience of meeting speakers in their twenties from the region.