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October 12, 2010, 11:45 AM

Ein Bustan chosen as top peace project

Located in the Bedouin village of Hilf in the Galilee, the Arab-Jewish Kindergarten, Ein Bustan of Salaam Shalom Educational Foundation CC, was selected as an outstanding peace-building project from over 60 different educator programs throughout Israel. Chosen along with nine other peace projects, Ein Bustan will present its work at an upcoming November conference whose goal is to promote peace education, tolerance and joint Arab Jewish life in the region. The conference is sponsored by the Program for Excellence at the Sahknin College for Teacher Training, the Academic College for Teacher Training at Oranim, the Department for Civil Education in the Israel Ministry of Education, the Abraham Fund, Merhavim the Institute for the Advancement of Shared Citizenship in Israel, as well the Palestinian-Israeli Peace NGO Forum. All ten peace projects will present their programs and three will be selected to receive monetary prizes.

Amir Shlomian, is the founder of Ein Bustan in URI’s MENA Region. Deeply affected by the violence and fear that gripped his community during the second intifada, his work began as a search for an educational framework which would provide the tools for living in the complex multicultural society of Israel.

Ein Bustan which means, Spring in the Garden, is a pilot Arab/Jewish kindergarten pioneering the use of the Waldorf model of humanistic education in a bi-cultural context. Recognized by UNESCO, this curriculum serves to promote its overarching goals of teaching peace and international understanding. The Waldorf approach to education is used in almost 1,000 schools in over 70 countries through the world.  With an emphasis on encouraging the imagination and creativity of the child, humanistic values, social responsibility, nature, arts, and music, Ein Bustan’s kindergarten activities are based on traditional arts and crafts. Holidays and customs are celebrated in both cultures.

In August, Ein Bustans’ teachers, parents, children, and volunteers worked together to rebuild playground equipment, weed the garden, paint, plaster, haul out piles of building rubble, and prepare their building’s classrooms for the upcoming school year.  Despite making a sizable addition to their classrooms,  Ein Bustan still has families on a waiting list who hope to send their children to a school which strives to respect differences among all peoples while finding common ground. This project is having a profound influence that ripples beyond the surrounding Arab and Jewish communities, inspiring hope for peaceful coexistence.

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