It’s amazing how the world connects us. The more I travel the smaller the world becomes. And I keep being reminded that travel brings more travel. The more people I interact with, the more opportunities around the world I find. Last year during a Thai Massage Course in Greece, I made a friend from Israel. She told me about her work at a place called EcoME, and invited me to come check it out if I ever made it to the country.
And interestingly enough, I had been wanting to visit Israel and got the opportunity to do so when I left the states in March. So I flew into Tel Aviv and arranged to volunteer at EcoME when I arrived.
EcoME is a place for peace in the West Bank hosting a variety of programs with the goal of connecting Palestinians and Israelis for dialogue and peace through common interests and healing processes.
When I arrived, I stumbled upon EcoMe’s biggest yearly workshop, in the topic of Non-violent Communication. I came to volunteer a few days, but, as usual, I planned on staying just a few days, and ended up staying and working a few weeks; the entirety of the program.
After spending some time getting to know the place, and the staff, I became more and more impressed with the center. As the name suggests, the environment, and sustainability are core values here. Following from this, all the food here is vegan, and almost entirely made from local fruits and veggies. I spent a week in the kitchen and I was so happy to be able to work with fresh, local ingredients, and cook food similar to the style of food I eat in my personal life.
Besides being eco friendly and vegan, EcoME incorporates another interest of mine. Something I don’t often talk about on my blog is politics, however I spent my earlier years studying politics, and diplomacy. Conflict resolution was a huge topic of my study, and I tend to find myself in regions of conflict and especially separation to varying degrees. Before coming to this region, I was relatively familiar with the Israeli Palestinian conflict, but I really had not done so much investigating into this topic.
I won’t go into much detail on this post, but being here has revealed some interesting truths to me, and it has also reinvigorated my dedication to alternative conflict resolution. To me, conflict is often caused and perpetuated by a few factors; attachment to identity, labeling, cultural misunderstanding, and most importantly unjustified fears. In my opinion, the best way to solve any conflict is to find common ground. To realize the other is actually the same.
EcoME center does this by bringing people from all sides together, to connect at a more basic, human level through common interests. If we can all do yoga together, or cook together, or dance together, or play music together, we can put our preconceived notions aside, and see that we are all just human people.
The center is located nearby the desert and the Dead Sea, so it gets quite hot in the summer. EcoME will close for the summer, and will reopen next season in the fall.
Currently, they are running a fund-raising campaign to offer more programs next year. If you would like to donate even just a few dollars to this amazing cause, you can check out their Indiegogo page here.
As someone who has spent about a month here, I can tell you the money goes to running this center; the people living and working here are volunteers who believe in the place, and believe in peace. Also, you are more than welcome to get in touch with the organizers and come volunteer at EcoME. Maybe I will even see you here, and be able to cook for you!
As I travel, I love to find communities like EcoME. Have you lived, worked, or volunteered at a similar place? How was your experience? Would you be interested in visiting EcoMe?