The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is now over 120 years old and the longest active conflict in the world today. At times it seems impossible to bridge. Despite tremendous international and local efforts, the Oslo Accords and countless plans and processes, the end is not in sight. People on both sides of this conflict suffer and yearn for peace. But as it has already been said by Nobel Peace Laureate Lester B. Pearson: “How can there be peace if people don’t understand each other and how can they understand each other if they don’t know each other”.
EMIS, short for Eastern Mediterranean International School, opened against all odds in 2014 right when another escalation of the conflict brought a two months deadly fighting round in the Gaza Strip. It took twenty-five years from concept to reality and to open this school whose mission is to Make education a force for peace and sustainability in the Middle East. EMIS is also a proud recipient of the UfM Label in 2016 for its ground-breaking educational program fostering peace and sustainability in the Mediterranean region.
Located on a beautiful green campus of Hakfar Hayarok near Tel Aviv, Israel, EMIS is home almost 200 high school students from 50 different nationalities. By design the student-body national makeup is 20% Israelis, 20% Arab and Muslim nationals and 60% from the rest of the world. The premise is to focus on students from the Middle East while keeping the majority of international students. Thus while having the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in focus, it is not dominating the life on campus.
EMIS is fortunate to be able to support an extensive scholarship program. In fact, the average EMIS student receives a 70% scholarship. The Scholarships are needs-based and are determined case-by-case with the students’ families after the admission process is completed. This ensures that the very best and deserving students get to EMIS and carry its mission forward.
Five classes have already graduated and the first graduates have now already graduated universities around the world including from prestigious universities in the USA, Europe and Asia. They are starting their professional lives around the globe, carrying with them the unforgettable-life-changing EMIS experience.
At EMIS, all students and some of the staff live and study together towards the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma. Together they form a vibrant community of entrepreneurial dedicated global citizens. There is never a dull moment at EMIS. The Corona virus which has turned our world upside-down, has naturally also affected every aspect of life at the EMIS campus. Despite these challenges, and possibly because of them, the students design and lead an ever larger number of new initiatives that can bring a change in the Eastern Mediterranean and back in their home countries.
One such example is the new GREEN-UP project design to study and address the challenges facing the world by climate change. The Green-up Program aims to provide a platform for students, staff and associates of EMIS to engage in activism, advocacy and entrepreneurship that contributes to local, regional and global sustainability.
Green-Up complements classroom learning with practical, real-world experience that empowers students for impact in society through on-site sustainability initiatives on and off campus in areas of conscious resource (e.g., electricity, water) consumption, packaging waste management and recycling, food waste management, and more.
EMIS programs are designed to give students confidence, tools, and experience to make a difference in the world. “Global Impact” is new course developed at EMIS which gives students a chance to develop solutions to major challenges in sustainability and regional conflict. Students lead dozens of committees, projects and clubs; they volunteer in schools and engage in local and global causes.
One of their flagship projects is YOCOPAS ( https://www.yocopas.org/), an international youth movement created and managed by the EMIS students, for peace and sustainability that every year brings together students from a couple dozen Israeli, Palestinian and European high-schools in the Middle East for a three-day Youth Conference with a follow-on program that lasts an entire year.
During Culture Week on campus, students share perspectives and traditions from their own countries, introducing others to their music, food, and creating a better understanding and appreciation of each other.
In a year that marks the 25th Anniversary of the Barcelona Process, and in line with its values, the EMIS School is determined to contribute to peace and stability by educating and forging a new generation of young people with a unique Euro-Mediterranean vision.