Sharon Hollombe

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What are contexts and issues that you work on? How are you using peace education to address these issues? What keeps you going?

It's hard to know where to start when considering the divisions that exist in my context - living in Israel, working on Teacher Education, at a research unit that is housed at a religious university, and is funded by the Israeli Ministry of Education. Often, when I think about the number and the scale of conflicts that exist in this broad context, it is overwhelming. The work that I do developing content and training on conflict transformation and social and emotional competencies for teachers across the spectrum of Israeli society bridges some of these divisions by focusing directly on one of the only things that is within each and every one of our control - our own responses in interpersonal conflict situations - and trying to give tools to teachers to learn about and improve their relationships with their students, their colleagues, their communities and themselves. Seeing the impact that our workshops have on teachers and educators from all backgrounds and social groups gives me hope and keeps me going.

What has been your most meaningful or noteworthy moment in your peace education career?

I can't think of one noteworthy moment in particular. It's always been a journey. I have been particularly moved and learned from the process that I have gone through developing the staff of facilitators and actors who work with our center over the past five years. We have grown into a community of people working together towards a common goal, with a common language and understanding, and it has been an honor and a privilege to work and learn alongside a group of such talented and dedicated people. Our reality is difficult, and in Israel we often live completely separate from those who are "others" to ourselves. This group of 50 people is made up of individuals representing the entire range of Israeli society in all of its complexity, and while I am extremely proud of the work that we do with educators in the formal and nonformal education system, I am most proud of the way that we have practiced our own message in our work together, learning to listen to each other and see each other professionally and personally.

How and why did you start working in peace education?

I started learning about Peace Education as an undergraduate at U.C Berkeley as an Israeli-American who was fairly fresh out of the military. When I moved back to Israel I worked as a teacher at a Democratic School for three years, where I gained practical experience in education and working in a purposeful community with a specific educational prerogative. I then did an M.A in Peace Ed at UPEACE in Costa Rica. So I've always been involved in PE, both theoretically and practically, in different ways. I've been working in my current job for five years. As for why - my experience growing up both in California and in Israel gave me a perspective on life that was multifaceted and made me question taken-for-granted paradigms around me, particularly in Israel, around the inevitability of "our" conflict. I went into teacher education because I believe that in order to make structural change, it's important to give teachers the awareness and tools to start making individual changes in their classrooms and in their relationships.