While we (I, Shoval, and my co-author, Matan) were both born in Israel and have lived all our lives in Jerusalem, one of us comes from eight generations in this country and the other was born to parents who only made their way here from Ethiopia in the 1980s.
But when we were given the opportunity to be among the first Israeli students to travel to Dubai and represent our country, we were certainly united in an incredible sense of pride and honor.
Earlier this month, we joined 14 fellow students, all from Jerusalem, as participants in the PICO Kids Ambassadors mission to the United Arab Emirates. This is something that Israeli kids would never have been able to do even a couple years ago and we knew it was a great opportunity, and also a responsibility.
One of the messages that we took with us was about the power of youth to make a difference. People often question the abilities of kids because they think that we might be focused on less important things. And sometimes we are.
But the truth is that kids have the ability to change the world because we often want to think differently than adults.
It is true that kids often act without thinking as much. When we see a great idea or a great product, we want to participate or buy it faster than adults. We don’t necessarily overthink or overanalyze. But that can also be a good thing, especially when it comes to creating relationships with others — and we were lucky to be able to put that idea to good use in Dubai.
Dubai is an incredible place because it brings together the past, present and future like nothing we could have ever imagined. Whatever we see on TV and read in newspapers is nothing compared to being there. On the one hand, the culture isn’t so different from Israel and we could feel that we were in the same “neighborhood” of the world. But it is also such a diverse place with people from all over the world and there is a feeling that everyone is involved in bringing new ideas and talents to explore all sorts of new possibilities.
The most important day of our trip was the “Makethon,” a program where we met with local students to work on solutions to problems with water scarcity. Water scarcity is a challenge which will most impact us, our children and our grandchildren, and it is up to our generations to find a solution.
So even while we all feel comfortable in different languages (we were able to speak English to each other) and come from different parts of the world, the fact that we have common problems to solve brings us together. Being in a place like Dubai reminded us that there is no one way to look at the rest of the world.
We learned many lessons during our time in Dubai but maybe the biggest lesson is the power of people to come together. We need to be ready to meet people and talk to them and then we can establish relationships that will change the world.
When we think of the Abraham Accords, we mostly think about tourism and businesses that will be able to trade between our countries. And that’s all very important.
But after we spent almost a week in the UAE, we know that maybe the most important thing we can learn from the Accords is the power for us to learn together. To know that, as different as we thought we were, we can do so much if we are just ready to speak to one another.
If we come together and just talk, then anything is possible.
As representatives of the future generation we’re ready to do our part.
The above was co-authored by Matan Tzenvirt, who also participated in the PICO Kids Ambassadors Mission to Dubai.
For more information please visit https://www.facebook.com/PICO-Kids-פיקו-קידס-1795964073761745