Goodbye from IFLAC Interns Ariana and PhillipPosted: 2014/01/18
Text: Solveig Hansen
During their 2013 fall semester at the University of Haifa, American students Ariana Caraffa and Phillip Maciaszek worked as interns with IFLAC and Prof. Ada Aharoni for three months. They enthusiastically plunged into the various projects, like creating a Facebook page for IFLAC and organizing a peace poetry and short story contest for children.
Ariana is from Phoenix, Arizona. She is working toward a Bachelor’s Degree in Islamic Civilizations and Societies, Political Science, and Faith Peace & Justice Studies at Boston College.
Phillip is studying Psychology with concentrations in French and International studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago.
In their experience letters below, Phillip says he has learned how vital peace education is to the perception of one’s culture, customs, history, and tradition, while Ariana stresses the power of the written word in the promotion of peace.
We thank you, Ariana and Phillip, and wish you all the best, whatever career paths you choose to take!
My Eye-Opening IFLAC Intern Experience
By Ariana Caraffa
My experience as an intern for the International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace (IFLAC) has been both rewarding and eye-opening for me. I have had the most wonderful time working with Prof. Ada Aharoni, the founding president of IFLAC and 2013 nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize. It has truly been a gift and a pleasure to learn from this woman who has accomplished so much in the name of peace and justice throughout her life.
As an intern, I worked on many projects for IFLAC – including writing letters to organizations, creating petitions, writing informational/promotional articles, creating a social media platform through Facebook, conducting and facilitating interviews, planning and hosting a peace poetry and short story contest for children, and communicating with global citizens all across the world – from South America to Japan. My fellow intern, Phillip, and I began our three months with IFLAC by writing letters to the United Nations and human rights NGOs calling for attention to the pressing issue of the horrifying Burka. In these letters we implore the UN to ban the burka because women not only have no identity in the burka; they have no voice either.
Next we created three important petitions. The first was a continuation of our Ban the Burka project. The second was a plea to stop the inhumane killing in Syria. The third petition, and the most pressing, is the “Israeli and Palestinian Leaders: This Time Give Peace a Real Chance” petition. IFLAC has been working for years to contribute to peace efforts for Israel and Palestine. Throughout my time at IFLAC, I have learned that peace is only truly possible if leaders agree to compromise and work together. If leaders resist peace, how can their followers expect and work towards peace?
Another huge part of my intern experience at IFLAC has been creating and updating a social media platform for the organization. IFLAC already had an IFLAC Kids Facebook page, but I felt it needed an official IFLAC Facebook page as well. While the page still has a long way to grow in terms of “Likes” and support, it is off to a great start. For an organization such as IFLAC, it is very important to spread peace through communication in social media because technology has become so pivotal in the culture of youth these days.
I also truly enjoyed facilitating and participating in two Skype interviews with Ada Aharoni and those interested in her work in peace literature and the work of IFLAC. Hearing Ada speak passionately about peace through literature to an academic from the University of Notre Dame showed me just how promising the concept of peace through literature truly is. We must get more organizations and leaders to recognize the power of the written word for promoting peace. An author of a book about strong women changing the world also interviewed Ada during my time as an intern. It was humbling and inspiring to hear about the difficult yet extremely successful journey Ada has had over the course of her lifetime in the name of peace.
The last large project I worked on as an intern for IFLAC was holding a peace poetry and short story contest for children. It was great to be able to involve children in creating a culture of peace within their own communities through writing. I was taken aback by how much love, maturity, and acceptance is present in these young children. This simply proves further the necessity of promoting a peace culture amongst youth, in the hope that this translates to a future and sustainable peace.
I am so very thankful for the opportunity to have been able to spend three months with the International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace. I learned how to promote justice, human rights, and peace professionally and successfully. I learned how a non-profit organization operates despite setbacks. Lastly, I learned that the only way to achieve true and lasting peace is to be dedicated to such a cause for a lifetime and more. IFLAC has achieved so much for peace all over the world, and I am happy to have been a part of it. I look forward to a future career in development and human rights. IFLAC has prepared me well.
My IFLAC Experience
By Phillip A. Maciaszek
During my fall semester studying abroad in Haifa, I interned at the International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace. IFLAC is a peace non-governmental organization founded by Egyptian-born Israeli poet, writer, and sociologist, Professor Ada Aharoni. IFLAC was founded in 1999 to promote and spread peace by building bridges of understanding and peace through the means of culture, literature, and communication. This bridge helps people perceive the world as one global village where fellow brothers and sisters live in unity, in peace and harmony.
I dove into my internship with the drafting and delivering several petitions and formal letters to various peace non-governmental organizations and to the several branches of the United Nations and the European Union. Ariana (my fellow intern) and I utilized these petitions and letters to focus on current social and political issues across the globe, such as the controversy behind the burka, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and the Syrian Civil War. While this has enabled us to interact with fellow peers about such issues and for us to engage in dialogue with the United Nations and various peace non-governmental organizations, it taught me how vital peace education is to the perception of one’s culture, customs, history, and traditions. In my opinion, this is one of the keys for a more peaceful world. We also launched IFLAC in social media with the creation of a Facebook page and regularly posted our work and progress as well as important news or stories regarding such vital issues going on around the world.
We are also in the process in obtaining a partnership with a United Nation’s specialized agency, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) along with conversing with various news sources regarding a possible expose or piece on IFLAC. Also, our last project was the hosting of a peace story and poetry contest among children of the age of 9 through 14 across the globe. It is truly rewarding and fascinating reading through the childrens’ stories and learn what peace means to them.
During high school and my earlier years of undergraduate studies, I was filled with uncertainty with what I have wanted to do with my life. Career goals would quickly change; one day I would aspire to be an aerospace engineer and the next, a neurologist. This would later switch from a clinical psychologist to a United States Foreign Service Officer. It seemed that the majority of my peers knew exactly what they wanted to do and as often as I made these changes, I would become frustrated. Before I had came to Israel, I convinced myself that I would eventually become a diplomat and that I have changed my mind one time too many to do it again. However, that ironically changed as I began interning for Ada Aharoni and her organization, IFLAC. Sitting in her living room, listening to her vivid stories of her childhood in Egypt, France, and Israel while going through the pages of her vast collection of peace poems, novels, and memoirs has changed my outlook on life. It was contagious and inspirational to hear what was it that motivated Professor Aharoni to be where she is today in a way that it made me realize that what if my life was also destined to spread peace and help people? Am I meant to help create a world full of understanding and respect among each other? All I’m certain is my goal currently is to teach English as a second language to children in South Korea upon my graduation in May, followed by going to graduate school to receive my master’s in International Development. After that? Who knows. Perhaps the Peace Corps, or a peace non-governmental organization. All I know is that I will always have the foundations and lessons that I have learned from my internship at IFLAC with me in whatever I do.