Olive Tree Initiative:

Bold UC Irvine student-innovators break ice,

change during Holy Land travel

Wednesday, 29 October 2008


     To see what the future looks like, you're on the right page.
     University of California, Irvine, student-heroes are painting a picture of what life will look like just around the corner.
     Their OLIVE TREE INITIATIVE - on a campus known for strife regarding the Holy Land - now waits for no governments, no institutions to change.
     It is student-drive, student-owned, student-funded - keys to its success.

     Out of the fire of past UC, Irvine, campus conflicts about the Middle East is rising a phoenix with a human face of youth.
     Young adults with the will and skill to communicate properly, and to invent a better future together.
     In 2007, UCI student-innovators from Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Druze, and unaffiliated backgrounds made firm their decision to take a fact-finding trip to Israel/Palestine.
     But they didn't count on it taking 18 months to happen.
     National travel restrictions meant UCI could not sponsor the trip.
     So first the youth had to raise for their OLIVE TREE INITIATIVE more than $60,000 from diverse Orange County groups and individuals for travel expenses.
     Never giving up, they spent month after month meeting and planning, these diverse women and men from:

                Anteaters for Israel
                Muslim Student Union
                Society of Arab Students
                Middle East Studies Initiative
                Model U.N

     While building relationships, the informed themselves on history and recent developments in the region.
     By addressing cultural and religious differences and similarities, they developed their communication skills.
     The young scholars established protocols for active listening and interaction among themselves and with the often-controversial speakers they would hear.
     Finally, September 1, 2008, 14 students and three advisors left from John Wayne Orange County Airport for the Middle East.
     And 14 days later, they returned with a deeper understanding of the many conflicting positions and human narratives in the region.
     Now, the students have eagerly begun sharing in public presentations their amazing and surprising experiences - what they learned from their encounters.
     OLIVE TREE INITIATIVE participants are now champions of constructive dialogue throughout their campus and wider community.
     READ more about these inventors of our shared future:


Channeling conflict

Published in The Daily Pilot - Thursday, 20 October 2008


Jewish, Muslim student leaders at UCI visit Holy Land together

Published in the Orange County Register - Friday, October 24, 2008


Olive Tree Bears Beneficial Fruit

Published in New University - October 27 2008


     SEE the compelling 10-minute video of the student-travellers:




     And VISIT Facebook for even more about OLIVE TREE INITIATIVE progress:


     A visionary and shepherd of OLIVE TREE INITIATIVE is Daniel Wehrenfennig, UCI Ph.D. student exploring how political and social science works in real life.
I am studying and comparing the role of citizen diplomacy and dialogue in the context of Israel/Palestine and Northern Ireland," e-mailed the German scholar and social innovator.
     "This whole initiative is even more amazing in the context of the tensions on campus on this issue,"
     "And it is definitely a proof that dialogue can make a difference."
     For MORE INFORMATION write to Daniel Wehrenfennig at dwehrenf@uci.edu .

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~
     And know that - in time - governments and institutions will follow people's successful models.
     Today, 29 October 2008, a White House press release clarified that.
     "The President looks forward to participating in the United Nations meeting on interfaith dialogue, in New York City on 13 November. 
     "The President appreciates King Abdallah of Saudi Arabias initiative in calling for this dialogue and remains committed to fostering interfaith harmony among all religions, both at home and abroad. 
     "The United States affirms its support for individual religious freedom, the right to practice ones religion, the equality of all people regardless of their religious faith, and the other principles of religious freedom enshrined in the U.N. Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 
     "The President also looks forward to holding a bilateral meeting with King Abdallah in New York on November 13."

     The road to the future is discovered, surveyed, and paved by citizens with the wisdom and courage to live by their highest principles - exactly what works in real life.
      Look at the young women and men of the OLIVE TREE INITIATIVE at the University of California, Irvine.
     See the future.