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Shai Reshef Headshot

My Vision: Peace in Palestine and Beyond

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"Peace is the respect for the rights of others." -- Benito Juarez (1806-1872)

Peace. I find it troubling that this word has become cliché in much of the world. For the millions of individuals who are living through war and genocide at this very moment, peace is a real concept -- albeit one that is too distant.

I believe that peace fundamentally stems from education. Educated people are more likely to have been exposed to diversity, to new ideas and to different ways of thinking. Consequently, they are more likely to be open-minded, accepting of difference and, having invested in their futures, are less likely to turn to violence, crime and terrorism. The goal, therefore, should be to educate as many people as possible, particularly in regions of protracted conflict, such as in the Middle East. Additionally, education provides tools to achieve economic stability, and when individuals are given these tools, they turn to help others, creating a ripple effect. First, it's a better community, then a better town, region, country and, finally, world.

This belief is at the crux of University of the People (UoPeople), which I founded in 2009. The University both provides marginalized individuals with access to higher education, while also employing people in economically challenged regions for administrative needs. Most recently, UoPeople decided to bring its IT development to Ramallah, Palestine via a partnership with ASAL Technologies. Palestine is a region that has been through an enormous amount in the last century, and it is the acknowledgment of the economic situation in Palestine that contributed in large part to the reason UoPeople chose to partner with ASAL Technologies for its technology needs -- providing needed jobs in a region hard pressed for them. UoPeople is also currently considering opening an entire back office in Palestine as well to provide additional jobs. In doing so, UoPeople is not only educating individuals in Palestine, but also employing them -- hopefully adding some stability to a region ridden with conflict and uncertainty.

Education and employment, particularly in a global organization like UoPeople, expose people to diversity, new ideas and different ways of thinking. The impact on tolerance cannot be overstated. While conflict boils over in many regions of the world, these so-called 'enemies' share a virtual classroom at UoPeople -- Israelis and Palestinians, Shiite and Sunni Muslims. They are learning academics -- and tolerance -- together.

I firmly believe we can make a significant difference in the lives of individuals through education and economic opportunity -- and every corporation and nonprofit should make these considerations when outsourcing human resources. Of particular note is the consideration that every individual has an effect on his or her surroundings and community. It is by changing the situation in regions of conflict, such as Palestine, via jobs and education, that eventually -- individual by individual, region by region -- we can turn the world into a better place for future generations.