Today, we would like you to get to know one of our partners: MIT MEET (Middle East Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow). I was introduced to MEET in San Francisco in 2015, where I was working as an adviser in a teen philanthropy program. Our group was exploring organizations breaking ground with new educational initiatives, and we had the opportunity to hear from MEET staff members and alumni. I was blown away by their commitment to skill development and equality.
MEET brings together young Israeli and Palestinian leaders to create positive change through technology and entrepreneurship, in partnership with MIT. MEET offers a three-year program for Israeli and Palestinian high school students, a significant commitment for both these young leaders and MEET peacebuilders. As a part of the program, students participate in three summer intensives in Jerusalem taught by MIT instructors, and during the year they also participate in programs at the MEET hubs in Jerusalem and Nazareth. They spend 600 hours over the three years learning computer science, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills. The curriculum is entirely in English, a neutral language for the participants.
One reason MEET stands out to me is because of its commitment to equality. Every year, exactly half of MEET students are Palestinians and half are Israelis. Half are girls and half are boys. These numbers are culled from over 800 applicants in Israel and the West Bank, meaning only 10% are accepted to participate in the program. These are truly the best of the best. But there are other things that set MEET apart. It is long-term, skill-based, and local, meaning that MEET is integrated into students’ daily lives and not removed from the broader issues they face on a regular basis. MEET students and alumni take on leadership roles in their community, and are role models for others they interact with. You can learn more about these projects here.
Positive change happens in unexpected times and places. MEET gives people who are unlikely to otherwise interact the chance to do so, on neutral and non-violent terms. Instead of Israelis and Palestinians having a first encounter due to tragic circumstances, they are given the opportunity to develop their skills and build a better future together. They are a light of hope, and one that originates from right here in Boston.