(Jerusalem, April 23rd, 2020) -- As millions of teens worldwide are at home due to Coronavirus pandemic, a group of Israeli and North American teens decided to create an international initiative that connects teenagers abroad through a first-of-its-kind project. The participants of "Tevel" – the StandWithUs Israel international public diplomacy and leadership program for high school students – and the "StandWithUs High School Internship" - the North American teen leadership program - seized the opportunity and created a new virtual platform, ConnecTeen, that connects teens from Israel and North America on a weekly basis through a new virtual platform.
Tevel and the StandWithUs High School Internship quickly adapted to the challenging situation and gave the young participants a healthy new platform for relationship building through creativity and initiative. Every week the participants meet in pairs online (one Israeli teen and one North American teen) and together they discuss relevant issues including how they are coping with the challenging time they are facing, the antisemitism they are experiencing in their communities, the relationship between Israel and Diaspora Jewry, security, human rights, public diplomacy etc.
Through these unique meetings, the students research the different issues, sharing each other's views and learn how theother encounters these challenges. At the end of the project on May 8, participants will present the things they have learned in front of their peers, and together they will build a community of young innovative leaders that will face the Jewish world challenges of the 21st century. After the world pandemic will pass, our hope is that the young leaders participating in the project will be able to meet, face to face in the future, and continue developing their friendships. As part of a competition held the week of April 12 among all youth leadership programs in Jerusalem hosted by the MAI Center and in collaboration with the Jerusalem Municipality, the ConnecTeen project won first place according to the "apprentices' votes" and second place according to the votes of the judges (including the Jerusalem Municipality's senior officials). "These young leaders are only sixteen and they already show interest in international relations and the future of Israel – these days it's truly inspiring," said Alon Sternberg, StandWithUs Tevel Director. Miri Kornfeld, Executive Director of High School Affairs agrees.
"At a time when educational institutions are struggling to adapt to the 'new normal,' I'm proud of the fact that weare able to provide our teens with the ability to reach farther than they have ever reached before, develop relationships with members of the international StandWithUs community, and challenge each other to learn from the others' perspective." About Tevel Tevel is a first if it's kind international public diplomacy and leadership program for Israeli High School students. Started in 2020 in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Tevel trains Israeli 10th graders to become future ambassadors for the state of Israel through various professional workshops with the most leading experts in the field of Israel education and the fight against antisemitism. About the StandWithUs High School Internship Started in 2012, the StandWithUs High School Internship Program is a high school leadership program that prepares students for the challenges they may face regarding Israel in college and in their communities. Students participate in a yearlong program that includes two national conferences and ongoing educational online workshops, and they receive guidance and funding to run programming in their high schools and youth groups. Students are encouraged to participate in positive campaigns that inspire their peers and educate people of all ages about Israel. About StandWithUs StandWithUs (SWU) is an eighteen-year-old, international, non-profit and non-partisan Israel education organization that works to inspire and educate people of all ages about Israel, as well as challenge misinformation and fight against antisemitism. Through university fellowships, high school internships, middle school curricula, conferences, materials, social media, educational films and missions to Israel, StandWithUs supports people around the world who want to educate their schools and communities about Israel. Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Los Angeles, the organization has chapters and activities on 5 continents, including the U.S., Israel, UK, Canada, South Africa and Brazil. For the last seven years, SWU has consistently received the highest ratings from Charity Navigator (4 stars) and Guidestar (Platinum)