What is Bridge?
Bridge, Palestine is a three year, highly selective, youth empowerment and college preparatory program, managed and funded by Palestinian youth empowerment NGOs (details below), to support Palestinian students to study abroad and be leaders for social change in their communities.
In the first cohort of the Bridge program in 2015-2017, 108 students participated, 36 in Gaza Strip and 72 in West Bank and Jerusalem, 50 of whom earned scholarships and many are currently studying abroad at top universities like MIT, Johns Hopkins and Harvard. The current cohort, which started in the spring of 2018, includes 70 students in the West Bank and Jerusalem, and 30 students in the Gaza Strip.
Bridge students are selected from the top students throughout the Palestinian community, representing a diversity of class backgrounds, communities, and schools, from refugee camps to private schools. They were selected from thousands of applicants and have been through a series of rigorous English and youth empowerment camps, weekly English classes during the school year, and intensive academic counseling to prepare them for studying abroad.
What makes Bridge special?
- Competitive Recruitment and Selection – recruited students from across Palestine and selected a cohort of 100 from over 3000 applicants.
- Leadership and Identity Development – cultivates youth skills and connection to their community.
- English Enrichment – develops students English skills for college success through project-based learning, research and debate, creative and persuasive writing, and test prep for college access.
- College and Career Counseling – guides students to navigate global university options and find the best fit options for them.
1) Competitive Recruitment and Selection
Students represent the highest academic performers and most engaged youth leaders in their community from across the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza.
- 3000+ applied in 9th grade in 2017
- 400 selected for 10th grade cohort in 2018
- 100 retained for 11th grade cohort in 2019-2021
2) Leadership and Identity Development
Students engage in a variety of camps and trainings to cultivate their interests and awareness, from computer programming and dancing dabka, the traditional Palestinian dance.
- Identity Development – summer sleepaway camps with guest speakers, film screenings, and discussions centered on Palestinian history, culture and identity.
- Programming and Coding – winter camp with training about electrical components and Arduino Uno program, leading to students designing, building and programming robots
- Dialogue and Debate – training in debate skills and debating controversial, relevant topics related to their community, both in English and in Arabic
- Social Media Campaigning – West Bank and Jerusalem students organized a social media campaign to raise awareness about how to protect the community from COVID-19 pandemic, including guest speakers, memes, hashtags, etc.
- Community campaigning ( Gaza ) : Students managed to raise the children’s awareness toward the COVID-19 pandemic and healthy protective procedures in a community campaign , distributing a ladder and snake boardgame.
- Social Entrepreneurship (Gaza): Students learned about the entrepreneurship skills & how to build a lean canvas to represent their business ideas targeting local problems.
- Elective Trainings – critical thinking and logical argument, mindfulness meditation, singing (choir and karaoke), dancing (salsa, dabka), painting and drawing, sports, cooking, among other areas
- Community Service and Field Trips – hiking in a local nature preserve, cleaning the trash in the countryside, restoring and painting village architecture, practicing survival skills
3) English Enrichment
Students engage in summer and winter camps, as well as weekly year-round classes, that include project-based learning, presentation and debate, research and writing, and test prep for college access exams, which prepare them to be competitive applicants for international universities and be successful in university classrooms globally.
- 2018 summer camp English project-based learning
- 2018-2019 school year weekly classes English research and debate training
- 2019 summer camp English debate, IELTS prep and college counseling
- 2019-2020 school year weekly classes English literary analysis, narrative writing, IELTS and SAT prep, and college counseling
- 2020 winter camp for English and SAT test prep
4) College and Career Counseling
Bridge counsels students to understand their college options and navigate the application process. Since the summer of 2019, students have engaged in mentorship, small group, and one-on-one meetings to learn about their college options and prepare to apply to universities that fit their interests.
- 1-on-1 mentorship from Sept 2019 – Feb 2022 from college graduates and professional educators
- Career Counseling using the Holland Code Test, Meyers-Briggs, and other career and personality tests to discover passions, talents, and possible career paths
- Narrative writing focused on personal storytelling including small group workshops and one-on-one feedback and revision
- Leadership coaching to support students to intentionally deepen their leadership and represent it in their CV
- College Research training for students to understand how to find the many global opportunities
- 1-on-1 College Counseling to guide students to identify the best fit options for the
Background on Organizations
Taawon (cooperation) is the founder of Bridge and the funding organization for the current cohort. of Taawon is a non-profit civil society organization registered in Switzerland. Since its founding in 1983, Taawon has supported vulnerable Palestinians to live in dignity, and works in partnership with local communities to relieve hardship and meet basic needs.
Palestinian Vision (PalVision, or “Ru’ya”) is the manager of the 70 Bridge students in the West Bank and Jerusalem. PalVision was created by a group of young Palestinians in 1998. It arose as a response to an urgent need for Palestinian youth to have an outlet through which to express themselves and their desire to build a strong and healthy Palestinian society.
Al-Natuf is the manager of the 30 Bridge students in Gaza. Al-Natuf is a civil Palestinian association established in 2002, which seeks to support community development in Palestine generally and Gaza Strip particularly.
Bridge students are truly extraordinary. Though they are all unique, they share common values of high achievement and commitment to their community. Below are snapshots of four of our students, a preview of the 100 overall, to demonstrate a bit of their diversity of experiences, identities, skills, and passions.