Ethnic, political and religious differences continue to create divisions in many aspects of daily life. Sometimes these divisions can also create disparities in employment opportunities. Take for instance the long standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There are Palestinians and Israeli who can live and work relatively in the same area and never met each other. A few innovators at MIT are looking to create a model to bridge the gap between these two groups.
Middle East Education through Technology (MEET) in an initiative that brings together young Palestinians and Israelis to study technology and entrepreneurship, while breaking down stereotypes and fostering better relationships and mutual respect. The goal of the program is to replicate a real workplace situation where identities are reframed around professional interests and skills sets rather than political ideologies.
The students participate in a three-year program at the University of Jerusalem, where they work on projects together. One of the tools to come out of the program is a mobile app called Count Me In, which was originally designed to help students stay in touch after they graduate from the program. It has now grown into a larger social networking tool. Other projects include an conference registration portal, an online magazine and a food management app.
As another round of peace talks begin to take place, MEET shows the potential that these two strained communities could possibly work together in harmony one day.
“I think MEET’s ultimate goal is not the agreement that will be signed by the two sides. It’s the day after,” said Anat Binur, MEET co-founder.