University of California, Irvine
The XIV Dalai Lama Endowed Scholarship The XIV Dalai Lama Endowed Scholarship


The UC Student Leadership Summit
April 24-26, 2009
Organized by UCI Dalai Lama Scholars and Olive Tree Initiative

UC Student Leadership Summit Program

Student leaders from UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Merced, UC Riverside, UC San Francisco, UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego and UC Santa Cruz participated in a stimulating three-day summit meeting hosted by UCI Dalai Lama Scholars and Olive Tree Initiative.

The summit was designed to engage and support University of California student leaders committed to authentic and civil dialogue regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The primary objectives of the summit were to constructively dialogue about the need for new diplomacy in the Middle East, and to provide useful tools for creating and sustaining student organizations at UC campuses that advance collaboration, cooperation and compassion.

On Friday evening, student leaders arrived at UCI from their various campuses. The students enjoyed an inter-religious celebration dinner at the UCI Student Center hosted by the Jewish Federation of Orange County and had the opportunity to get to know each other and learn about the dozens of student organizations represented.

On Saturday, among the speakers discussing the need for new diplomacy were: Shannon Shibata, Director, Center for New Diplomacy, Jerusalem, Avihu Cohen, Director of Special Projects, Center for New Diplomacy, Jerusalem, and Usama Al Zoughbi, Citizens Diplomacy Projector Coordinator, Wi'am, The Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center, Bethlehem. Each speaker had a distinct point of view about the need for diplomacy in the Middle East. Through a series of small breakout sessions, students then had the opportunity to reflect on and share their impressions and views and to envision Israel/Palestine 2020. The students engaged in animated discussions about these controversial issues but remained respectful throughout.

After a dinner among the students at the UCI Student Center, over 200 community members attended the summit community event at the Crystal Cove Auditorium where there was a presentation and open discussion among the foregoing speakers. The guests were welcomed by Chancellor Michael V. Drake, M.D. who talked about the important work being done by UCI students and supporters of the Olive Tree Initiative. Community members from various mosques and synagogues in Orange County joined the discussion and enjoyed a post-event reception hosted by the UCI Center for Citizen Peacebuilding. Students mingled with community members and guest speakers until midnight to share their views about the dialogue and about the UCI students' plans for the next trip to the Middle East by a new set of members of the Olive Tree Initiative.

On Sunday, the student leaders learned more about the groundbreaking work of the Olive Tree Initiative in bringing together students from different faiths and viewpoints to confront, embrace and discuss the challenges presented in the Middle East. Students participated in a series of workshops such as “Forming a Resilient Group” and “Bringing It Back: working with the Campus and Community” to get real-life perspective, advice and practical tools for creating and sustaining student organizations that are committed to peace and dialogue on their campuses.

Each participant received a copy of the UCI Expressions/Impressions journal, a compilation of personal reflections by the members of the Olive Tree Initiative. As noted in the introduction by Chancellor Drake, the “Olive Tree Initiative represents a significant step for our campus as we continue to encourage constructive, engaged dialogues in difficult topics and endeavor to more fully live our lives. It is a call for new approaches to peace building, at home and abroad.” The seeds of this summit will germinate as these student leaders share their own voices for peace and “grow their own Olive Tree.”

UC Student Leadership Summit Program (PDF requires Adobe Reader)

The Need for New Diplomacy in the Middle East (PDF)