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SOAR Youth Leadership Programme 2018/19 conducted their second learning trip to Israel from 20 to 27 January 2019. Through active participation in a series of lectures, meetings, field visits and a youth forum, 35 students from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Peking University together explored issues ranging from Israel as a start-up nation and an inclusive society with various ethnic groups, cultures and religious to Israelis’ sense of belonging of their own country.

The trip kicked off with visiting start-up companies and Taglit Innovation Center in Tel Aviv. Through interviews and talks, students understood the support Israel government provides for start-up pilot programmes in Israel. They saw that Israel's innovation ecosystem does not on rely on the funding provided at the early stage, but also their attitudes of accepting failures and their spirit of Tikkun Olam (“Repair the World”); these attitudes of the people in Israel encourage them to find solutions and contribute to the betterment of the society and the world.

In the Beit HaGefen - The Arab Jewish Cultural Center and the Wadi Nisnas Neighbourhood in the city of Haifa, students learnt about the concept of “Shared Society”, where both Jewish and Arab residents could feel the sense of belonging through shaping the society together. The International Youth Forum at the University of Haifa also provided great opportunities for students to communicate and exchange visions and thoughts with local Arab and Jewish students about promoting equality and creating an inclusive society in the modern world.

In the meeting with Mr Amir Lati, Minister-Counsellor of the Asia Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, students learned of the latest developments in Israel and its relations with China. Furthermore, Mr. Amit Zanrk from the Middle-East Division helped students gain a better idea of the role of Israel in a changing Middle East.  They were filled also with a deeper understanding of the Israel & Palestinians P2P projects shared by Ms Gali Itzhak from the Palestinian Affairs and Regional Cooperation Department, which laid a good foundation for students’ further learning.

Towards the end of the trip, the visits to Bethlehem at the West Bank and the Yad Vashem helped students reflect on the importance of being an ethical leader as well as the social responsibility young people should take in making the world a better place. Through conversing with the Founder of Yes for Children, students were inspired by his dedication in turning vision into action in order to improve the lives of children in difficult circumstances.

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