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Oleander Activities in the MENA Region + the US

Less than four months after leaving Japan, we are amazed by the impact the 2017 Oleander educators have already made on their communities.

The enthusiasm of the Oleander eductators displayed in Japan has transformed into innovative peace education lesson plans in their home classrooms. In just the Fall semester, the 2017 Oleander educators have directly impacted an estimated 1,700 young people.

Oleander educators have also transmitted their lesson plans to over 220 teachers through train the trainer workshops. These additional teachers have the potential to affect over 48,000 students in the US and Middle East/North Africa region.

Please see below to see what our 2017 alumni have done in the following countries

  • Utah, USA
  • Beirut and Bekka, Lebanon
  • South Carolina, USA
  • Amman, Jordan
  • Minnesota, USA
  • Tunis, Tunisia
  • Ain Sebaa, Kenitra and Meknes, Morocco

Utah, USA


Matt applied his Oleander Initiative designed lesson plan directly into his classroom at the start of the new school year. Matt’s classroom activity utilized the testimonials of hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors) as a way to explore how primary, first-person narratives can spark students to connect with and write about global issues.   Matt used Google Tour Builder to bring his experiences in Hiroshima to his students. To view his work, click HERE


In November, Matt presented his work from the Oleander Initiative at the Utah Council of Teachers of English Conference where he shared his work with 60-70 teachers from throughout the state of Utah.

Bekaa, Lebanon

Khalil with teachers

Khalil implemented his Oleander Initiative designed peace education lesson plan to over 400 students at his school when he returned to Lebanon.





Khalil also implemented a day long series of peace education activities for the students of a private school in the Bekaa Valley. At the end of the inspiring peace education day, Khalil donated the Barefoot Gen comic book to the school’s library.

library donations

South Carolina, USA

dunn photo

Upon his return to South Carolina, Dunn implemented a year – long lesson plan entitled the “Forgiveness and Resilience Project.” Dunn’s students first examined the threat of nuclear and chemical weapons and the ways such weapons touch the lives of all people on the planet. During the first semester, Dunn’s students also explored the life of two survivors of nuclear and chemical weapons—one from Hiroshima or Nagasaki and one from the Middle East. Students delved into the themes of determination and the ability to overcome hardship by composing haikus and engaged in activities that creatively honored the lives of the survivors. Dunn’s year long Oleander activity will conclude with a large – scale performance art project.

Amman, Jordan

A meeting with English language teachers

Iman’s student activity revolved around the watercolor paintings of Iwasaki Chihiro, a Japanese artist and illustrator best known for her water-color illustrations of flowers and children, the theme of which was “peace and happiness for children.”

Art by  Iwasaki Cihiro

Iman’s Oleander activity assigned her English language students to utilize newly learned vocabulary to describe Iwasaki Chihiro’s artwork. Next, students wrote stories and illustrations based on the peace pictures.  The activity concluded with a competition that elected the best student author and artist.


kids song.jpg
Students at Motomachi Elementary school singing “Our Wish for Peace”

Iman also translated the “Our Wish for Peace” song sung by the Motomachi Elementary school students in Hiroshima from Japanese into Arabic. She is currently working with the music teachers of her school to create a new composition for her students to perform during the winter of 2017.

Our wish song.jpg
Iman with the music teachers in her school

Minnesota, USA

eric alone

Eric implemented his project on the subject of peace and justice at the Boys and Girls Club after school program in Minnesota. This project enabled high school mentors to facilitate discussion on issues related to peace and justice to younger students. Issues included differences and acceptance of others, as well as issues of poverty and disparity.

In the spring of 2018, Eric has plans to travel to Tunisia to work with his Oleander colleague Layla, to promote Oleander lesson plans and to connect their students.


Beirut, Lebanon

Aline implemented her Oleander activity at her school’s annual International Day celebration that included over 1,000 students, teachers, parents and members of their community.

peace parade in lebanon

In front of over 300 students, Aline gave a speech about her experience in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the dangers of nuclear weapons. She also emphasized the importance of bridging people and building peace.
aline speech
Aline utilized a multi-disciplinary approach at her school. She transmitted the story of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes to her class and worked in cooperation with the art department to decorate her students’ Japan kiosk with folded paper cranes as a symbol of peace.
japan kiosk

Tunis, Tunisia

Leila and Samia hosted a workshop entitled “Creating a Culture of Peace in the Classroom” at the American embassy in Tunis. The audience consisted of teachers of English and high school students.  Both teachers focused on creating a culture of peace in the classroom, discussing conflict resolution and teaching tolerance in schools.  Participants shared lesson plan ideas as well as interactive games for the classroom.


Ain Sebaa, Meknes, Kenitra, and Taza, Morocco

samia and youssef

UME is very proud of the Moroccan alumni of the Oleander Initiative. Samia (2016) and Youssef (2017) have teamed up with the AMA association and implemented a highly successful series of train the trainer workshops throughout Morocco. These workshops, which began in the Fall of 2016 have been gaining increasing momentum, notoriety and  support from the Moroccan Ministry of Education.

The Objectives of the “Creating a Culture of Peace” workshops are to:

1- explore the devastating effects of war on children who can be powerful agents for Peace

2- reflect on inner peace and its significance against violence as the best response

3- inspire around a culture of peace and try new practices needed to combat violence

4- be familiar with conflict and conflict resolution skills

6- manage emotions, feel empathy and take responsible decisions

7- be aware of the importance of peace, tolerance, and empathy

8- be responsible local and global citizens who can take decisions with a high degree of awareness and efficiency.

In Kenitra, Oleander alumni implemented a workshop entitled “Creating a Culture for Peace” in the classroom for approximately 30 Moroccan English teachers.


In Meknes, Oleander alumni implemented a train the trainer workshop for 60 teachers.


The principal administrator of the Meknes EFL community, wrote, “It has been an exceptional privilege and a great honor to have you among us. Please do, on your turn, accept our warmest thanks for choosing Meknes as one of your training destinations. I know that being ambassadors of your association good will is not easy and the distances you cover (from Japan to the US) to bring the culture of peace into being exceeds that of shooting stars! We are proud of you all and promise to give you our unconditional support for any further coming event.”


The Ain Sebaa workshop incorporated the arts by including two guest speakers – Malika Talib, a poet who shared a poem on Peace with the students and Douma Mohamed, an artist painter who directed a collaborative artistic activity leading students through a discovery of colors and their selves.



All of us at UME are looking forward to future updates from our Oleander alumni throughout the US and MENA region.





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