In early March, fellows of the Mandel Program for Local Leadership in Wadi al-Khalil held an intensive two-day retreat in the Haifa area, titled "Values: In Discussion and in Practice." The aim of the retreat was to explore different kinds of leadership, governance, and social engagement, and to look at how values are translated into action.
First, the fellows visited Kfar Kama and its Circassian Heritage Center, where they encountered the fascinating story of the Circassian people. The fellows heard about the immense suffering and experience of genocide of the Circassian people, and about their journey to Israel and resettlement in villages there. The fellows met with Zacharia Nabesu, the head of the local council, and heard about his managerial leadership style, which emphasizes order and clear rules as the basis for developing and nurturing community.
The rest of the retreat was held in Haifa. The fellows visited the Khalisa neighborhood in the lower city. There, neighborhood representative Yoav Bar spoke to them about the grass roots leadership that is emerging from within the neighborhood and the residents' associations. Bar described the difficult and complex experiences residents faced in the fight for equal rights in the city, as they advocated for investment in neighborhood education, in infrastructure, and in improving the quality of life of neighborhood residents. The case of the Khalisa neighborhood demonstrated to the fellows the importance of local, largely-independent initiatives for change. The activity of the neighborhood residents showed how non-establishment leadership, which is emerges from the field and mobilizes locals to action, drives change.
On the second day, the group visited The Vine, a Jewish-Arab cultural center. They met with Asaf Ron, director of the center, saw an exhibition, and heard about efforts to bring Arab and Jews together in Haifa. They also participated in a fascinating meeting with Shahira Shalaby, faculty member of the Mandel Center for Leadership in the North, who spoke about her public and social activity aimed at making Haifa a shared city, rather than a "mixed" city. Shahira taught the group about "integrative leadership," which organizes residents and academics working for change in the city, while trying to bring on board and gain the support of members of local government such as council members and municipal officers. Shahira demonstrated the importance of combining efforts to change awareness, perceptions, and socio-cultural discourse in the city with the application of pragmatic changes in practice, in both schools and neighborhoods.
Over the course of the retreat, the Wadi al-Khalil fellows learned about different and diverse forms of leadership, and became a more close-knit group in which members share productive discourse with each other.