If you happened to be in the Santa Fe Railyard on one particularly delightful summer evening in August, you may have heard upbeat Middle Eastern music pulsing from the Farmer’s Market Pavilion. Perhaps that, or the smells of rich ethnic foods, would've enticed you to peer through the window. What a sight you would have seen.
At first glance, it would’ve appeared like teenage girlfriends simply dancing together. Only after stepping inside would you discover the rarity and beauty of what hundreds of Santa Feans were witnessing: young women from Israel, Palestine, and New Mexico, arm in arm with wide-smiled faces, forgetting for those few moments the war zones they left behind and embracing the joy and power of connecting through music and a shared passion for peace.
Tomorrow’s Women is a Santa Fe-based nonprofit celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2023! Hundreds of brave young women from Palestine and Israel have journeyed to Santa Fe for a one-of-its-kind empowering and healing summer camp. Through life-altering dialogue sessions and therapeutic art, the young women form unexpected connections, listen with compassion, and build leadership skills. They arrive as eager campers and return home as emboldened changemakers.
Santa Fe Prep senior Max Shapiro was on the dance floor that night. She and other high school students from across Northern New Mexico joined the Peace Ambassador program to learn communication and leadership strategies while focusing on community-based social justice. A deep dive into the Israeli/Palestinian conflict led to virtual interactions with peers in Gaza, a unique encounter itself. Max and others embraced quality time with the Middle Eastern campers, making art together and supporting honest, often painful, conversations about their realities back home.
“I learned how important it is to have empathy for people you don’t agree with,” shares Max. “I’ll never forget the personal connections I now have with these strong women across the world.”
The Santa Fe Community Foundation invited its community partners to submit stories related to its October topic of New Mexico Women & Girls.