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April 30, 2012 11:40 a.m.

Olive Tree Initiative kicks off weeklong series of events ยป

OTI group on Turkey-Armenia trip in March
UCI's Olive Tree Initiative is hosting a week of campus events to raise awareness of its work in the Middle East and Turkey and Armenia. The group has led six trips to the Middle East - primarily Israel, the West Bank and Jordan - exposing students, community members and faculty to diverse points of view on the Middle East conflict. The program recently applied its philosophy and conflict resolution model to Turkey and Armenia. From Monday, April 30, to Friday, May 4, the organization will host an information booth on Ring Mall. Highlights include lessons in Hebrew and Arabic on Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and lunchtime sales of falafel. Students who traveled to Turkey and Armenia with the group in March (pictured) will reflect on their experience in a "welcome back" ceremony at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 8, in the UCI Student Center's Emerald Bay Room B. "We are now looking at trips outside the Middle East in order to give students, community members and faculty a direct experience with different conflicts around the world," said Daniel Wehrenfennig, the Olive Tree Initiative's executive director. UCI students from Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Druze and nonreligious backgrounds founded the OTI in 2007 with help from the School of Social Sciences' Center for Citizen Peacebuilding. The group now has chapters at UCLA, UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara, UC Berkeley and San Diego State University.

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