I spent two days last week getting my batteries re-charged. Between the election process, seeing the tumult in the world and other life stressors, I needed an infusion of positivity other than my wonderful family. I really didn’t know this particular conference would relieve my funk, but it did.
I’ve been a member of a group called The Alliance for Oral Health Across Borders for three years. I joined while I was President of American Friends of DVI because the group’s mission seemed in synch with my personal reason for being involved with the DVI clinic in Jerusalem which is Tikun Olam (repairing the world). I also love the ideas of “crossing borders” and action.
Thursday and Friday, nearly sixty members and representatives from oral health related venues such as academics, industry, organized dentistry, NGO’s and private practices from around the world met at The Harvard Club in New York to discuss the group’s future and direction. It was led by Dean Amid Ismail from Temple and Steve Kess from Henry Schein. Among the attendees were ten current or former dental school deans. Deans from the US were joined by their counterparts from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Kuwait, and Pakistan along with representatives from Kenya, Great Britain, India and universities like Harvard, NYU, Stony Brook, Columbia, Rutgers, Arizona, Case Western and San Diego. Organized dentistry was represented by the President Elect of the American Dental Association and the Secretary General of the International College of Dentists. We were joined by representatives and CEO’s from oral health related industry to map out an action plan.
We heard about an Alliance supported project and several potential platforms. We honed our mission and shared our visions and values in an effort to enable “change agents” that can help remove barriers, circumnavigate roadblocks and cross borders. Through participation in Alliance sponsored oral health projects in academics, special needs care and continuing education, we hope to plant seeds of peace in areas of conflict such as Israel/Palestine, India/Pakistan, China/Vietnam and the US/Cuba among others.
One of the ongoing programs is The Bridge For Peace program between The Hadassah School of Dental Medicine in Jerusalem and the Al Kuds University School of Dentistry of The Palestinian Authority. This project is ongoing and has provided a venue where students and faculty are regularly exchanged. Currently, twenty of Al Kuds’ faculty studied at Hadassah and it is projected to continue to increase. Talk about seeds!
Such stories of success across borders of conflict should serve to inspire us that there are glimmers of hope out there. The seeds need more nurturing to blossom!
I was honored to be in a room so packed with optimism and hope. I guess, for me, that was the antidote I needed.
My new partner in peace, Dr. Musa Bajali, Dean Al-Kuds U. Dental School. In background, Dean Amid Ismail of Temple U. speaking with Dean Jawad Behbehani of Kuwait’s Dental School
What’s your antidote? I’d love to hear from you.
To everyone’s excellent health, wellness and peace.