"What If I were you, and you were me, and we could talk about things that hurt us without hurting each other?" The "LAOU - What If" program will use proven arts-based techniques to reduce cultural conflict and build new bridges of communication between Syrian refugees in Lebanon and their hosts. Community youth will become society's change-makers by using creative conflict management tools to open dialogue and improve cultural understanding, leading to greater social stability and cooperation.
In one LAOU Lebanon session, children were asked what they want to be. One 7 year-old girl said "this is difficult for me because I don't know if I will grow up." Nearly 1M Syrian youth reside in Lebanon, dislocated from a future they imagined. Overwhelmed communities demand programs that encourage social stability, conflict transformation and cultural tolerance. ATC believes youth can be a force for peace and positive change but first they need to address the conflict within themselves
ATC uses strategic arts-based methods to transform conflict. LAOU ("What if?" in Arabic) is an Interactive Theater presentation through which members of refugee and host communities engage in guided dialogue on difficult topics, including: women's financial empowerment, child labor, gender-based violence and bullying. Successfully piloted in 2015, LAOU creates a safe space for conversation, guiding participants towards mutual tolerance and respect through an understanding of the 'other'.
During the pilot, one young man came to us and said "Please come back - we need what you gave us!" Now through a 3-month LAOU series in partnership with ABAAD, a well respected local NGO, ATC's local team will help 500 youth become tomorrow's change-makers by fostering a self-sustaining culture of positive engagement and dialogue. Through Interactive Theater participants will be trained in creative communication and conflict management skills that are rooted in their own cultural identities.