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Hand in Hand Leaders at the American Federation of Teachers National Conference

The AFT annual conference brings together education and other helping professionals from all around the U.S. to network, exchange expertise, and promote shared values.

Hand in Hand was invited to take part in the AFT national conference in July 2023, bringing over a delegation with our Executive Director, principals, and Education Department directors. The invitation came from AFT President Randi Weingarten, with whom Hand in hand has a longstanding relationship built on shared values and a passionate belief in the ability of education to change society. 

The Hand in Hand group arrived in the U.S. a few days before the conference, taking part in a guided tour of the Capitol Building and visiting major monuments and museums. The group chose to spend time at sites like the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, the Vietnam War Memorial, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, all of which were meaningful and moving experiences.  

The night before the conference, our group was warmly hosted by American Friends of Hand in Hand Board Chair Stuart Brown and his wife Diane Solomon Brown, for a terrific evening at their home in Maryland. 

Bright and early the next morning the conference began. The Hand in Hand group took the opportunity to participate in workshops and discussions, and took home plenty of new ideas and learnings. Events on the agenda spanned a wide range of topics, including navigating grief, preventing violence, promoting inclusivity, and acquiring self-compassion. All of the sessions attended will help enhance their work as leaders and educators in bilingual, integrated, equality-driven educational spaces.

Hand in Hand was honored to lead a workshop as well. Kfar Saba Director Mohammad Kundos and Jerusalem High School Principal Efrat Meyer ran a session on how to educate children about the concept of identity, individual and collective, and the added challenges of navigating these discussions in diverse or even polarized environments. They explored practices to help navigate conflict, develop empathy, listen and self-advocate, and drew on experiences from the Hand in Hand classroom to spark dialogue on how we can learn from each other’s differences and similarities. 

The opportunity to participate, and even lead a session, is a significant one, reflecting the relevance of our work on a global stage and major recognition for the achievements of our educators.  Our delegation returned with fresh perspectives and ideas which will go on to benefit our classrooms, culture, and school communities.

Nadia Kinani, Director of the Hand in Hand Education Department, was part of our leadership cohort that attended the AFT conference. She shared:

This invitation is confirmation that Hand in Hand schools have an impact that goes far beyond the thousands of students, parents, and educators involved in our daily work. We are looking forward to sharing lessons and tools from our unique model with other educators committed to equality and social change. This trip allowed us to share some of our expertise and return with new insights and ideas ourselves, along with the possibility of new collaborations.”


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