Stanford doctoral student seeks peace through technology

The boy said the exchange between a soldier and a student became heated. Then the soldier lifted his gun and fired into the air. Some of the students threw rocks at the Israeli soldiers, the boy said, and the soldiers rounded up the students and beat them until a few students had to be taken to the hospital, the student said.

“Some of us won’t forget this for the rest of our lives,” the boy said, according to Buckner.

Another story is from a Palestinian fourth-grader who, along with two friends, learned that an area of the West Bank was now off limits.

The boys were herding sheep near an Israeli settlement when they were approached by Israeli soldiers, who told the boys they were too close. The fourth-grader stayed with the oldest boy, a 17-year-old, despite the teenagers’ pleas for the boy to run away as the soldiers approached.

“The younger generations are exposed to [increased] polarization among the two sides,” Buckner said, “so these stories are meant to help them think about the problems … and using [mobile technology] was an engaging way to do that.”

Mobile-phone usage in the Palestinian territories has risen in recent years, with eight in 10 households now having access to mobile devices, according to a report from the United States Agency for International Development.

Buckner said the Stanford-connected nonprofit group, Seeds of Empowerment, will make the children’s stories available for free on the organization’s web site.