When plan B becomes plan C, D, E..?

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Jasmyn from the Netherlands writes about the need to improvise during the summer school:

Problem solving skills were challenged greatly this year at AEI’s summer school. Thanks to a lot of flexibility, creativity and of course the spirit of sumud of both the youngsters and the staff, we can however look back at two joyful and educational weeks.

In the Holy Land you’re never sure what the next day will bring. Last-minute changes are no exception. This was proven once more by the turbulence of the last month, arising from the tragic incident of three Israeli youngsters that went missing near Hebron. The large-scale safety measures and search that followed, heavily impacted the program that the AEI had scheduled for the summer school, as can be read in Toine’s column.

One full week of the program was wiped out. Trainers from Gaza were supposed to visit us at the AEI, giving workshops in creating an animation cartoon film. However, just before takeoff their permit to leave Gaza was cancelled and so was the training of filmmaking.

The photography project that was planned for the remaining week was also subject to major changes. The aim of the project was to explore and better understand the value and meaning of the cultural heritage of the Holy Land. The art of photography would encourage the youngsters to do so, since it invokes a different approach. In the end an exhibition would be made out of the 40 most powerful pictures, selected by the teenagers themselves. The project required day trips to different places in the West Bank. With thousands of Israeli soldiers controlling the area, the options to travel became however suddenly very limited. Hebron was completely blocked and the container checkpoint between Bethlehem and the rest of the West Bank was crowded and tense, if not closed. Worried parents preferred their kids not to travel there.


Luckily the hills around Bethlehem turned out to contain some hidden treasures well worth to visit and test our photographic skills. Amongst others St. George and the Solomon Pools in Al Khader were explored, as well as the phenomenal cliff on which Mar Saba monastery is built in the Judean Desert. Furthermore we crossed Wadi Qilt and Jericho from our to-do list.

The day trips were hot but exciting and the youngsters enjoyed exploring the heritage through the lenses of their digital cameras. Beautiful pictures were taken, together with many crazy, funny and joking ones and – hello generation 2000 – a bunch of selfies. We filled the gaps in the program with analysing the pictures and formulating suitable captions. It was a good challenge to think ‘outside the box’, finally resulting in some great works. Furthermore traditional school activities like sports, drawing and games helped to successfully kill some lost hours here and there.

After two weeks activities, the Sumud Festival formed the cheerful final of the summer school. Together with all the creative works and performances of the other groups, a selection of the photos was presented at the exhibition hall. The youngsters were proud to see ‘their work’, printed on big sheets, visible for the crowd. Visitors were impressed by the pictures and the messages they represented.

After all plan E..? F..? no G turned to work out very well!

2 July 2014


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