Sunday, 10 February 2013 12:20

Outreach Program Report

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The Arab Educational Institute – Open Windows

Youth Media House

Outreach Program Report


AEI held a 2-day workshop on 19-20January, 2013 in Nahaleen/Tent of Nations, and the Bethany and Jericho areas. 


The aim was strengthening the relations between the youths in the city and the villages, and, within the AEI groups, to become more familiar with each other. The aims were attained by


  1. 1.Organizing ice-breaking games
  2. 2.Developing cultural and educational products
  3. 3.Making interviews about daily life of youth, discussing Palestinian youth issues, Palestinian youth and travel, exam pressures due to exams, hopelessness and frustration because of the Arab Spring turning into Winter
  4. 4.Writing and reading wishes and prayers during a Holy Mass.


       The participants were from five groups of the AEI:-


  • The Kids Group.
  • The High School Group.
  • The University Group.
  • The Mixed Employees Group.
  • The Female Employees Group.


The attendees were 45 youths of ages ranging from 10 to 30 years and from various religious and social backgrounds.


The working journey began with a visit to the Tent of Nations. On the way, a Christian and a Muslim wrote and read prayers. During the walk and talk activities at the destination, the participants took some photos of nature, like the wild flowers and trees, and also of the settlements that surround the Tent of Nations - an agricultural enterprise with regular international and local visitors.


Mr. Daoud Nassar, the owner of the land, welcomed us and gave a presentation about his sumud (perseverance) story of non violent resistance against Israeli attempts to expropriate his land. He said “Our mission is building bridges between peoples, and between nations and their lands. We bring people from different cultures together in order to build bridges of understanding, reconciliation and peace”. “We refuse to be enemies”. He encouraged us as Palestinians to stick and be steadfast on our land.


Later on, Rojer Salameh, AEI’s Youth Coordinator, divided the participants into two groups: the kids and youth from the AEI together with the local and international volunteers of the Tent of Nations. In the ice breaking games they had fun, and afterwards prepared social and cultural performances with singing, dancing, and playing. 

A few oral interviews were held about the daily life of Palestinian youth.


1. Ibrahim Awadallah – from Wallajah talked about the most important youth problem in his village: sexual harassment.


2. Mohammad Sha’llan – from Bethlehem spoke about the Arab Spring and the Palestinian Spring and how Palestinian youth looked at it.


3. Mahmood al Zeer – an MA student in Physics at Al Quds University and a citizen of Tequoa village east of Bethlehem commented on the project applied at the Tent of Nations such as using solar energy for producing electricity and digging wells for storing rain water.


4. Adel Ayesh – from Artas village relayed his experiences and impressions at the Tent of Nations.


5. Lina Abed Rabbo – from BeitJala talked about her youth experiences and gave suggestions for applying non violent actions within the Palestinian community, especially through the local media, the school curriculum and the religious sermons at churches  and mosques.


Later, the participants took part in digging the land and planting pomegranate trees.  


After that, we travelled back from the south of Bethlehem to Bethany town east of Jerusalem, to the Vision Association for Arts and Culture. On the way, the participants learned about the different villages east of Bethlehem. They heard stories from boys and girls who live in these places about their traditions, folklore and diverse heritage. The visit started by sharing lunch and mingling with the children and youth of Al ‘Azzariyeh or Bethany. Both institutions gave presentation and especially about their aims, expectations and output of the outreach program.


Later on, the two groups held joint workshops and carried out different social and cultural activities:


1. An arts workshop for children.

2. Learning and playing guitar with AEI’s Magic Four group and the music trainers of the Vision Center.

3. A Dabkah group workshop.

4. An Arabic calligraphy workshop.

5. A football match was played between the AEI & the Vision Center, learning about winning and losing.


At the end of the joint activities, a final performance was held:


1. A collective folkloric dance. 

2. Guitar playing and singing.

3. The Magic Four Group sang rap songs.

4. A dabkah dance performance.

5. A brief evaluation of the outreach program.


Afterwards, a short tour of the village ended our visit to Bethany.


At the Golden Park Hotel in BeitSahour, at night, a social cultural gathering was held. After small group discussions, we came up with the following:


1. Three girls wrote, narrated and acted out a real story which happened with a foreign woman who talked about the boycott of Israeli products.  After that a lively discussion followed. 


2. Two girls and a young man played out and discussed an incident of sexual harassment.


3. Two young men and one girl acted a silent drama about a love story.


4. Two boys wrote a script about a corrupt employer and an applicant. They presented a short drama sketch about corruption and bribery (Adel Ayesh – from Artas village and Mahmoud Al Zeer – from Toquoa).  


5. A story about an employee was written by Moreen Murra and Tagreed Saad.


6. A story about municipality elections was told by Moath Abedrabbo – from Al Doha Village west of Bethlehem.


7. A rap song script was written by Jimmy Lama – A student at Bethlehem University.


The second day was in Jericho. On the way to Jericho, some boys and girls narrated stories from our different religious heritages, especially the Biblical parable, “The Good Samaritan.”The participants sang, recited poems and made jokes. In addition, the youth and children got some information about the historical and religious sites in Jericho. We participated in the Holy Mass at the Franciscan Church. Fr. Mario Hadtchity - the Parish priest of Jericho, welcomed the AEI youth groups. Four of our girls wrote and pronounced wishes and prayers during the religious service. After the Mass, our youth mixed with the youth of the Christian community in Jericho and drank coffee and ate some sweets.


Then we headed to Banana Land, a recreation center, in the middle of the citrus and banana orchards of Jericho.


There our children and youth had lunch and spent the afternoon with playing, singing, dancing, having fun and mixing among the youth coming from different towns and villages of the Bethlehem area. They included boys and girls scouts of Don Bosco and Terra Sancta in Jericho.


Here are some of the activities held in Jericho together with the local youth:-


1. Outdoor sports football matches.

2. Riding horses and camels.

3. Cycling.

4. Walk and talk.

5. Water games.

6. Imitating teachers. 

7. Interviewing and filming.


The videos produced as a result of the interviews included:


a. Ibrahim Awadallah from Wallajah talked about sexual harassment.


b. Mohammad Sha’llan about the Arab Spring and the Palestinian spring and how the Palestinian youth look at it.


c. Mahmood al Zeerof Tequoa village spoke about the benefits and shortcomings of youth cultural exchanges and highlighted the hospitality problems Palestinian youth experience during home stays in the west. He composed and recited a poem on this issue. 


- Some evaluatory remarks:


1. I enjoyed a lot the cycling though it wasn’t enough.

2.The program was lovely, relaxing and fruitful.

3. The atmosphere and the environment at the Tent of Nations were amazing.

4. The food wasn’t enough except at the Hotel.

5. The outdoor games, especially the football match at the Vision Association were a very special experience for me.

6. The richest and most unique learning experience to me was the Arabic calligraphy workshop.

7. The themes that were discussed were very rich and suitable to our age.

8. The religious service and the rich homily of the parish priest about the renewal of our faith were very touchy especially as it came from a young priest.

9. I missed the first half of the activities because I was at school under the exams pressures of tawjihi.

10. The singing performance by the Magic Four was great.

11. This 2 day workshop with all its activities was the most enjoyable. They are better than those of my school. Also it is my first time to sleep outside home.

12. I enjoyed sleeping at the Golden Park Hotel though I and my friends couldn’t sleep as we were having fun and pleasure till the early morning.

13. I was happy to be interviewed but unfortunately I failed to stand in front of the camera to be filmed.

14.  The rap song script I wrote and read to my youth leader helped me to express my feelings and overcome shyness.

15. I have been more involved in taking leading roles in the planning and implementation of the Dabkah, and the singing and drama activities. This help me to improve my leadership skills in a practical way. 

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