Project YOUTH FOR CULTURE, YMCA, JULY 6 – 16
This group was constituted of the best participants to the various YMCA dialog groups of the last 2 years.
To raise the profile of the Jerusalem YMCA and its inter-communautary work, a multicultural event was being organized by this group. The event was supposed to take place on September at the Jerusalem YMCA. The group was led in its work by Shira, facilitator of the « Piece of Peace » group and well experienced in events organization, and Moona who came in 2009. The trip to Switzerland allowed the group to reflect upon the dialog necessary to the organization of this first event.
They met with Renaud de Wattewille, a well known name in Switzerland for his event management career, to discuss their project so far, and got a Public Speaking training. They alternated dialog sessions and relaxing time and also spent four days in Arolla in the Valais region.
The farewell evening of Sunday 15 allowed everyone to get to know better this shining yet grounded group.
Project BREAKING THE ICE 2012, MONT-BLANC TOUR, AUGUST 23 – SEPTEMBER 6
"Breaking The Ice" is based on a simple idea: out there in the mountains, solidarity and trust in each other are the conditions of survival. Getting a mixed group to face together the objective dangers and the aridity of the mountain environment should also allow for the emergence personal relations and challenging the negative representations of the Other. This project is established in partnership with the Haifa University, whose responsibles are concerned by the lack of contacts between Jewish and Arab students. Since 2010, groups of eight to twelve young Jewish Israelis and Israeli Arabs, boys and girls, have been selected by the university, physically and psychologically trained, then sent to Switzerland accompanied by professionals of group dynamic. They spend two weeks in the Alps, an opportunity to walk together, face cold, rain and wind together, sleep together and learning to stand each other (snorers know no nationalities...). Once back at home, they commit to inter-communautary activities, including presenting their experience at the university, thus helping to spread the word about the program and recruit the participants of the following year.
"Breaking The Ice" is in its third year. Like last year, it involved a trekking in mid altitude mountain while camping in self- reliance. 2012 like 2011 has been plagued with a much mitigated weather, not to say terrible at times, the walks having had to happen under heavy rain shower, and even at times snow. The circuit took the group from la Fouly going through the Italian Val Ferret, walking up the Val Veny, cross the French border at the Col de la Seigne, to end the trek in Chamonix. It was thus a half tour of the Mont Blanc, guided again by Denis Ducroz and Jean Troillet. We’d like to underline once more the very strong symbolic force for the participants to cross borders void of any check points, police and soldiers...
Upon their return to Israel, most of the participants have kept contact, taking part in debriefing meetings as planned; they have presented to various audiences their experience, have met again at various excursions they organize together in the desert. Some of these youth have shared with us how much their participation moved them, radically alternating their vision of the other side. A couple was formed, she an Arab, he a Jew, who didn’t know each other before. In the perspective of the Middle East conflict, these are drops in the Ocean one could be tempted to say. But the motto of Coexistences is that every action that leads to closing the gaps between the antagonistic parties is worth it, however modest it might be, if only for the personal benefits the participants derive, and also because no one can fathom the trickling effects such awareness could trigger.