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Dialogue through Artistic Expression

Sunday 19 July 2009, by Diana Webster

This summer from July 19th to August 9th four of your very own youth will be going to Boston College in Massachuetts, USA for three weeks. Artsbridge Institute, a non-profit organization founded in 2007, will host its third summer camp for about 15 Israeli and 15 Palestinian teenagers (15 to 18 year olds) to come together for the first time through facilitated dialogue sessions and collaborative art projects. This is the second time youth from the village have participated in the summer camp. This unique and creative project will help teenagers living within a conflicted area to connect, hear and exchange each other’s narratives.

Along with our young participants Dyana Shaloufi Rizek, a former art teacher at the primary school of WAS-NS and resident, will be joining the group in Boston. Dyana works with the younger generation of WAS-NS at the Nadi (the Youth club). The young kids were able to apply to this program through the youth club. This is a great opportunity for Israeli and Palestinian participants to create fine Arts, short films and develop photographs together. Throughout the three weeks each Palestinian is paired with a Jewish participant to foster dialogue between the two sides.

The Artsbridge experience does not end after the summer as there are partnership programs in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Wahat al Salam Neve Shalom, a partner with Artsbridge, had 4 participants of last years program volunteer for the whole year with the younger kids of the youth club. These kids served as mentors to the younger generation and everyone involved with the youth club has been very appreciative of their commitment. We can only hope they will continue to give their time to be a part of the club’s leadership and to weekly activities for the kids.

While taking part in the activities they learn to speak in a way that others can hear them, ask questions out of curiosity rather than judgment, listen with respect, and honor each other’s experiences through the artistic process. Time is also dedicated each day to recreational activities. Every piece of art and video made by these young participants becomes part of a traveling art exhibit and is shown at conferences, universities and various venues around the US, and eventually worldwide, connecting thousands of people to the experience throughout the year.

In these partnership programs, youth create artwork that expresses their fears, hopes, ideas and everyday experiences. Three times a year this art is exchanged between Israeli and Palestinian programs to create a dialogue using a strictly visual language. This year, over 140 youth are participating in the year-long programs.

The kids and Dyana are very excited to be going to Boston for three weeks. When they come back to the village they hope to share their experiences, tell of what they created and who they had met to the youngsters of the Nadi.

If find more information about the Nadi visit http://nswas.org/rubrique263.html To see where the short films and artwork of the NSWAS participants are on display, please visit http://artsbridgeinstitute.org to see the latest news.

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