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Report from the Youth Club (Nadi)

Tuesday 1 February 2011, by Ariela Bairey Ben Ishay

January 2011 Report

Nadi el Shabiba-Moadon Hanoar
What al Salaam/Neve Shalom Youth Center

A Dream Come true

Looking now at what is becoming "routine" at the Nadi this year, it seems unbelievable that with so little, with no backing of a youth movement or precedent of Bi-national and Bi-lingual informal educational structure, so much has been created. Seeing what the Nadi has become gives us a glimpse of how far we have come, and how much it can still become: the sky is the limit!

As the generations of community youth who spearheaded the Nadi move into early adulthood, the younger youth are growing up into a solid infrastructure that sustains their relationships and gives meaning to their afternoon lives together. It’s exciting to see that coming to the Nadi, taking initiative and exercising leadership are becoming natural for the youth, and it is inspiring that from an idea and a once-a-week activity center the premise is now bustling with activity for youth of all ages, with different groups meeting regularly several afternoons and evenings a week!

Since September the Nadi is busier than ever, and even in the afternoons when no structured activities are planned, many youth "hang out" around and in the Nadi, as it grows from a once-a-week anchor in their lives to becoming a second home, much more under their leadership, which is so vitally necessary for healthy development, especially during adolescence!
We have known all along that it was possible, we have seen the gradual growth of the center, and after years of believing, hard work and support from our donors, the Nadi today is a dream coming true!

Thankfully,
The Community Nadi Board of Directors

Dyana Shaloufe-Rizek, Ariela Bairey Ben Ishay and Noam Mozes (Steering Community Volunteer Board Members)
Vivian Rabia (Part-time outside Nadi Director)
Nur Nashef, Eden Ben Shabbat and Isam Hajaze (Steering Committee Youth Representative Members)

Following are some of the highlights of what is happening today:

Youth Leaders’ Activities and Roles

The senior youth at the Nadi participate extensively in activities for themselves and their peers, while leading the younger youth and serving as role models for them at school and in the afternoons. It is becoming clearer that in the 12th year (senior year) in high-school, the youth are very occupied with the school obligations and are less able to invest their time in the ongoing activities of the Nadi. In this report, by the senior youth we mean the 10th-11th graders, and mostly the latter. Following are the central roles the senior youth are taking in both leading the younger youth and participating in their own Nadi activities:

1. Leading the Young: Some of the senior group have taken volunteer leadership roles vis a vis the younger youth on a weekly basis: Rani Layous and Mona Boulus assist Dan with the 4th-6th graders learning circus arts; Esam Hajazi and Nur Nashef lead the 7th-9th graders. Nadi graduate Reem Haj-Yehia is still a favorite, as she moves into her third year of leading the youth and build quite a following! She is presently working with the 1st-3rd graders on weekly activities, having begun very successfully with 10th grader Maya Mark, who had to discontinue her leadership a month ago when the day switched from Thursday to Monday. She is waiting for a change in days because she dances on Mondays!

2. Activities for their group cohesion and leadership skill-building: Besides their work directly with their younger peers and perhaps to help support it, the senior youth are very active in their own group-building activities and socializing at the Nadi. It is a great pleasure that these youth are increasingly finding the Nadi to be their second home, more so than this particular group did in the past and certainly more than many groups their age have in the past. Last week, when we suggested the Ecological Re-cycling activity, one of the youth said: "Ask me if I have been home in the last few days. Not a day goes by when we are not here for some activity for ourselves, a meeting or the younger youth, or a meeting with you guys." He says this half joking and half worried that his studies will suffer, but with clear satisfaction and a sense of purpose and feeling of worth.

a. Artsbridge Bi-National Youth Project: The Artsbridge Palestinian-Jewish dialogue program under the leadership of Debbie Nathan continues to make the Wahat al Salaam/Neve Shalom Nadi it’s national and international base. Steering Committee member Dyana Shaloufe-Rizek (artist, group-facilitator and educator) continues to be the liaison for the project and its ongoing activities with the Nadi youth. The third group of 11th grade delegates from the community (Nur Nashef, Esam Hajazi, Jamal Hatib, Musa Karyani and Muhammed Najjar) spent a month last summer in Boston, together with 25 other Palestinian and Jewish youth from 6 other locations in Israel (Haifa, Jerusalem, Usefiya, ) and 3 West-Bank locations.

Of the community youth, all but Muhammed Najjar, who goes to the Orthodox Arab High-school in the nearby town of Ramle, attend the predominantly Jewish Tzafit regional high-school. What was new this year is that the 11th grade youth group from WAS/ NS Nadi was joined by a group of 5 Jewish youth from the regional high-school Tzafit, where most of the community youth study (Ziv Sobelman-Yeminfrom the neighboring kibbutz Harel, Naomi Levi from Bet Nir, Naama Kaddosh from Kfar Harif, Ron Sela from Kibbutz Kfar Menahem and Ofir Lubrani from Gan Yavne). From the Artsbridge perspective, their participation broadened the scope of the projects’ influence to the regional level. From the Nadi’s perspective, having other Tzafit youth at Artsbridge helped raise school awareness of the non-NS/WAS youth as to the complexity that our adolescents cope with as members of a cooperative Palestinian-Jewish Community and as carriers of the partnership ethos as they move back and forth between their bi-national and bilingual background and life and the predominantly Jewish monolithic society represented by Tzafit. The joint WAS/NS Nadi -Tzafit delegation increased the influence of our youth at the school and helped raise awareness both to the complexity of the conflict and to the importance of coping with it in a constructive way. This year four teachers from Tzafit will participate in the Artsbridge training for adult professionals. This is a direct result of the schools increased awareness to Palestinian-Israeli conflict and its influence on all our lives, to the contribution of our and other Tzafit’s youth to open dialogue.

The group was accompanied by two Nadi graduates, Amir Alkalak and Kerem Ben Ishay-Bairey, who travelled as Junior Counselors during the seminar in Boston, and joined the youth in the first ongoing workshop that took place locally in September at the Nadi in WAS/NS. Amir is presently studying Dentistry in Germany, and Kerem is in the 12th grade, working on her matriculation exams. Hopefully they will continue to contribute to the Nadi’s work as they grow up and move into the world.

b. Mondays with Omer Schuster, Omar Abdelqader and Andrew Gordon-Kirsch

What began last year as theatre-games led weekly by Nadi graduate Omer Schuster, has grown to include a broader scope of group-building activities, identity issues and conflict-management strategies, led jointly by three young adults. Three young men have been meeting regularly this year with the 10th and 11th graders. Omer and Andrew began working with the group together in September. They have had 15 meetings, focusing on group cohesiveness, communication skills and mutual trust. In the next stage, Omar joined the team, which contributed greatly because most of the group at this age are Arabs and we felt the group needed an Arab role-model and leader as well. The meetings have taken on a more serious nature, discussing issues of importance to the youth and to the leading team. Examples of the topics that have been significant are culture, self-worth and multiple individual and group identities. The group has expressed a desire to learn more about the conflict and about coping within and outside of the community with related issues of loyalty and solidarity.
Omer Schuster: Omer is 20 years old, grew up and went to school in the WAS/NS community and the primary school, went to high school at Tzafit and was part of the youth boarding school there. After high-school he was part of a special volunteer Arab-Jewish project bringing youth together on Meron / Al-Jarmaq Mountain in the Galilee. This is where he gained expertise in working with groups through drama. When the time came, Omer decided to refuse the draft to the IDF and began his alternative service by volunteering at a primary school in Jerusalem, helping children who have trouble in school. He recently stopped his civil service feeling that both educational like the military are discriminatory and racist. He works at places where he once volunteered, including the Nadi. Omer is preparing for his entrance examinations to begin undergraduate academic.

Omar Abedelqader: Omar is 19 years old and a student of Social Studies (towards Psychology, he says, but it could change) at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He is a graduate of the Jerusalem High School, and lives in the Arab town of Beit Zafafa, adjacent to Jerusalem. Omer and Omar were friends when his family lived in WAS/NS, and they stayed in touch after his family moved to Jerusalem. When Omer Schuster moved to Jerusalem for his national service, they began to live together. Abdelqader participated for two years in the YMCA Arab-Jewish Youth Program, and this motivated him to join Omer in leading the youth at the Nadi. He is a certified computer technician, and making music and playing football in his spare time: "I believe football is the solution to all the world’s problems," he smiles.

Andrew Gordon-Kirsch: Andrew is a Fellow of the Dorot Foundation, amd is doing part of his internship at the Nadi. He was a student of Middle-Eastern and Arabic studies at UCLA, lived in Cairo for a year to learn Arabic at the American University, and after learning basic Hebrew, is presently teaching himself more advanced Hebrew and looking for a tutor. Along with his many goals, Andrew aspires to become fully tri-lingual and to be proficient in the field of Palestinian Jewish relations. His youth-work experience is with outdoor education and experiential group work, taking groups out backpacking and surviving in nature, thereby building trust and group cohesiveness. Andrew met Omer through an old family friend and they hit it off.

c. Thursdays with Gal Deutsch (Beit Berl student intern):
Last year Gal Deutsch, a student of Informal Education at Beit Berl Academic College, chose our community for her site as practicum. She spent the academic year studying the community and mapping out its needs, from her perspective. After a few weeks under the guidance of Eyas Shbata, Executive Director of the Community, Dr. Ariela Bairey Ben Ishay was asked to be her liaison and academic guide in the community. Gal established her focus to be the youth in the community, and designed a program to meet regularly with the 11th graders and strengthen them both as a group and as youth exercising leadership in the community. Gal also travelled to Boston with the group to the Artsbridge Training (please see below), which served as an important bonding experience for her and the group, and assisted her in becoming a link between them and the community, outside Jewish and Arab youth in Israel and Palestine, and the international arena through Boston and the world of Art. This intensive experience also introduced Gal more intensively to the world of Palestinian-Jewish dialogue and partnership building, strengthening her familiarity, awareness and skills in the field.

This school year (since September) Gal has met regularly with the youth on Thursdays. It has been of great importance to meet with Gal regularly, both because she is a skilled group leader, she is young and motivated, and is very committed to them as a group. Gal comes from Shoham, a nearby town, and keeps close contact with the youth. She volunteers her time in a very responsible and professional way, and meets regularly with Ariela Bairey Ben Ishay to consult and focus her perspective.

Some of the important outcomes we see already: The Youth’s increased belief in themselves as individuals and a group that can have influence on Nadi policies and the perhaps even the larger community.

The Youth’s initiative in designing, painting and re-modeling the Nadi (as an expression of their sense of connection, participation and ownership of the Youth Center and its potential).

The Youth’s participation in Steering Committee meetings: It has been the hope since the inception of the Nadi that the senior youth participate in the board meetings. As a result of the work that Gal has done with the youth till now, there is increased trust between the youth and the Nadi adult leadership, and three representatives bring the youthful and energetic perspective to the bi-weekly meetings in ways that impact policy and give voice to the views of the youth.

By Gal:

About me:

My name is Gal Deutsch, I’m a senior student for informal education and social sciences at Beit -Berl College. I am active in various social issues, and engages in various activities with youth for a long time.

I first came to the village through my studies a year an half ago, as my practicum, for which I chose the young leadership program I facilate at the Nadi - the youth club in WAS-NS. 

I personally believes that through youth leadership development there is possibility for youth to become empowered and engaged leaders for social change, and this is the agenda i brought with me to the Nadi. 

About the program 

The Leadership Program is designed to increase peer support and leadership skills in order to help the youth group become young leaders in their community and especially in the youth club. The curricular framework is based on weekly meeting at the youth club (Nadi) and includes instruction sessions, working meetings with community officials and meetings with various groups outside the community for the purpose of joint learning from each other. 

The program started six months ago after the returning from the summer program of Artsbridge Organization in Boston. The group’s first goal was to set themselves a specific project wich they want to do as a group. From a deep connection to the Nadi the group chose to undertake the renovation of the place. 

The students are motivated through experiential active learning exercises emphasizing communication,teem work, engaging their community and other skills necessary to succeed in their group project. 

These days, after several months of activity the group has chosen its way, while recruiting adults from the community who believe and support them in their first and meaningful project

d. Youth Leadership Course: After completing the first two stages of the YLC (I. Intensive workshop at the beginning of the year; II. 2 Outdoor Group Building Skills training workshops ) we have entered the third stage of the training which includes a practicum (the Young Leader lead younger youth weekly) for half the group and bi-weekly group skills training for the whole group (professional ongoing training on Friday afternoons designed to enhance their group skills and provide a forum for discussing their work with the youth, sharing their successes and consulting about their difficulties). The ongoing training is jointly coordinated carried out by Nadi Director Vivian Rabia and community volunteer board member Ariela Bairey Ben Ishay.

This stage demands a high level of commitment and participation, or perhaps too high a level of both. After three successful encounters with community volunteer professionals in the field (Dyana Shaloufe-Rizek on the use of art in interactive group work, Omer Shuster on using theatre in group activities, and Ariela Bairey-Ben Ishay together with Vivian Rabia on group-building skills) and over viewing the planned program of 14 bi-weekly up-coming sessions with diverse professionals, the youth expressed this week their difficulty in sustaining continuity on the new bi-weekly model, and have expressed a desire to have longer and more intensive (concentrated weekends) rather than shorter bi-weekly encounters. We are presently re-organizing the 12 planned encounters to fit their needs and increase the participation.

3. Active participants in the board meetings: A very welcome development is the participation of three youth representatives in the Steering Committee meetings. Esam Hajazi, Eden Ben Shabbat and Nur Nashef participate in the bi-weekly meetings of the adult committee, bring the voices of the young and impact equally the decision making process on general Nadi issues.

The Drumming Group: Neriya Mark, who grew up before the Nadi existed, has been volunteering for the last year and a half and gathering the youth on Saturdays to learn the art of Drumming, especially as the tradition of drumming at demonstrations has become part-and-parcel of bringing life into activism and especially to demonstrating in Israel, Palestine and other parts of the world. Initially we received some drums from Rick Bausman from Drumworks, in the USA, and the youth have learned on then and continue to practice. A few of them were taken to a group in Toulkarim who needed a few for their own use. Recently the Nadi purchased a few drums that are designed for carrying on shoulder straps, because the other ones were to heavy and the youth could not take them for long walking demonstrations. On some occasions the Drumming Group have joined anti-war and anti-racism demonstrations, joining ranks with other drummers or accompanying WAS/NS demonstrators. On Saturdays they have lately joined and become a "staple" at the vigil in the town of Lod protesting the recent house demolitions which has left families homeless and destitute.

Ahdar- Yarok (meaning Green, in Arabic and Hebrew) Community Youth Project

Our long range plan is transforming Wahat al Salaam/Neve Shalom into a "green" community and becoming a center of Palestinian-Jewish cooperation on the mission regionally. The first step has been raising awareness and enthusiasm. We had hoped the program would pick up faster than it has, and had expected by now to have established the re-cycling center and the eco-system course. However, life has been more complicated that we expected, and it is taking longer than we thought. These are the three areas in which progress has been made, and we hope soon to be able to report more progress on the other related larger communal issues. Noam Mozes is helping the youth carry out this mission.

a. Raising Youth Knowledge and Awareness: Last Year’s activities that were led by Nadi graduates Taj Rizek and Shadi Lius, have been continued into the present through combined efforts of outside experts and local youth leadership. We begun the Environmental Leadership Program with the help of Mr. Tomer Yafe, an academic expert on ecology policy and recycling, with experience in establishing recycling plants in communal living set-ups. Tomer is also very experienced in outside environmentalism, sustainability and community service. Two meetings between Tomer and the 7th-9th graders have taken place, and a few planning sessions with the group’s Youth Leaders. The challenge has been to combine the meetings with enough social pleasure and interaction for the youth to continue attending, while still learning new material and feeling involved an engaged in the content. The groups members are still far from where they can lead the community towards ecological awareness and action. We are all still looking for the best combination of political involvement, significance and social enjoyment. We are convinced it can be found!

b. Second Hand Clothes Store: One practical idea the youth have thought up and initiated is a second-hand store where clothes they gather could be sorted into two kinds: one, clothes that are not fit for selling, and can be donated to the needy; two, clothes that can be sold for minimal prices, both to the community members and to people who visit the community (in groups or individually) on weekends. In the winter and spring, we have the sporadic visitors, the "Food Festival" in March, and in the summer we have visitors who come to the swimming pool or just to walk around, bike and hike.

The idea is twofold: to recycle clothes, toys, books, fashion accessories… and make use of used clothes and other items; to bring income to the Nadi to help pay for the upkeep and updating of the Nadi, as the youth make decisions w\about what to do and what to change.

The youth are beginning to organize the warehouse near the Nadi, are looking for shelves and other equipment to make it appealing and presentable to outside customers! Noam Mozes and Dyana Shaloufe-Rizek is helping the youth carry out this mission.

Circus Skills and Arts for the Younger Youth: Dan Grodizinsky, Social worker and Circus performer, has been meeting regularly with the youth of grades 1-6. He teaches them juggling, balancing and other circus arts and through their experience they become more confident together and more sure of themselves. The next stage is establishing a practical goal, a performance for them to work towards and a tangible expression of their growing skills. Two Junior Counsellors, Rani Layous and Mona Bulous, are key in the leadership for this project, as outside people often need help understanding both languages, and figuring out nuances of the group dynamics.
This group participated in the 40 years ceremony of WASNS
Some dressed in colorful clothes, came on crutches and walked among the guests.

Sprinkle some greeting WASNS cards with small drawing added.
They are planning to go public during the next food festival that will take place on March.

I hope I have not left out important details. If I have, I apologize. So much is going on, I promise to include it in the next report!

Fondly, Ariela Bairey Ben Ishay


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