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Youngsters from schools in Germany and Jerusalem visit WAS-NS

Thursday 11 June 2009, by Diana Webster

On June 3, 2009 the WAS-NS Group Visits Centre received student groups from Max Rayne Hand-in-Hand bilingual school, Jerusalem and Gesamtschule Weilerswist, Germany. Altogether 31 students participated, including 16 Germans, 9 Palestinians and 6 Jews. They were here to learn about the binational, bilingual educational system of the Wahat al-Salam - Neve Shalom school and the lifestyle of the village. For the students from Germany it was their first visit to the country. They were in Israel for a 10-day study tour with students from the Max Rayne School.

The visit of the German students followed an October 2008 visit to Weilerwist, Germany by 11 Israeli students and 3 teachers. It was the beginning of a friendship between young people from Israel and Germany - Jews, Germans and Christian and Muslim Palestinians. Together they made "living together in peace" the motto of their joint work. Friendship between people took precedence over partnership between the schools.

WAS-NS primary school teacher Reem Nashef met the group. She spoke about the village, the primary school, bilingual teaching, and the way in which realities outside WAS-NS are approached in the classroom.

In the morning before their arrival, the group had visited the separation wall to witness for themselves the stark contrasts between the way West Bank Palestinians and Israelis live and are treated. In visiting Wahat al-Salam - Neve Shalom, the teachers wished to expose the students to the practical potential for equality and power-sharing between Arabs and Jews within Israel. The exchange between three cultures and languages permitted the youngsters to confront their differences and prejudices. The teachers hoped to open the minds of the youngsters to the motto of “Living together, Learning together”.

The students toured the village, visited the primary school and the House of Silence. By this point, on a hot June day, the young people’s minds were drifting towards the swimming pool. So the day ended with the students of all three backgrounds laughing and splashing in the pool; making their new motto of living and learning together a reality.

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