Regarding the meeting of today.
After seeing the excitement of the 1st encounter, we spoke with both of the teachers about their reactions. They both told us that the children were enthusiastic and even became friends through facebook and whatssap. Vered added that the kids were so thrilled that they have their own debrief last week which brought interesting points.
As we understood from Vered, the kids from the Jewish Keshet school tried to find “excuses” for the reason for the encounter to be so successful. Thus, their main reactions were that the other kids are not “real Arabs”, that they are not Palestinians and even that they are basically Americans. Furthermore, the kids said that real Arabs are supposed to be more violent, less polite and that if they would have discussed about politics the conflict would have been exposed and they would have made friendship with the other side. Lastly, the kids also said that the fact that everything was in English made them feel less confident as they could not express themselves but maybe more comfortable with the other side.
Therefore, we decided to focus today on stereotypes. In both groups we started with asking about memories from the encounter and the communication since then and even asked about the reactions from the surrounding including family and friends. Later, we moved into the main activity – we wrote “Arab” and “Jewish” and neutral terms as “American”, “African”, “Jerusalem School” on big papers and put them in different places in class while asking the kids to go around the papers and write words that come into their minds when they hear these terms. We also added a paper of “Me” in order to give the kids the options of presenting their identity as well.
Later, we wrote all the different words on the main bill board and asked the kids if they want to add something or to erase something from the different lists. We also asked if some of the stereotypes changed through the encounter and generated a discussion about how do we define who is a right representative of the other group and who is not.
It should be mentioned that while in the Jerusalem school we had a long discssion, in the Keshet school we decided to screen a part from the TV show “Arab Labor” / “Avoda Aravit” which presents the idea of changing identities and demonstrates the conflict between the personal definition and the social definition.
We now plan that over the next class, because I wil be abroad, Nairouz would continue more to discuss these ideas of definitions and identity and even go further into her own personal story.
Thank you for reading,