On the afternoon of Thursday the 13th of March, we went to the Terra Santa School for another interesting session. We were not the only ones excited about the session, but the students were as well. After the previous (first) session we had with them, they were so eager to attend again and some even stopped us on the roads of Jerusalem to ask us the date of the upcoming session.
During this session with 20 students, we focused on teamwork and spirit, followed by the importance of trust and communication between group members. Due to the rainy weather, some of the students were not able to come; however, the good news was that new students joined in after hearing about the program from their friends/ classmates who attended before.
We started with the game, “Human Knot,” where they got their hands held to each other into knots and had to use verbal communication and movement to untangle and make a circle (without letting go of hands). We used this game as a warm up for the upcoming activity, which was on “community.” We then split the students into 2 groups and gave them the questions: What are the negative aspects of your society/neighborhood? How can you change it? What is your role to change it?
The students then had a discussion amongst themselves; we joined in as well, but only to facilitate and not to give them answers. We took note of the answers in order to get to know the children more. They discussed the first question and wrote the responses on a flipchart, and then the following questions were answered through a small sketch that the students prepared, the first group chose the issue of the “Israeli checkpoints” issue and how to find a way as Palestinians to organize ourselves, and do something about it.
The second group chose Christian-Muslim relations highlighting some problems they experienced in their communities, and both groups at the end gave a summary about things in reality and how they would like to change it. This method allowed the students more freedom to express themselves.
Afterwards, each group went to an activity: the recycle workshop and the basketball session. Each group had a total of 40 minutes and then they switched sessions.
In the recycling session they made garbage cans out of old magazines and glue. Such crafts, taught by volunteers, required the students to work together in a group. The basketball session was quite challenging due to the fact that it was rainy and we could not use the outdoor court; instead we used the big hall in the school and turned it into an indoor court. The basketball trainers are closer to the children and were able to teach them the game and the message behind it.
We also had debriefing, reflection on the game and on what it helped them realize. Their responses included trust, friendship, and importance of communication between two people and in a group in general.
Through the school program we are hoping that the feeling of belonging and affiliation towards their own community will be enhanced, as well as their awareness with regards to social justice and connection to their society while concentrating on the positive side.
We asked the students for feedback and if they had learned anything. Their answers were:
“We are learning so much, who knew that basketball was more than a game?”
“It’s fun to know that we can use things we already have instead of buying new things.”
“We learned more about society, community, and it helped me realize that I have an important role in change.”
“I can’t wait to see what we will be doing next week.”