Facilitators’ training program – Chechnya, Belgium, Israel, Palestine – 2009

Facilitators’ training program – Chechnya, Belgium, Israel, Palestine – 2009

Chechnya - 2009Sadaka Reut’s educational directors, Adi Maoz and Hana Amouri, led a training for facilitators who are to work with youth in Sadaka. The program was divided in 2; a local 6-day training with a total of 15 Palestinian and Jewish participants and a 12-day exchange in Chechnya, together with groups from Chechnya and Belgium who work in the field of political awareness and social change in the context of their respective conflicts. The program was supported by Pax Christi, Belgium.

Part one of training:Chechnya - 2009-2

Based on Sadaka Reut’s pedagogy, which uses political education as a means of promoting social change, the facilitators were trained through a bi-national process preparing them to work within the frameworks of Sadaka Reut.

In the course of the six days, the group met and exchanged personal stories, visions for the future and perceptions of social change. In the first day of getting to know one another, the group established the approach of ‘politics of identity’, better known as relating the ‘personal to the political’, an important educational approach used by Sadaka. On the second day, the group grappled with bi-national discourses, evaluating and discussing Sadaka Reut’s Mission and Vision statements.

Because an important educational methodology for Sadaka is to bring in outside sources, facilitators heard a lecture from Areen Hawari, a Palestinian activist who helped compose the ‘Haifa Declaration’, which is part of ‘The Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel’ documents, an insightful and relevant text. They also heard a lecture from Marcelo Wexler, a leading figure in the field of critical education (theory and practice), who spoke of the challenges in using this approach.

Probably the most fun was the day devoted to understanding how art can be used as a political tool. Facilitators in training participated in a theatre workshop which allowed them to express their emotions more openly, as well as become familiar with theatrical and artistic tools. The theatre activity brought the group together as they acted out scenes in which each person took turn being in a weak social position (minority, gender, socio-economic status, etc). The workshop was very helpful because it allowed the group to experiment with new ways of working, as well as experience emotions and content within the group in a non-verbal manner. Through expressing themselves in body language, the group broadened possibilities of communication to which verbal-dialog is limited.

Lastly, the group set out to learn about the Chechnya and Belgium conflicts in order to prepare for the summer delegation, which took place in Chechnya in collaboration with a Belgian and Chechnya group (part two of training).

Feedback from the trainings was very positive. One Jewish participant explained: “It was a very intensive process… issues surrounding the conflict were raised in a direct way and to me that was unique, different, real. A lot of honesty, from the facilitators and the participants. I learned a lot from what people said and from the lectures. In regards to the ‘Mission and Vision’ document, I literally felt that it was written in my words.” A Palestinian participant stated: “I enjoyed the training a lot; there are things in terms of training and process that were precise. This was experiential learning; I had fun, felt comfortable in the group and the discourse was on a high level.” The six day training proved to be productive and insightful, preparing the next group of youth facilitators for their trip to Chechnya as well as working with youth within Sadaka.

Part two of training:

The delegation in Chechnya lasted 12 days and three groups participated: Israel-Palestine, Belgium and Chechnya. During the exchange, the participants grappled with understanding the conflicts in each of the three areas. They also were able to work on art workshops which helped raised the issue of how to deal with the conflict with youth in their respective countries.

Chechnya - 2009-3Many participants felt that this delegation was very different and fascinating. Israel-Palestine participants are used to information campaigns where they go to other countries to explain the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to exterior organizations. However, in Chechnya, the group felt they were able to equally share and learn about conflicts from the other two groups, making the delegation more balanced, interesting and informative for all.

The Israel-Palestine group also appreciated the opportunity to step away from the situation in Israel-Palestine and more closely examine other conflicts happening around the world, such as the conflict in Chechnya. Throughout the course of the delegation, they observed that the Chechnya group dealt with their conflict and the issues surrounding it in an entirely different way than in Israel-Palestine. This was insightful for them, and was certainly a topic which participants returned to much in the course of the 12 days.

Overall, after meeting with people from both groups, Chechnya and Belgium, the Israel-Palestine group felt that the delegation was comprised of mature people with a desire to learn, be creative and bring about change. In the end, participants felt that the workshops helped them acquire useful tools that will further their work with their respective conflicts and help them grow individually.

One participant, Omri Gershon, who has worked with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for over three years with Sadaka Reut, felt that his experience in Chechnya was unlike any of the previous delegations he has attended. Learning about conflicts around the world, specifically in Chechnya was emotional and powerful for Omri. He says that he learned a lot about himself through the course of learning about other people’s experience with conflicts in different areas of the world. In closing, Omri states, “After a lot of ups and downs during the seminar, I must say in full confidence that it was the best and most inspiring seminar that I have ever taken part in.”

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