Friends of the Earth Middle East’s Yearly Youth Camp
As part of FoEME’s Good Water Neighbors youth program, yearly camps are organized that bring together youth from neighboring communities from Jordan, Palestine, and Israel to learn about their shared environment. This year, the camp was held in Alon Tavor Field School at the foot of Mount Tavor in the lower Galilee. Unfortunately, this year the Jordanian youths were not able to obtain visas to attend the camp and so only Israeli and Palestinian youths participated. Arrivals began on Sunday morning, and everyone was asked to create a nametag using three languages (Hebrew, Arabic and English) and was given a T-shirt and water bottle. The group discussed camp objectives and rules, and then broke off into five smaller groups in which participants chose between art, music, drama, eco-building and social media for building a campaign.
The second day workshops were held using these themes to build a joint message about water. In the social media workshop, students learned how to create a Prezi presentation. Youths were put in mixed groups of two or three and given a computer. After learning the basics, students designed the presentation with their chosen theme: SW = save water, stop war, same world. In the music workshop, students worked together to write lyrics for a song that was performed in both Hebrew and Arabic. Some students played instruments that they had brought from home. In the drama workshop, students performed in a play that illustrated how the choices that people make affect our water sources. The group
used a playback technique to involve and incite dialogue with the audience. After performing the play a first time in which the actors made choices that negatively affected the water quality of a river, the play was performed a second time with suggestions from the audience on how to make better choices. In the art workshop, students painted on a large canvas the tale of two rivers: one clean, and the other polluted. The final piece of art was put on display for campers to look at and discuss. Finally, the Eco-building workshop taught students how to design structures that conserve water and use recycled materials. They showcased their work in the garden where they could present what they had learned to other campers.
After our camp carnival, in which all groups presented their work, the group departed for a tour of Akko, a historically important port city on the northwest coast of Israel. The city streets are a reminder of that past, with a stone caravanserai, fortress and walls that are still intact. We walked until we reached the harbor, where we embarked on a sailing trip. The choppy waters didn’t prevent a dance party from forming in the middle of the boat, complete with dabqe, gangnam style, and the macarena. Before saying our goodbyes on the last day of camp we traveled again by bus for a group hike in the Senir Stream Nature Reserve, the Senir Stream being the longest tributary of the Jordan River which originates from the Hasbani Springs in Lebanon. The hike was a wonderful end to the camp that brought our youth together!
This story was contributed by Amman office intern Brittany Ajroud.