UK FRIENDS OF THE PERES INSTITUTE FOR PEACE

New Beginnings

To impart values of peaceful relations, respect, and mutual understanding among Palestinian and Israeli kindergarten-aged children through the creative and self-expressive media of theater and visual arts.

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    Categories

  • Arts/Culture/HeritageArts/Culture/Heritage
  • Community Support & DevelopmentCommunity Support & Development
  • Poverty Alleviation/ReliefPoverty Alleviation/Relief

    Helping

  • Children (3-18)Children (3-18)
  • Young People (18-30)Young People (18-30)

Location

Situation

The Peres Center launched the "New Beginnings" program in June 2007, delivering a series of Peace Education workshops for children aged 5-10 years that utilize the interactive media of theater and visual arts. The program is directed at groups of approximately 50 children – Palestinian, Israeli, and mixed Palestinian-Israeli groups – and is carried out in kindergartens, schools, youth centers, summer camps, and more. The series comprises three meetings: the New Beginnings performance and drama workshop, and two visual arts workshop. The initial element of the program is the New Beginnings performance, a dynamic, educational, theatrical experience, with a cast comprised of two professional actors, a Palestinian man and an Israeli woman. The performance simplifies the core messages of peace and mutual understanding for the young audience. Throughout the performance, Arabic and Hebrew are used both simultaneously and complementarily, creating positive associations with "the other". For some children, this performance represents the first time that they are exposed to the "other's" language through humor and other positive connotations. The second aspect of the New Beginnings program is the drama workshop, which is led by the Palestinian and Israeli actors, and which utilizes various theatrical techniques including emotional expression, voice methods, body and movement drills, and more. Finally, participants use the visual arts to digest, process, and express the messages that they learned through the program. The visual arts serve to greatly enhance the participants' comprehension of the experience, which can, at times, be very emotional and challenging. Accordingly, the Peres Center teams up with the Museum on the Seam – a museum devoted to the themes of dialogue and coexistence among different groups and sectors both within Israel and beyond – to deliver these artistic workshops. The New Beginnings program has been delivered to hundreds of youngsters. In the first few months, participants included children from the Bedouin communities of Ka'abiya and Bir El-Maksur, from Jenin, Hebron, Bido and Tulkarem City and Refugee Camp in the West Bank, as well as from Nazareth, and East and West Jerusalem. As of 2008, the "New Beginnings" program has also been delivered in Jaffa, Tamra, and Dar Salah. The sessions held in Dar Salah (near Bethlehem) were particularly well received by 160 Palestinian youngsters, who have limited access to cultural activities and rarely have the chance to see Israelis in any context other than as soldiers. The funds raised on The Big Give site will be used to sponsor two New Beginnings cycles in a Palestinian and Israeli community.

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