State-wide Student Seminar, 7-8 December 2012, Nordiya Guesthouse
The Campus-Community Partnership and Mahapach-Taghir held the seventh annual student seminar at the Nordiya Guesthouse. The seminar brought student activists, and those interested in social change together in an atmosphere that fosters dialogue and collaboration directed at social and political change.
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One hundred and fifty students and activists from academic institutions around the country participated in two days of workshops and activities focusing on knowledge and skills pertinent to social activism.
The seminar was preceded by months of preparation, which included regional meetings designed to bring student from different communities together to engage in dialogue, exchange knowledge and brainstorm. These meeting took place in several student communities, among them Sderot, Jerusalem, Mrar, Tamra, Kiryat Shmoneh, Tel Aviv and Tira.
In addition, meetings of the seminar’s steering committee were held throughout the country on a monthly basis. This committee, which consisted of students and representatives of various organizations, was responsible for planning the seminar, selecting materials from the many proposals for lectures and workshops that were submitted by students and organizations, and dealing with dilemmas that arose in the process.
The seminar commenced with a plenary lecture by Dr Daphna Golan, Director of the Campus-Community Partnership on the subject of “Learning from Doing – Education and Social Change”. The lecture was dynamic, with active participation of the students, introductions, and sharing of experiences and visions for the future. The second part of the lecture presented the three main explanations for inequality in education based on three waves of feminism. The first, based on liberal feminism focuses on structural and budgetary discrepancies in the education system in peripheral towns and Palestinian villages. These discrepancies ultimately result in disparities in learner achievements. The second is the based on the second wave of feminism which focuses on the role of women teachers and the ways of knowing and teaching. Analyzing the education system from the point of view of teachers and criticizing ways of teaching, the lecture presented alternatives to the ways which are considered successful. The third wave of feminism suggests questions of class and race and thus the ways children and youth relate to and connect to the material studied was discussed. The lecture analyzed various positions apropos the inequities and ways in which the education system can address them, emphasizing the students’ role in bringing about change.
Over the two days of the seminar, dozens of workshops were held on a variety of issues, including feminism, socio-economic rights, Palestinian history and the Nakba, militarism, education, gender, social justice, student activism, etc. Parallel sessions, at least one Arabic session in each time slot, enabled participants to choose between workshops. The program is attached in Hebrew and Arabics.
Apart from the students who lead and facilitated workshops, civil society organizations who contributed a workshop to the seminar included: The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, New Profile- Movement for the Civilization of Israeli Society, Women Against Violence, Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Co-Councling, Maa'barah, Zochrot (Remembering), Havruta – Religious Gays. The New Student Union, Combatants for Peace, Aswat- Palestinian Gay Women, Amnesty International- Israel, Tarabut-Hithabrut: Arab- Jewish Movement for Social and Political Change, Shatil- An Initiative of the New Israel Fund Approximately half the workshops were given by participating students, who brought their knowledge and experience in social activism to the occasion.
The workshops provided these students with an important platform for practicing the conveying of materials, peer education and forming personal connections. The other half of the workshops were given by representatives of various social change organizations and academic faculty members. This combination of student, faculty and organizational lecturers constituted a unique opportunity for engaging in activist discourse and promoting collaboration.
On Friday evening, after a shared meal, the students enjoyed a variety of social activities, from a coffee shop where students could meet one another and discuss issues important to them to spontaneous activities initiated by students, such as playing music and dancing. The Evening as the whole seminar was planned to fit students who observe Shabbat as well as religious Muslims.
Towards the end of the seminar, the film Bodrus was screened. A documentary film about a Palestinian community organizer, Ayed Morrar, who unites local Fatah and Hamas members along with Israeli supporters in an unarmed movement to save his village of Budrus from destruction by Israel’s Separation Barrier. Success eludes them until his 15-year-old daughter, Iltezam, launches a women’s contingent that quickly moves to the front lines. Struggling side by side, father and daughter unleash an inspiring, yet little-known, movement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories that is still gaining ground today. In an action-filled documentary chronicling this movement from its infancy, Budrus shines a light on people who choose nonviolence to confront a threat. While this film is about one Palestinian village, it tells a much bigger story about what is possible in the Middle East. Ayed succeeded in doing what many people believe to be impossible: he united feuding Palestinian political groups, including Fatah and Hamas; he brought women to the heart of the struggle by encouraging his daughter Iltezam's leadership; and welcoming hundreds of Israelis to cross into Palestinian territory for the first time and join this nonviolent effort. The film contributed to a successful and positive conclusion to the seminar.
The seminar concluded with a summary and feedback plenary session moderated by Liron Azoulay, Co-director of Mahapach-Taghir and Najwan Khatib, coordinator at the Campus-Community partnership. Students’ responses were positive and many noted that the seminar had been inspiring. Other stated that the workshops were varied and interesting, and that Arabic had been suitably represented both in the workshops and printed materials distributed, and that the social atmosphere was good, etc.
The seminar was a one-of-a-kind activity that brought together many students and activists from organizations all over the country, providing them with a rare platform for activist dialogue in an open and secure environment. We hope, in the wake of this successful seminar, that we managed to create a space that facilitated thinking, dialogue and cooperation that will raise awareness and social involvement among students, and also trigger new ideas for connections and collaborative projects in the future.