One group surrounded by the idyllic river landscape of the Havel in the cozy Gollwitz Castle in Brandenburg, the other in 40C heat in the Incense and Spice Route Inn in the Moshav Tzofar in the Israeli desert. Our locations could hardly be more different!
We didn't know each other when we first met online this Friday afternoon. About the "I Feel You!" Telegram group on our cell phones, we exchanged selfies and short introductory texts - but who is really hiding behind these faces?
Nine young people from Germany - Carla, Lena, Lara, Luise, Chana, Lola, Naomi, Josi and Lilly - meet seven young people from Israel in this project - Ido, Omri, Maya, May, Daniela and Yuli. We call the project "I Feel You!" because we want to experience what life is like in a completely different country and a completely different culture. How does it feel to be a young person in Germany or Israel? What do we have in common? What can we possibly learn from each other?
It quickly becomes clear that there is a lot to talk about! The best way to do this is in breakout sessions in our Zoom meeting, where we can talk in small groups - about German-Israeli history, the Middle East conflict, the military service that all Israeli boys and girls do for 2-3 years, the Shabbat, about culture and music, and much more.
We also talk about how the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the lives of young people in both countries. Here in Germany we almost always have to wear masks during our weekend at Gollwitz Castle, keep a distance from one another and carry out self-tests every morning before the start of the program. It looks more relaxed in Israel - our new friends sit close together in front of their laptop and have all been vaccinated. Everyday life in Israel, and thus also the youth work of the Israel Scouts, has come back to life. We are talking about the fact that we will hopefully be able to be more freely together again in Germany at our next meeting in August.
Ido grabs the laptop and leads us through the camp in the desert - we see sand dunes, camels, goats, and meet an Arab employee of the camp, who cordially invites us to Israel. Everyone laughs and is amazed at the landscape - it looks so different! For the Israeli group, our tour through the palace garden with its large, old trees and the village church seems at least as exotic.
On Saturday we did a joint workshop on film and photography, led by Shai Levy, an Israeli photographer and filmmaker in Berlin. Over the next few weeks, the participants will shoot and cut home videos that describe the life of their new friends in the other country. The special thing about it: the clips of the German participants are interpreted and edited by their Israeli partners, and vice versa. The result will be home videos that individually describe the life of the other person in the other country. "I Feel You!" is the goal - the videos should enable us to empathize with the lives of others.
We are already very excited to see the results! For our next weekend get-together in August, we'll watch the videos together and share our experiences.
If you would like to take part in this or any other international youth meeting - please get in touch!