Last month, students of the 9th grade at the WIZO Nir HaEmek Youth Village held their first meeting with students from the local school in the Arab village of Na'ura on the premises of the Yigal Alon House, on Kibbutz Ginosar – in the framework of a new ethical/educational project.
Shula Kfir, coordinator for the 9th grade, explained, "This project has already been successfully operating for a few years at the Yigal Alon House. These unique meetings allow for our students to make the acquaintance of students from the Arab community, who live nearby. The goal of the first meeting was to introduce both groups to each other, break the ice and start a dialogue. To our great satisfaction, that is exactly what happened; students form both schools enjoyed the experience, despite the delicate and tense situation in the country right now. The meeting's content and activities were provided by a representative of the Yigal Alon House. In the near future there will be more get-togethers like this one, at the youth village and at the school in Na'ura. In the coming weeks, additional grade levels will also hold similar events. The greater goal is to expand these meetings into various routes of communication and collaborative projects, which will include the students' parents as well. We believe that, through the students, we will be able to break down barriers and get to know one another, free from prejudice. These meetings prove that there is indeed a different path." Director of the WIZO Nir Haemek youth village, Esti Cohen, agreed with Kfir's comments about the importance of the project.
At WIZO Nir Haemek, not only coexistence but also environmental consciousness is alive and well. The youth village, which has always held social activism among its highest values, launched a new initiative which takes advantage of the fact that it houses an agricultural school. The initiative involved 10th grade students working a specially designated parcel. The students tilled, fenced and irrigated this land and then planted lettuce that had been donated by Gilad Kadishai, an agriculturalist whose son attends the school and who personally mentored the project. The lettuce, which should be ready for picking this month (March 2016), will be donated to Afula-area organizations combatting hunger. From now on, every year, students will use this plot of land to grow crops organically. The next phase of the initiative will have the students planting tomatoes, which will also be donated to the needy. Thus, the project perfectly combines two sets of values: those of organic agriculture and those of social betterment.
The students proved to be eager agriculturalists. "It's a great feeling to see the full utilization of existing resources for the benefit of important beliefs; there is great educational value in the fact that the donation that the students make is the result of hard labor," explains Nurit, the 10th grade coordinator. This is only the first of other similar projects planned at the youth village. Nurit adds, "I am happy to say that the administration sees great educational value in this type of activity and allows the staff of the youth village to brainstorm ideas and execute them."