Last week, we shared Renana Gal’s stories about her Anatomy of Peace Curriculum sessions with PPI-ME’s Jewish Israeli teams. This week, we caught up with Palestinian facilitator Nissreen Najjar, who shared her experiences from the communities of Tamra, Jisr El Zarka and the Hand in Hand school in Jerusalem.
Located in the North of Israel, the city of Tamra is a beautiful, predominantly Muslim town. They twin with girls from Haifa, and they love getting together with them, especially when they get to host the Haifa girls on their home court.
I facilitate three girls’ teams in Tamra. All three teams have been devoted and enthusiastic both in basketball practices and discussions. They always cooperate and are eager to learn more about the Anatomy of Peace. Most also try to implement it in their daily lives and wait anxiously for me to come and listen to their stories. I recall one time, when one of the girls ran into a session, excitedly telling me that she created a Box (Arbinger language referring to a space where there is conflict) with one of her schoolmates, and she didn’t want to solve the issues with her. I asked her why, and she told me that the girl always imitated the way she dressed. I managed to persuade her to try and solve the problem, after she admitted that “building boxes with people is not the wisest thing…”
Jisr El Zarka:
If I needed to choose one team that really inspired me this year, it would be this one. I worked with a team of girls 9 to 12-year-old in challenging circumstances – Jisr is one of the poorest towns in Israel. Not only was the court in Jisr not proper, but at first we didn’t even have baskets.
Due to the absence of a proper education system in Jisr, the girls severely lacked reading and listening comprehension skills. I’ve faced those challenges by being flexible about our formal Anatomy of Peace curriculum, and adapted it to their abilities. Many of the stories they shared during curriculum sessions reflected the oppressive reality within which the girls live, which pushes women to avoid activities outside of traditional domestic roles. Being part of PPI-ME has empowered these girls tremendously by encouraging them to voice their desire for equality.
In addition, Twinnings with girls from the Jewish town of Hadera have always been exciting: The Jisr girls eagerly await Twinnings. Even though they do not speak the same language as the girls from Hadera, they enjoy playing with them and learning new drills.
Hand in Hand:
Wow—what a team! Sharp, intelligent and sophisticated, the Palestinian young ladies from Hand-in-Hand school in Jerusalem always surprise me with their deep observations regarding the curriculum materials. They analyze each concept on a personal, social and political level, always sharing their open-minded point of view with each other and me. On the level of sportsmanship, Anatomy of Peace helped them to do a better job as a team: to cooperate, communicate, and support each other in challenging times of games and exams. During the conflict between Israel and Gaza this past November, the girls were really frustrated and had troubles creating a positive dialogue with their twinned team from Beit Shmesh. However, their solid friendships with the girls from Beit Shemesh kept them persistent in establishing common ground with them, and I was really happy to see that. Their ability to overcome political disagreements encourages me to keep on with my work.
Even when times get rough, I see the progress of my teams, and through their growth—I find my own strengths.