One week into my internship at Project Harmony Israel I have been engaging with a lot of introductory and new logistical components of the more content-rich work I will be doing in a week or so. Project Harmony Israel is focused on the individual:
“All curricula are tailored to meet individual developmental, behavioral and linguistic needs, and couched in the principles of universal youth development. We believe that by creating a safe integrated space for children to share experiences, our campers are able to build organic, lasting relationships–on their own terms.
In order to achieve these programmatic goals we offer a wide variety of daily activities, including fine arts, music, athletics, team building, community gardening, American Sign Language, and English games. We go on weekly field trips and also host guest teachers to lead week-long workshops. Every summer we also host a community event in which we invite families, friends and community members to join us in celebrating our campers’ remarkable achievements.”
I’m still getting used to the commute and the work environment in Israel; it is all very casual. A number of times I have been sure that I have strict deadlines and then things end up being very flexible; the timeline here is entirely different here and the friendliness and collaborative work environment only adds to that feeling of accommodation and appropriate informality.
Most of my time has been spent developing a lesson plan. As an arts specialist I have been trying to think of the best ways to combine the efforts of normalization in a way that brings meaning to the fact that there are people engaged in this project and camp who come from such varying narratives. I’ve primarily been developing a portrait unit directed towards the goal of seeing and experiencing one another as full people. In my lesson plan I have considered comparing fast-paced portraiture as well as longer sessions wherein which two people take turns doing portraits of each other. The goal of this is to really get to know the faces and the (visual) experience of another person in a very personal way. As a supplemental component of the unit I hope for campers to conduct short interviews with the person they are drawing and to then use one phrase or quote from that interview as the title for the portrait or as an accompanying linguistic element to the visual experience of the portraits. I feel like there is something very inspiring about taking the time with another to notice the details of their being.
I have yet to work directly with other staff members, as they arrive on Sunday and we enter formal training for one week together prior to the camp’s start. I can’t wait to get to know those other staff members and experience this with them. So much more is in store! Meanwhile, here’s some photos of the space I’m working in at the Max Rayne Hand in Hand School in Jerusalem.
First photo: The Max Rayne Hand in Hand School
Second photo: A communal staff brainstorm on the process of how to have the greatest impacts on campers