IsraCorps' mid-year, 3-day seminar took place at the Ohalo Guest House on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Attending the seminar were the 250 volunteers engaged in a Community Service Volunteer Year through IsraCorps. These volunteers hail from a variety of groups in Israeli society, including: the Arab and Jewish sectors, religious and secular, new immigrants and native born, and youth from well-established communities as well as from the periphery.
- To build and fortify circles of identity and belonging
- To concentrate on social issues relevant to Israeli society
- To enable a social and professional encounter of the diverse IsraCorps volunteers
- To construct a common denominator for the diverse groups
The pastoral setting on the shore of the Sea of Galilee added to the sense of 'togetherness' that pervaded the seminar and provided fertile ground for social encounters between the different groups of IsraCorps volunteers. The IsraCorps staff were delighted to see volunteers from different backgrounds and cultures sitting together in the dining room for lunch, dancing together to the rhythm of the Darbuka and Arabic songs, learning together and discussing social issues during the seminar.
The overriding educational principle guiding the IsraCorps staff in their work with the volunteers is one of 'clarifying values.' This process involves exposure to and learning relevant bodies of knowledge, asking leading questions and conducing discussions between the volunteers and the facilitator that promote an internal process of formulating attitudes.
As anticipated, a bold and direct discussion about conflicts and questions of identity that exposes all of the difficulties, does not distance the members of the different groups, but rather draws them closer, a closeness that is formed between young people who openly confront personal and societal complexities. IsraCorps believes that this is a closeness of leaders.
The openness and willingness to get to know the 'other' is just one facet of the long road traversed and the changes experienced by the IsraCorps volunteers during their volunteer year. The volunteers have acquired new insights about the complexity of Israeli society, better ways of approaching their work, acquisition of new social leadership skills and a desire to change Israeli society.
The feedback received by the IsraCorps staff from the volunteers, the facilitators and the partners who visited was excellent.