Advisory Council’s Midterm Reflection on the Project

For more than one year, professionals from the field of youth work and youth exchange in Germany and Israel have been sharing their experience, expertise and questions around diversity-conscious education in their countries. On June 21, 2017 the advisory council of the project “Living Diversity in Germany and Israel” met for the 3rd time to reflect on the past activities as well as discuss concrete plans for the further development of the project.

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© All images by ConAct/Ruthe Zuntz

Presentation of the publication

On this occasion, the project coordinators had the chance to introduce to the members of the council the new publication “Living Diversity in Germany and Israel: Snapshots – Contemplations – Issues”. This publication consists of a compilation of topics and central questions that have been discussed so far throughout the project.

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The project coordinators present the publication “Living Diversity in Germany and Israel: Snapshots – Contemplations – Issues” © ConAct/Ruthe Zuntz

Members of the advisory council also contributed in the creation of this publication by submitting their own essays around topics which relate to their field of expertise:

How can we achieve representativity in the German-Israeli youth exchange and what should we take into consideration when doing so? Prof. Dr. Doron Kiesel spoke about the importance of seeing the participants not only as representatives of a certain group but rather recognize and praise their individual characteristics.

Miriam Awad Morad from the Arab sector of the Israeli youth movement “Noal” as well as Marcel Plageman from the German youth movement “The Falcons” presented their own essays around the topic of empowerment and its significance for the creation of a participatory culture among young people. Miriam stressed the importance of providing tools and methods in historic political education in order to talk about the history of the “Other”. In particular in heterogeneous groups it is necessary to provide space and voice for more than one narrative, even when these narratives might contradict each other, as is often the case in the Israeli society.

 

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Further demands for action

The second part of this meeting was dedicated to assessing ideas for the further development of the project “Living Diversity in Germany and Israel”. What are the current tendencies and topics we can identify in youth work and political education in Germany and Israel? How do the global and local social developments affect the demands for action in this field? Several ideas and suggestions were gathered throughout the discussion. The members of the council stressed that stigmas and social taboos have to be addressed openly so that they can be dealt with. Understanding with what “package” each person arrives to the youth exchange is especially relevant in mixed groups. Especially regarding “hard-to-reach youth” from both countries it is crucial to develop a strong sense of trust where emotions and fears are taken into consideration as a precondition for further work against discrimination.

The term “Otherness” remained high in the priority list of the discussions – how do we address this in the German-Israeli youth exchange? Being for instance an Ethiopian-Jew in Israel is a very unique and special otherness and is based on a different background. Self-determination and strengthening of the individual identity is one of the core principals of diversity-conscious education. However, it is necessary to observe each group independently and consider that the strengthening of ethnic belonging might be equally important for certain youth groups.

The members of the council addressed also the issue of expectation management: How do we imagine the multicultural society of the future and what are our expectations about it? How do we strengthen the sense of belonging of certain groups at the same time that the social and political structures continue to reproduce discrimination forms?

The next steps of the project “Living Diversity in Germany and Israel” aim to create a productive setting in order to further enable the exchange of expertise taking into consideration the gathered topics.

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