This is the fourth year that the Partnership has sponsored this project, which engages Palestinian-Israeli students in educational work with youth in Issawiya. Five engaged students led groups of junior high students, encompassing some 100 youth. Students held weekly meetings with Issawiya youth, focusing upon this empowerment through activities that address adolescence and the youth's experience of growing up in Issawiya, and raising the youth's social, cultural and personal awareness.
The coordination of the students was conducted by Ms. Hiba Younis, a graduate student in sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Hiba conducted a training seminar for the student-facilitators, focusing on consolidating the students as a group, providing them with teaching and facilitation skills, and included the examination of specific activities and games for youth to verify which ways of action are suited for the specific groups of youth in Issawiya. The seminar enabled the setting up of a yearly work plan, and served as a setting to examine cultural differences between the students from the north of Israel and residents of East Jerusalem.
The workshops facilitated by the students in Issawiya touched upon issues of adolescence, identity, sexual violence, gender and feminism, acceptance of the other, human rights, and dangers of drugs and smoking. The project provided a framework for the youth where there are no such after-school programs and alternatives. The youth's meetings with university students were significant as a very small percentage of residents of Issawiya have access to higher education. Students brought the groups for a tour of the Mt. Scopus campus, a place that the boys and girls live in proximity to, but which they have never visited.
Throughout the year students underwent bi-weekly meetings – a year long seminar to develop and implement their plan for action and reflect upon and evaluate their work. Students were also guided by bi-weekly individual meetings with the coordinator. Students expressed appreciation for these meetings, as the process of getting to know local needs was often a difficult one. Some of the students had never visited Issawiya, and had very rigid stereotypes about what Issawiya youth were like and what their needs were. The attitude in which students will come in and teach and enlighten the locals quickly fragmented however, and it took time and hard work to learn how to work together and learn from each other.