Palestinian Territories 2011 – 1/3 edition

Supporting emergency education in the Palestinian Autonomous Territories of Bethlehem, Jericho and East Jerusalem

Palestine workshop I edition.


A journey into landscape, re-discovering nature.

We consider each project as a journey.

A journey in which participants are invited and encouraged to share an experience, working together on what is collected along the path. The ‘core’ of this project is a ‘deeper look’, a look educated and aware of the nature around us.

The purpose of our journey together is to educate our look.

Nature offers us many suggestions; the discovery of its beauty leads us to recognize the mystery that makes everything and our heart too. This is why we can experience a ‘tuning’ between us and the living beauty of nature. To grasp this point our eyes need to be educated: we can learn to see in deep thanks to some practical and creative tools. This discovery is personal and the path is not a useless but a wandering
journey: a lot of encounters can happen, always revealing something new.

With the students and teachers of the Institute Effetà Paul VI we decided to organize this journey together with the silent and coloured characters of the natural landscape around us: trees, flowers, shrubs, vegetables and herbs, both cultivated and wild, sedentary or in movement. In the beginning we want to recognize and call them by name. We want to see them in deep and to draw them to learn how to look at them, discovering their parts, their relationship with time and man, how they grow and move.

We want them to become part of our ‘garden’, a garden where we call them by name and we can discover their story.

We have to be careful to recognize their words and represent their messages. Let us be ‘gardeners’: we can build a new garden where beauty speaks to heart.

We may discover that the fate of our planet is a personal responsibility for each of us: we can do it by recognizing nature as something ‘given’. The experience of this journey marks not an ending, but a starting point. We always propose to write a diary made up of images: a video recalls the steps walked together and can be used as a track to record new experiences with different words.

We started sharing with the teachers the fundamental principles of our proposal for the students. In order to become part of the students’ experience the content of the workshop has to be passed and communicated to the teachers first.

The basic concepts and activities are:

1. The term ‘education’ cannot be reduced to a mere transmission of knowledge:

education corresponds to an experience through which the young is accompanied to become ‘protagonist’ of his own life. This journey leads each person to discover ‘his place’ within the community, thanks to a series of encounters that reveal our own substance as men and disclose the meaning of reality around us.

2. Encouraging this kind of ‘encounters’ is the everyday job of the educator:

teachers foster these encounters thanks to the reading, the learning of history and foreign languages, the discovering of different cultures, new places and things, near or far. The personal involvement of the student is needed and the teachers should promote it. Each one can realize that he is worthy of discovering the world1.

3. Nowadays we live in a dimension of global communication through images.

The journey of discovery seems to be unnecessary and avoidable: to learn new things and to know the world we don’t need roads and streets anymore because the events, the reality in general, are delivered to our door. The guide, who first pointed out to us the way, is now an obstacle for the view2.

4. We need to become more and more aware of this widespread attitude, in such a context one of the opportunities to avoid the utilitarian result of the educational experience is to give again dignity to the event of the encounter and to the dynamics hidden in it.

The encounter happens through a face or an object and always corresponds to the personal self‐discovery. The circumstances that I am living are the ideal opportunity for the encounter between me and the mystery who has created the reality (we didn’t make the things, and they do not exist on their own). We call it ‘mystery’ because the answer to the questions ‘who did the things?’, ‘why am I existing?’ become deeper and deeper, the encounter with a
‘mystery’ never ends and giving a name to it depends on the freedom of each of us.

5. From this point of view the ‘things’, the beings that inhabit our world, play a new role, they acquire a new dignity, a new statute. Their presence is necessary to the world to be recognized as new every morning, every morning the ‘things’ can be the suggestion to discover him.

6. We want to bring our contribution in term of ‘environmental education’ through the experience of the encounter with some of the characters of our everyday reality: plants, shrubs, flowers and grasses. Often silent, lonely, maybe neglected, their presence is so strong that if we stop for a moment to see them, we realize that they determine the landscape in which we live.

7. We want to help each other to recognize us as ‘gardeners’ of a ‘global garden’3.

If the world is a garden where his landscapes are the result ‐ constantly in flux ‐ of the meetings and the wanderings of many living beings, then to live in it consciously I have to enter these relationships, becoming part of these interactions. And I cannot enter a relationship with something or someone without knowing their name.

8. Since ‘what has no name does not exist’ our journey can begin from the names of what we meet to discover anything else.

9. The steps of our encounters are simple, intuitive, guided by questions.

a. During the visit to a garden close to the school each person meets and discovers ‘the plant’, as if it were a new friend. What’s its name? Why is it here? How did it get there? Where is it from? How does it grow? Who, What does it have around it? How does it feed itself? For what is it useful? Where have I already met it?

b. Using a camera and taking some photos we try to discover its secrets. What color does it dress? Does itchange with the seasons? Does it become the house of other living beings? We take some notes on our sketch book.

c. We share our experience with the others, bringing back to school what we have collected (a leaf, a flower, an impression, a memory, an image…). Why have we chosen it? Have our friends already met what we have found in the garden? Is there any interesting story or memory related to our new ‘friend’? Is it used in our kitchen?

d. We draw our plant. The goal of this practical activity is to have a deeper relationship with our new friend.
To draw it we must look at it very carefully. What kind of techniques do we use? What is it important to underline?

e. To let the others discover what we have found we write a short story to describe better our ‘plant’, through a dialog between two characters of the garden. What does it say about itself? What role does itplay inside the garden? Who are its friends?

f. As the architect Le Corbusier wrote: ‘this is the key… to look, to observe, to see, to imagine, to create’,starting from the attention to nature and reality we can make something new. We now rethink our own garden inside the school, finding a place for each plant and story. Where do we put our new friends? Why?
How can we introduce the other students to our new garden?