Open Your Eyes: Young Adults Video Seminar in Jaffa

merk4p —  February 19, 2015 — Leave a comment

by Dandan, K4P Jerusalem Intern

Despite a busy week of exams and colds, 8 K4P high schoolers came together on Thursday, February 12th, for an overnight trip in Jaffa to deepen their skills and commitment to the Video Newsletter Project.  While several students could not attend due to exams or illness, we noticed that the breakdown of Jewish, Christian and Muslim participants remained even. 

DSC_0330“You all have unique stories and a responsibility to share them,” said Meredith Rothbart, Director of Development. “So start noticing and thinking about all these crazy disconnects that are also amazing points of connection. Start thinking about aspects of your daily life that we don’t know about and take for granted.” Pointing to Sewar, a 9th grader who is national tennis champion for Israel she said, “We don’t know what it’s like to be the in top twenty tennis players in Israel as an Arab youth, so tell us!”

DSC_0389This workshop aimed to intensify the students’ imagination and harness their powers of observation through the camera. The first evening was led by Nadav, a Jewish advisor with Roots and photography specialist, who guided the students on a night walk through the Jaffa flee market and asked each student to take three photos of something that caught their eye. “We’re going to try and notice things that interest us in a place where we find ordinary,” said Nadav, as the students exited the Ruth Daniel Hotel with cameras in hand. They all walked past the cafes and warehouses, to the seashore and back to dinner at the hotel. When they reconvened in the hotel’s meeting room, they found their photos printed and strewn across the carpet floor.DSC_0290

Nadav first engaged them in a conversation about the act of creating, asking them questions such as “Why do we create?” Then, the students broke into two groups for an activity in which they had to think of a message and how they wanted to convey it, given they had an unlimited budget and amount of talent.


A representative of each group listened to the other group’s pitch and presented it to the whole group afterwards. One representative presented a group’s storyboard on “shoes and farting,” and another on a group’s storyboard on “feminism.” From this activity, Carla, a fifteen year old Christian girl, learned: “Different opinions may make the creative process better or more debatable. It is like ‘We are the World’ song made to help Haiti. Having more than one idea makes it more interesting.”

A girls vs. guys competition followed as a break, where a word was written on the board and each group had to think of as many songs that featured the word in two minutes. A point was given only when the group thought of a song that the other group had not listed. It was a close, competitive race, but the girls rose victorious.

Then, the students delved back into the heart of storytelling. Each one chose a photo taken by someone else and told a short story about it. Afterwards, they created a story together, posting the photos on a board to create a storyline. A dentist with yellow teeth, caged white doves, and a BMW escapade formed some of the motifs. Just when the students thought they had finished their story, Nadav threw them other challenges: create a different story with the same sequence of photos, come up with an alternative ending, and start the story from the other end.

“We didn’t walk so far, but look at how many perspectives we have,” said Nadav, closing the evening. The students then ended on a sweet note by going out for ice cream.

DSC_0473The second day featured another special guest: Elahn, founder of Chutzpah Media and a professional video maker who made the K4P promo video in 2012. Many of the students laughed as they saw themselves and classmates on screen two years ago, commenting on how they’ve changed physically. After this flashback, Elahn showed some of his videos to demonstrate the technical elements of shooting, such as camera angles, subject positioning, and music selection.

The students embarked on another walk through Jaffa, this time, using their phones and camcorders provided by K4P. “You’re now changing your way of looking out into the world like it’s a movie. Open your eyes to what’s around you, start to notice things or people and watch them, observe, take notes. You’ll realize there’s a lot more going on,” said Elahn, as he led the students out into the windy market streets. When the students returned, Elahn did a mock interview with George, a 15 year old Christian boy, to give advice on recording others’ stories.DSC_0493

“This isn’t a competition; it’s not about making a hollywood film, but it’s about your lives and the stories you have to tell” said Elahn, before he passed it over back to Meredith who led the final group reflection.

“It was really different from our usual events for Kids4Peace. I liked the photos and how many different stories we came up with. I think the main lesson of this session is to search for things everywhere you are and look always, open your eyes” said Noa, a fifteen year old Jewish student.

Emanuel, another Jewish youth said: “I really liked the whole concept that the weekend was not so much energetic; it was more calm and had less people. Generally I liked the fact that it was very creative and not like most of the K4P things that are more intellectual…I really liked the technical part, how to make the different shots and angles, the do’s and don’ts of interviewing. I’m more excited about this project now. I have so many ideas.”

The kids were asked to think about their video focus and share any ideas with the K4P staff about ways to take their project forward:

“I want to let the project come from you guys. We want to figure out the best way to enable you to go through the creative process and provide the skills to make your video what you want. It’s not like other programs in that ‘This is our curriculum and this is what we want you to learn,’ but it’s an opportunity we want to provide for you so your voice will really be heard,” said Meredith.


Sponsored by the US Consulate, this project will take the form of a video newsletter in which each student will produce a short film about something important to them. The young adults cohort will work on this project for the next coming months. 

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