A-CAT In the media اَ-كات في العناوين والصحافة
Opposite me I saw a young girl, my age, exactly like me
Radan, a young Muslim girl and Noah, a young Jewish girl, met at ACAT in Akko, amidst the cameras and 3D printers, and became best friends. How to overcome the barriers of language and religion? They have a few useful tips also for adults!
This new friendship excites everyone around them. Noah Levy is a Jewish 7th grade student at the ORT Roz School; Radan Tapash is an Arab Muslim 7th Grade student at the Terra Santa Christian School. Noah has three younger brothers, Radan has a twin brother. Both of them are 12 years old, opinionated, with long flowing hair and smiling eyes and despite the fact that both of them were born and raised in Akko, and even study in the same city, the chances of them meeting and becoming friends were remote were it not for a center like ACAT in which the activities around a common interest naturally connect the students and sometimes that's all it takes.
They met 3 months ago, in a 3D printing program in which they both participated. By chance at the first session they sat side by side in the circle of students that formed in preparation for the class; they started talking and the connection between them started almost immediately.
Soon after when the course was in progress and the students were asked to divide into pairs, it was clear to both of them they would work as a team.
Telephone numbers were exchanged and entered into mobile phone memories and they call each other often. Their first 3D printing assignment was to make a treasure box, and each one of them printed a box in the shape of a heart with the letters of their names, R and N
The box is on display on each of their desks at home.
The program instructor, Sogood Zeini, was amazed when during one of the first lessons she asked the students to tell something about themselves and the things they like, and she heard Noah saying " My name is Noah and I like Radan" and a minute later her friend answered "My name is Radan and I like Noah" "When I ask then what they liked I was referring to hobbies" says Zeini : "but these 2 girls surprised us"
How did the class react?
Zeini: Some of the students applauded
Levy and Tapash are not the first to cross the barriers of language and religion but such friendships are less common amongst adolescents, even when talking about a supportive environment, not everything is simple: " It was difficult to connect and meet new kids" Noah admits " our languages are different and this obstructs and makes getting to know one another more difficult.
How did you overcome this difficulty?
Noah: The fact that Radan knows Hebrew helped a lot, but I was still worried that we would be restricted in talking and that we would have difficulty understanding each other.
This did not happen?
Noah: No, we simply started talking and I saw opposite me a young girl of my age, exactly like me. We connected well, and I know that not all the kids accept this bond, not everyone in class wants to connect to the Arab kids and there are even those who choose not to come to activities at ACAT.
How do you deal with this?
"Kids like us try not to take it to heart," they answer together and complete each other's sentences "rather to continue activities and talk to those who are interested in talking to us. It's not like this is the first time we are meeting kids from another religion. When you live in a mixed city you meet everyone but you cannot say that you know everyone. The difference is that here it is really possible to get to know one another gradually and learn to get along together. The place connects people and it of course also depends on us"
Noah: "I am ready to try to get to know others and if I see that the girl standing opposite me is also not shy, I understand that there is an opportunity to connect.
Radan: Not everyone likes to get to know kids from other schools and not everyone is happy to meet. Sometimes Arab kids do not like meeting Jewish kids, the same as Jewish kids are sometimes put off by us. Not everyone is capable of overcoming the barriers between us. I actually do want to meet and get to know.
Are you exceptional?
Radan: I am not sure. There are other kids who would behave like me, if they have the opportunity. I told Noah that when I was in First Grade I went to a mixed ballet class and I learnt Hebrew there but there are not always opportunities to meet and in a place like ACAT the connection simply happens. Noah and I completed the 3D printing course together, and now we are studying photography together and I wait for Wednesdays to come to ACAT to meet her and work together,
I told my other friends about her, how we met and how much I like her."
ACAT Center for Arts and Technology – the first of its kind in Israel, opened as a replication of Bill Strickland's model in Pittsburgh USA. There are currently 11 centers throughout the USA. The center in Israel offers youth and adults a variety of courses in the field of photography, 3D printing, tourism/hospitality and industry, at no charge to the students. Its principle goal is to build social cohesion and to initiate change amongst youth and adults and provide them with prospects and a new path in life. The increasing scope of activities is proof of the existing need. More than 450 adolescents and adults participated in ACAT's first year of activity and many community meetings and conventions were held at the center.