A Storytelling Night in Israel/Palestine

Esra Dede Start Date: Aug 10, 2017 - End Date: Nov 7, 2017
  • Cultural Exchange
  • Educational/Research Trip
  • Professional Development

My Travel Story

by: Esra Dede Start Date: Aug 10, 2017 - End Date: Nov 7, 2017
  • Cultural Exchange
  • Educational/Research Trip
  • Professional Development
Four years ago I started telling stories. I found a hidden gem in the East of Amsterdam called Mezrab, a storytelling centre owned by an Iranian family. Here I learned to express myself, to connect with people and broaden my horizon. It made me the person I am today, a storyteller and a writer. Last year I went to Israel/Palestine
with a group of storytellers to conduct a workshop in a small Arab town in the North of Haifa and I met people that changed my life.

The Arab communities that live between the borders of Israel are rarely covered by the media, which contributes to the lack of international awareness about them. Provided an Israeli passport, they are technically equalised (on a level of citizenship) yet, not treated equitably. To their experience, discrimination and segregation is part of their daily lives. Due to social and economic isolation as well as absence of a concrete national identity, these groups are separated from each other on many levels. From Haifa, in the north, to the Negev/Naqab desert in the south of Israel/Palestine, one can observe substantial gaps between the different Arab communities, in economy, education, language, religion and political engagement.

After this workshop we continued our contact with these young people and our work in their areas so far has shown that younger members of these communities, not sharing a common identity (national or of any other wide form) and distanced from the family and local society lifestyle, tend to escapism. Some, form communities in bigger cities, where they can express themselves freely and build a sense of belonging. Others, find refuge in more rigid identities, like religion or conservatism. There is also a wave of youth that moves to different countries

Coming from a background as the granddaughter of a Turkish labour migrant,
I recognized a lot in their struggles to find a balance in preserving traditions and culture and the inevitable pull of integration. I found comfort in being with like minded people and sharing experiences with them through storytelling. I want to share this feeling and enhance dialogue between the young, more active and creative members of these communities by providing them the methodological approach and the narrative tools of storytelling. From October 2nd until December 2nd I will travel across country to find young Arabs from different communitues to take part in a storytelling workshop. I have gathered up storytellers from both The Netherlands and Israel/Palestine. Together we will help them during this workshop in finding, crafting and telling biographical stories. The final presentation of the workshop will be a storytelling night, like our nights in Mezrab. During my travels I will also write blogs and articles on this subject, offering them to international platforms to promote intercultural dialogue and further collaboration.