by Miki Joelson
In the First Part I wrote about the exciting TEDx youth event held in Holon on April 25, 2013, dedicated to youth social involvement and creativity, where Idan Levi, a Face to Face alumnus, spoke of the way he understands his own motives forsocial change.
As a result of this opportunity, I became interested in learning about the experiences of more Face to Face alumni involved in social change. Shaked Eisenmann, Apkar Nalbandian and Lavi Eisenmann wrote about their experiences and were invited to be in the audience with me in the TEDx event.
Each of the three dealt with a different experience, and still, as a person dealing with questions of being socially involved for a goal, which is not in the consensus, I found myself identifying with their questions.
Shaked wrote about tolerance, which he experienced while volunteering with mentally and physically challenged kids in SHALVA and in a different way in Face to Face. He relates that Face to Face taught him that the key to a connection with the other is looking at reality through their eyes:
“Accepting the other – a need or a burden?
It all began when I was in 9th grade. I spoke to a friend and she told me about her volunteer work in SHALVA, an association for mentally and physically challenged children. She spoke and I listened. By the time we hung up, I decided that I, who is usually reluctant to engage with those who are different than me, who lives in a bubble of a community, and who usually avoids change, decided to go for it and join!
I came to a first trial, and faster than I knew, I found myself, a 14 year old boy, working with a 21 year old. Before starting there I tried to avoid challenged people, who were born different than me. I didn’t think I will end up so involved in this world.
Today, 2.5 years later, I am still volunteering there. I am working with a new person, an amazing and smart boy, who has become a brother to me.
In this period my entire view of challenged people has changed. I find myself looking forward to meeting my person and the rest of the people there. I can definitely say volunteering became a need for me, something that fills me up with energy and makes me a better person.
I feel there is not enough social awareness of this issue in Israeli society. I think that trying to connect with people who are different than us is very important. People (including me, 2.5 years ago) tend to have prejudices and stigmas and avoid helping them.
I feel that no one can really remain indifferent once they get to know people like the kids I met at Shalva.
Since the beginning of my volunteering work I have had the opportunity to have several talks like the one I had with my friend that led me to volunterer.f. As a result, some of my friends joined similar organizations. For me, that is considered as a personal social change project.
A lot of the changes I have gone through during this period are very much connected to my participation in Face To Face. There, also, I was exposed to people who are different from me in other senses. In Face To Face I learned some methods, which help me in my volunteering at SHALVA. I learned to try and see the relationship with the other through their eyes, to understand their feelings and experiences, and by doing so, to feel closer to them and bridge the gaps. I feel this helps me a lot with the people in SHALVA.”
[Shaked Eisenmann, 17, alumnus of F2F 2012]