The first 'Folding Together' project (the pilot) took place at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, in the summer of 2002, with a grant of US$19,291 from the Peres Center for Peace. In a course of 12 meetings, each of two and a half hours, 15 Israeli and 15 Palestinian children aged 8-11 came together to make origami. The project ended with an evening exhibition and entertainment for the children's families, representatives from 6 foreign embassies, members of the Museum Board and representatives from Jerusalem City Council. NHK TV from Japan filmed the course and the final event, which was broadcast on prime-time Japanese TV news, as an example of how Japanese culture could bring together 2 sides in conflict.
The children were taught by a team of professional origami teachers, who represented equally the Israeli and Palestinian communities. Hebrew, Arabic and English were spoken during the course. We designed many unusual, never-done-before origami projects which brought the children from the 2 sides together to create, to interact, to get to know each other and to have fun together. Additionally, the Museum had asked us to orientate the course towards Fine Art and away from what they saw as the kitsch 'craft' aspects of origami ...whch we were only too delighted to do! These several unique aspects of the course made each meeting a semi-improvised adventure, from which we all learnt much. Remarkably, few -- if any -- meetings were unsuccessful, a tribute to everyone's professionalism, and the motivation and good humour of the children.
The pilot was judged to be a great success by everyone involved, even by those who were initially skeptical of success. The children themselves, their families and schools, all praised the way in which the project brought the children together as equals, allowed them to get to know each other without pressure, and gave everyone the opportunity to learn respect, earn respect and to be respected.
Late in 2002, Miri Golan gave birth to a baby boy. 'Folding Together' activities were suspended throughout most of 2003.
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