Folding Together

Official Project Diary

Below is the unabridged diary kept by Paul Jackson of the 11 meetings of the first Course (of 4 courses) of the 2004-5 Major Project. Each entry was written soon after each meeting, capturing the highs and lows of what happened. It is perhaps the document that best captures the true flavour of the Project. A few notes have been added to clarify certain points.

Course One: 17th May 2nd August 2000

Week 1: 17th May 2004

44 Children from Melaweer School in East Jerusalem (Palestinian) and Gilo Aleph School in West Jerusalem (Israeli) attended -- 22 from each School. We were expecting fewer children after one Arab school decided not to send its children following the recent assassination of the Hamas leader, but Melaweer sent more children to compensate.

The presence of several people from the Japanese Embassy, including Natsume san (Cultural Attache), Mizutani san (Palestinian Projects) and Nanako san (Secretary to the Cultural Attache), plus several members of the Japanese Press added greatly to the flavour of the event.

Pizzas provided by Fadi (the Project's Palestinian teaching assistant) were a big success, but later, complaints were received from observant Jewish parents that they might not have been Kosher.

Once in the classroom, the children were reshuffled to sit alternately Palestinian/Israeli (NB: in later groups, we allowed the children to sit where they chose for the first meeting).

Plastic A4 wallets were distributed to all the children, plus a diary, pen and a packet of origami paper. Magazines about Japanese life and dolls were generously donated as gifts by the Japanese Embassy.

Name tags were distributed and worn, with everyone's name written in Hebrew, Arabic, English and Japanese.

The teachers present were Miri, Paul, Abir, Fadi and Naama (Naama was the Project's Israeli teaching assistant).

Initial speeches of welcome and distributing the wallets and their contents took much time, but the children were kept busy and interested.

Miri then explained the significance of the story of Sadako Sasaki, while folding a crane. Abir repeated the story in Arabic. Many of the girls already knew the story and chanted key words during Abir's retelling.

Paul taught his version of the 'Domino Rally' model. Two lines were carefully assembled and amid much noise, cheering and fun, the Domino lines tumbled hesitantly!

Quiet again, the children were asked what they had thought of the afternoon. One Israeli girl who had been afraid to be moved to sit next to Palestinians, cheerfully announced that she had enjoyed the afternoon and wanted to come next week. We learnt from other children that the presence of Japanese people had been the biggest success of the event.

That day, Givat Tsarfatit (the suburb in which the Project venue was located) was crippled by road blocks following warnings of an attack. It seemed almost unreal that in a city of caution, the origami class was a haven of happiness and equality between cultures.

Week 2: 24th May

To hopefully counteract the criticism of the non-Kosher pizzas, Fadi brought simple pizzas in a different box. No complaints were received.

A few diary entries were read out by the children. Most said how much they had enjoyed the previous week, the attendance of the Japanese, sitting in the presence of people they would not normally meet, and learning origami. We had also received feedback from the Schools saying how many other children now wanted to come.

To continue the Japanese theme, Paul taught his Japanese Boy and Japanese Girl models.

He then taught Base One (the Preliminary Base), as a preparation for later making the crane. The children quickly made 5 copies to learn the Base thoroughly.

With 20 minutes to unexpectedly fill at the end, Paul taught the Sailboat from the Preliminary Base.

Another successful class.

The class was noisier than the first week. Abir expressed the opinion that this was because for many children it was difficult to concentrate on their work, as they had just completed a long day at school.

Week 3: 31st May

At the start, Miri taught the children to say 'How are you?' 'OK!' in each other's language, making a game of question and answer between the children.

Miri taught the children the Bird Base 5-6 times so that they could learn it by heart, building on what they had learnt the previous week and further preparation for the Crane.

During the folding, one of the Palestinian girls began to cry. Fadi removed her from the group and asked why she was crying. She explained that some of the Israeli boys were making fun of her name. Miri spoke to the boys and explained that part the project was about learning respect. They were asked to individually apologise to the girl and to 2 other girls they were also teasing. The class was reshuffled so that these boys and girls could sit together.

Miri stopped the teaching and asked Abir to explain the meaning of the girls' names. Later, the meaning of the boys' names was explained. In this way, it was hoped both cultures would learn respect for the dignity of each others' names and the teasing would stop.

As homework, Miri asked the children to make Bird Bases from the packet of origami paper given to them in Week One, as preparation for making the 1000 cranes next week.

Week 4: 7th June

A very hot day!

The children brought their collection of almost -finished cranes made at home. Some children brought more than others and the quality of the folding varied.

Miri taught them how to finish the crane.

The children then worked individually and mostly without supervision to finish their cranes.

This process of finishing took maybe 70 minutes, during which time it became clear that the children were working hard, but also interacting very well with each other, helping each other with the folding and playing silly games. On a few occasions a child would ask a teacher a question on behalf of a few children, including 'my Arab friend' or 'my Israeli friend'.

Eventually the cranes were finished. Volunteers sorted the different colours into different garbage bags and were given homework of checking all the cranes for quality.

Every child in the group was given 5 more sheets to make top quality cranes at home.

With 10 minutes remaining, Paul taught a simple 'Action Mouth' so that the children would have something to take home.

The atmosphere today was remarkable very friendly, a little noisy but controlled, co-operative, busy and interested.

We heard that the Principal of Gilo School had talked sternly to her children today about good behaviour. No one from the teaching team had complained about behaviour to her, so we assume one of the children must have complained, perhaps about the name-calling incident last week.

The Palestinian and Israeli children involved in the name-calling last week were sitting together this week, clearly enjoying each other's company.

This was our most successful class so far.

Week 5: 14th June

Mizutani san visited us briefly during pizza time.

Paul taught 4 simple birds: Flapping Bird (traditional), Pecking Bird (Takekawa), Squawking Bird (trad?) and Chinese Duck (trad). This collection of action models was very popular with the children, who always enjoy making models that can be played with. It was also a good opportunity to do a solid afternoon's folding with a variety of techniques.

The children this week were unusually energetic, running around frantically during break times. However, they concentrated well on their folding.

As usual, the Melaweer children arrived well before the children from Gilo (because the bus journey is longer?). When the Gilo children arrived, it was noticeable that both sets of children were pleased to see each other, greeting each other with smiles, waves, 'high 5's' and 'low 5's'. They now have regular places to sit and have formed quite tight socials groups.

An enjoyable, productive class, with high levels of energy.

Week 6: 21st June

About 5-6 children did not come.

We completed the 1000 cranes project. Birds of different colours were separated into colour groups. The children were put into Israeli-Palestinian pairs and each pair given 10 birds of one colour: 10 of another, 10 of another, 10 of another and 10 of another 50 birds in total. The children were shown how to 'sew' each bird onto a nylon thread, so that a long string of 50 threaded birds could be made. Tables and chairs were removed, so that the children could work on the floor.

The children worked together, enjoying the opportunity to work co-operatively on a task that did not need language. The atmosphere was busy and excited. Not every pair of children had 50 cranes, so when one pair had threaded their birds, they would help fold cranes for other pairs.

Each pair attached their thread to a wooden hoop. Time ran out, so that only about half of the threads were competed and attached.

One of the children had a birthday today, so at the end of the class we sang 'Happy Birthday' in 3 languages. His mother had come for the end of the class and gave out birthday cake and lollipops to the children.

We asked the children what they had thought of the day. They commented that it was their favourite class so far. One Israeli boy commented that he wasn't looking forward to working with a Palestinian girl, but he had enjoyed the experience very much.

Week 7: 5th July

After a week's break, the course resumed today. Only 25 children were present, reflecting the start of the summer vacation.

Naama was absent due to exams. Her place was taken by another Israeli Origami Center teacher, Anna.

Miri taught the method for folding 2 or more cranes from one sheet of paper, cut almost into separate squares, but leaving just sufficient paper uncut that the birds could join at the beak, tail or wing-tip. The children and teachers -- were deeply engrossed in this dexterous folding activity, enjoying the challenge of making the cranes without tearing the paper and helping each other. At first, the method for making 2 cranes joined beak-to-beak was taught, then 3, then 4, joined wing-to-wing.

The class was a big success, and time passed quickly.

Week 8: 12th July

About 30 children came about 20 Palestinians and 10 Israelis.

We had decided that for the final origami evening with parents and guests, we would make an exhibition of origami in a small copse of 8 trees at the back of the Community Center. So, first we took the children to the site and explained what we would do.

Then, back in the classroom, Paul taught them the 6 x Waterbomb Base module, which they had some trouble assembling correctly. This was one of the models to hang from one of the trees.

We wanted the children to have an origami invitation to give to their families to formally invite them to the evening, so Paul taught them a beautiful Crane envelope, taught to him by the blind Japanese origami master Saburo Kase during his visit to Israel in 2003.

Miri and Abir wrote the text of the invitation on a white board in Hebrew and Arabic, which the children copied into their envelopes.

The children are now well settled into the course. The atmosphere continues to be very friendly, respectful, enthusiastic and busy.

There is a general consensus among the teachers that 30 children in the room is a much better number to teach than the original 44, though we prefer 44!

Week 9: 19th July

30 children again came, with the same imbalance of Palestinians and Israelis as before. We heard that the Summer Camps that had been claiming the attendance of many Israeli children were ending this week, so next week the last before the final party should see a good and balanced attendance.

We decided during the week not to make a large exhibition in the copse. This was because we wanted to save such a spectacular event for the final party at the end of the 4th course. Instead, we decided to have a small exhibition inside the larger room at the Community Center, plus workshops between the children and their families.

We decided to make the party session (class no 11) the last of the series. No 12 will be kept until near the end of the entire Project next Spring, so that the children will have an opportunity to meet again and to fold something for the final grand exhibition.

To complete the 6 x Waterbomb module sculpture taught last week, Paul taught his 6-piece Cube. Everyone made one cube.

The Pop-Star from a Blintzed Bird Base was then taught, using 10cm paper. The children made as many as they could in the available time perhaps 100. They will form a collage in the exhibition.

During the folding of the Pop-Star, Miri removed about 7 children from the group to finish folding and to thread together 50 half-made cranes folded by the 2 nd Group that same morning. This completed the garland of 1000 cranes.

The Caretaker drilled a hole in the ceiling in the entrance lobby of the Community Center, from which the garland was hung. It was a spectacular sight, and the children were clearly proud and excited by their achievement.

During the class, 3 children at a time went to the Project office with Miri to copy extracts from their diaries. These copies will be scanned and used in the final exhibition.

Another fun, relaxed, busy session, with the children working well together.

Week 10: 26th July

During the week, Abir had telephoned the parents of everyone in the group to see who would attend the party planned for next week. As a consequence of her calls, 28 children came, 14 from each side.

This perfect balance (a near miracle, given the imbalance of recent weeks) meant that Paul could teach the joined cranes. This is a design by Miri from A4 paper, in which 2 cranes are joined to a strip along the long edge. The strip contains space for the children to write their names.

First, everyone practiced the cranes with ordinary A4 paper. When the idea was understood, different quality washi papers were used. The children were put into Israeli/Palestinian pairs of their own choosing and the cutting and folding of the cranes shared equally between the members of each pair. The cranes were duly folded ands looked very beautiful. Abir and Naama organized the names of each pair of children to be written on the attached strip in Hebrew and Arabic.

The remaining hour was spent making a simple Tulip and Stem. Some of the Melaweer girls knew the Stem and completed it before Paul had taught more than a couple of folds. So, one of them was invited to the front to teach it to everyone, which she did with enthusiasm! Paul sat and relaxed. In the remaining time, everyone made 2-5 Tulips and Stems. Next week, the stems will be glued to a 'capa' (foamboard) base so that they cannot topple, and will be displayed in a large group atopped with the Tulips.

A few of the group had spent the week making dozens of Pop-Stars (taught last week). They will be a welcome addition to our Star collage.

The class was unusually noisy and energetic, perhaps in anticipation of the party next week, perhaps because they were pleased to be back to a balanced group, or perhaps they were simply in an energetic mood! Nevertheless, they achieved much today.

Before they left, letters and invitations about the party were given to each child to pass to their families.

Week 11: 2nd August

This was the day of the final party.

Miri, Paul and Abir arrived at the Community Center at 11.15am to find a Summer Camp in progress in the large room, which would not finish until 4.00pm , just one hour before the party would begin. Negotiations moved it to the small room (the room usually used for teaching).

Paul glued 15 digital photos of the stringing of 1000 cranes onto black 'capa' (foamboard), and also glued the story of Sadako, in Hebrew, Arabic and English, to hang next to the cranes. Then, he laminated 4 Hebrew and 4 Arabic diary entries, for the exhibition.

Miri attached paper strips that read 'Folding Together' in Japanese to brooches, then attached the brooches to 150 small cranes made by Abir and her family. These would be given to the guests when they arrived.

Next she prepared the exhibition space, attaching a 4m length of red fabric over the long mirror, removing artwork from the walls and tidying the room. She also removed the unattractive curtain near the 1000 cranes and replaced it with a Japanese flag loaned by the Embassy.

Abir assisted Miri and made many phone calls.

Miri's brother, Oudi, attached metal signs to the gate of the Community Center and to the interior wall near the 1000 cranes, announcing the 'Folding Together' project in Hebrew, Arabic and English.

At 2.30pm , the children arrived. Fadi had prepared pizza for them, but did not attend today, because of a wedding that evening. Naama came.

After pizza, Miri spoke to the children about the party. Children were selected to read from their diaries. Abir took them away to rehearse them in peace. Fadi's absence as the 2 nd Arabic speaker became a problem when Abir was away working with the children.

The remaining children were divided into work groups. The different groups;

1) helped clean he floors and toilets
2) assisted with the preparation of the food
3) Glued tulip stems to small squares of capa
4) assembled the 6 x Waterbomb Base modules and the 6-piece cubes into interlocking towers
5) made collages from the Pop-stars

Miri organized the exhibition on tables in front of the 4m red fabric. The elements were:

1) The united cranes made in Week 10, attached to the back wall above the tables.
2) Modular towers (about 10 towers)
3) Tulips (about 50)
4) Pop-star collages (on 2 Gillions)
5) diary entries
6) complex chains of united cranes made by one of the children
7) exhibits loaned by the Japanese Embassy, such as a temple, bonsai, dolls, lanterns and small flags.

The exhibition looked very good diverse, interesting and well made.

The 1000 cranes hung In the entrance to the Community Center. The story of Sadako was next to it, then to the left the 15 photos, arranged informally around the metal sign of the project. It looked very impressive -- formal but personal (because of the photos).

150 chairs were arranged in the room, and PA system organized at the front. In an atmosphere of excitement and increasing panic, a hundred jobs were frantically completed by the teachers and children.

At 4.30pm the children were gathered at the front and taught a simple Heart, which they would later teach the guests. They were also reminded how to behave and how to react to their guests.

Guests began to arrive at 4.45pm, all wearing the crane badge, given to them at the gate.

The Japanese Ambassador and his wife arrived a little before 5pm and were given a tour of the exhibition by Miri and Abir, who also explained more about the project. He also spoke to some of the children.

Coaches from Gilo and Melaweer schools arrived shortly after 5pm, bringing the parents of the children. A party of Japanese people from the Embassy also arrived, some with wives and children. Many wore kimonos. The Japanese peace monk Horikoshi came, with the Japanese correspondent Noy. When the party finally began at 5.20pm, about 120 people were present.

First came the speeches.

To begin, several children read entries from their weekly diaries. Many more wanted to speak, but the task of speaking and then translating into Hebrew or Arabic, then into English, slowed the process considerably, so that only a few children were given time to speak.

This was followed by a short speech from the Japanese Ambassador. He won the hearts of everyone by speaking several sentences in Hebrew and Arabic, before continuing in English. At the conclusion of his speech, he was presented by a 30-piece modular ball designed by Paul. Each piece was signed by one of the children of the project.

Next came Mizutani san, surprised to be asked to speak. He was followed by Nuha, Principal of Melaweer School and Michal, Principal of Gilo Aleph School.

Then 2 parents spoke. They were followed by Miri as Director of the Project, Abir as Project Manager and finally Paul as the Creative Director.

The speeches were short, but with translations, the total time taken was about 40 minutes. Many speeches were emotional and intensely appreciative of the good work of the project.

Speeches were followed by the fun 'Folding Together' game, devised by Paul. The guests first cleared all the chairs to the sides of the room, after which coloured origami paper was randomly distributed by the children to everyone. Sheets of the same colour were not given to people obviously together. This piece of noisy, good-humoured mayhem, was a welcome contrast to the quiet concentration of the speeches. Then, people with paper of the same colour were asked to group together all the red people together, all the blues together, all the yellows, etc. This had the effect of randomly mixing everyone into about 10 groups. The children had previously learnt a simple Valentine's Heart, which they then taught to the groups of colours by chance, today was the Jewish 'Day of Love'. It was a memorable 5 minutes of origami teaching, fun, relevant and symbolic.

After the game, food and drink were available in the smaller room, including Kosher sushi.

During the break for refreshments, the 1000 cranes were moved from their place in the lobby to the center of the large room, where it could be viewed from all sides. Strips of white paper had been prepared, onto which people wrote blessings for peace. These were attached to the bottom of the 20 strands of cranes.

After the food and to conclude the evening, the children of the project stood in a circle around the cranes. Each child sometimes with a partner -- held the bottom of each strand, then moved outwards to enlarge the circle to make a canopy of cranes. After chanting '1,2,3' in Arabic, Hebrew and Japanese (the device we used in the classes to gain the children's attention and to quieten the room), they simultaneously released all the strands so that they came together in their familiar vertical position. This ended the event.

The evening was a great success. The children were clearly excited and proud of their achievements, and their families delighted to part of their success. The guests from the Embassy of Japan were moved by the occasion, particularly the Ambassador, who was clearly enjoying himself hugely. We could not have asked for anything more from the event.

The evening finished at about 7.15pm, in time for the coaches to take the children and their families back to Melaweer School and Gilo Aleph School .
A dance class was booked to begin at 8.30pm, so very quickly (and with much regret) the beautiful exhibition was quickly dismantled, the chairs were removed and the food area cleaned, returning the rooms to their previous condition. It was all rather Surreal!

Definitely an evening to remember.

© Paul Jackson, August 2004.

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