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  • Volunteering in Israel at the Umm el Fahem Art Gallery: Part 2

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    I am coming to the end of my sojourn in Umm el Fahem. I just returned from a week’s travel around the country, during the Moslem holiday for which the gallery is closed.The entire experience here has been wonderful for me.

    I have met a variety of people, in and through the gallery, and also just walking around the winding hilly streets of the city.  Everyone has been friendly and welcoming. Some have invited me to their homes.

    I have also met a variety of visitors to the gallery, from Israeli supporters to foreign visitors from various places. I have worked with staff members on improving their English skills. One man in particular has been extremely interested in practicing his English with the goal of guiding visitors through the Memory of Place, the permanent exhibition of the Gallery. This exhibit focuses on preserving the history and memories of the city, largely through photographs.

    Volunteering at an art gallery
    School group experimenting with scarves at the exhibit of Fatima Abu Rumi’s paintings exploring self identity.

    The Gallery also contains an archive, a place where additional photos, documentation, and interviews with older members of the community recorded on video. I was lucky enough to accompany two staff members to an 80 year old woman’s house and listen to her reminiscences. Even though the conversation was in Arabic, her enthusiasm came through clearly and I felt lucky to have been included.

    My last class for the children was yesterday. In my last days here, I will do some more English conversation with the staff, and practice explaining the Memory exhibit with Mohammed (which has been as rewarding to me as to him.)

    Students and volunteers at the art gallery
    Me with a group of high school students at the exhibit of elders of the city.

    I also plan to do some more work on sections of the Gallery website and also on the concept of designing a day trip to the Gallery and city, out of Jerusalem and or other cities, perhaps visit another school, and hopefully visit some architectural ruins (Megiddo, also known as Armeggedon!) and a halvah factory! If you’ve never tried halvah, a sesame candy, you should come to Israel and try some!

    If you are interested in a (much!) more detailed accounting of my adventures here in Umm el Fahem, you can check out my personal blog at bronxjo.blogspot.com.

    – Joanna

     

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