Pol-in-Know-How: Polish Culture in Israeli Schools
2009-08-31 - 2009-09-10,
Project description:

1.Project Title

Pol-in-Know-How: Polish Culture  in Israeli Schools – Polish-Israeli workshops about Poland’s history and culture for high school students in Israel


2. Places of the Project


IsraelJerusalem, Tel Aviv, Beer Sheva (?), Ashdod


3. Project Aims


The Polish-Jewish, and today Polish-Israeli relations have a rich history, for as much as we share hundreds of years of coexistence on the Polish territory.


Since 1989, when Poland regained full independence, the relations between the Republic of Poland and Israel are very good, as often stressed by politicians. However, negative stereotypes, distorting the image of our countries and nations are still very present in both societies. 


Inspiration for our project was a one-week meeting – “Sometimes together, mostly separately” – which took place in Poland and aimed at teaching about the centuries-long Jewish tradition on the Polish soil, including the history of Holocaust and the Polish martyrdom. This project, conducted in December 2008, brought together young people from Poland and Israel and made them discover together their cultural and historical similarities.


We were surprised how many prejudices still exist and how we lack knowledge about each other, and at the same time how positively our attitudes changed thanks to the project. Being aware that not everyone can take part in such one-week-meetings we decided not only to continue our project in Israel but also to widen the score of the activities through workshops conducted in high schools.


Accordingly, a long term aim of the project is to build good and friendly relations between young Poles and Israelis, based on solid KNOWLEDGE about nowadays Poland and Polish history, with focus on the 20th anniversary of the democratic transformation in Poland and the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the World War 2. We believe that knowledge is a groundwork for a better common future and cooperation between Poles and Israelis.


The specific objective of the project will be the transfer of knowledge about Poland’s culture and history that will be carried out on three levels:

1)     in the cooperation of the Polish educators / youth workers with young people from Israel (having similar experience in the NGO field, work with youth etc.) in conducting workshops about Poland. The direct contact and cooperation between the educators / youth workers from both countries will be crucial here, as well as their common work on the workshops preparation. Moreover, this interaction will serve as an example of Polish-Israeli cooperation and will establish and strengthen ties between the project’s participants.

2)     through the 3-hours-workshops conducted by the participants in Israeli high schools for overall 480 pupils

3)     through evening meetings, where Polish culture will be presented to overall 40 teachers, workers of the municipality or local NGOs operating in the field of education, as well as for other people interested in the subject.


Another specific objective is to work with existing stereotypes and prejudices; teaching respect for ethnic, religious differences as well as taking actions to prevent attitudes based on xenophobia.

Time of our project is favorable for promoting subjects connected with Poland in Israel. The year 2008 was established as Polish Year in Israel. Israelis through media, events, meetings with artists and various people from public sphere had the opportunity to get a closer look at parts of today’s reality of Poland. It is a good background for further activities that aim to promote Poland, to carry on the interest about our country.

4.  Detailed task description ( coherent with cost estimate)

To reach the objectives mentioned above we plan a visit of 9 Polish educators / youth workers (with 1 person coordinating the program) that have experience in Polish-Israeli projects and work with youngsters. They will meet an Israeli group of 9 participants (plus 1 coordinator) with similar background, also having experience in youth work. Polish and Israeli students already had the opportunity to meet during a project in Poland in December 2008. This will help them when working together during this project.

The main task for Polish and Israeli participants will be to carry out workshops about Polish history and culture in chosen high schools in Tel Aviv, Ashdod and Beer Sheva (?). Workshops are designed for high school students because the least of common Polish-Israeli projects is focusing on this age group. Furthermore, often these young people get their impression about Poland based on their first contact with our country during school trips limited to visiting only places of commemoration after Nazi extermination camps situated on the territory of our country. It is highly difficult due to that to inspire curiosity about Poland among young Israelis which would be based on different topic than Holocaust.

The workshops are going to be prepared by both Polish and Israeli participants during the first half of the project. During the second half the workshops will be presented to the young people in high schools by mixed Polish- Israeli teams. This will ensure inclusion of Israeli perspective into the topics of the workshops form the preparation phase, as well as prevent communication problems with students during the workshops – the workshops are going to be run in English but if necessary Hebrew translation will be available. During the workshops 4 main thematic blocks will be presented:  firstly we would like to familiarize the Israeli youth with the common history and coexistence of our  two nations before WW2 (workshop called “Poland in old days”); the topic of the second workshop about the WW2 will be “Fighting Poland” and the issue of righteous among nations will be incuded in this workshop; third workshop called “Ensalved Poland” will show forced belonging of Poland to the Eastern Block on one side of the Iron Curtain and Poland under communist governance; the last workshop will show contemporary Poland and will be based on the1989 Round Table transformation to democratic governance. 


In both phases the project will have a form of active educational workshops during which the educators/youth workers will create optimal and friendly conditions to get to know each other and to look at the topic of the project, which is finding what is common and what future can be built on it.  Educators from Angelus Silesius  House in cooperation with partners from Israel, are responsible for the topics and the form of the work. The 15-years of experience of the Angelus Silesius House in Wroclaw shows that active educational workshops let the young people and the educators establish good relationship with each other. Thanks to the topics prepared for specific group, we can achieve the goal, which is encouraging youth to make brave, independent  and critical analysis and to engage in finding a mutual understanding and building a better world. Our non-formal education methods stress the importance of using the young people’s potential. Knowledge transmitted in an attractive and challenging way usually brings a lot of satisfaction to young people who find the educational process interesting and are surprised by how much they have learnt without much effort.


Apart from workshops, Polish group, together with the Polish Institute, will prepare an evening commemorating 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the World War 2 on the 1st of September, where partners of the project, school directors and teachers, youth workers will be invited. In Israel, the date of 1st September is not celebrated (rather the day of the end of the WW2), that is why it should be interesting event for all participants, to see how we commemorate this date in Poland, which was first country invaded by Hitler’s troops.


Moreover, in two of youth centers – in cities were project will be run, movie-evenings will take place, when we will present two Polish movies with English subtitles to the spectators.


During one evening there will be also a presentation of a few well known Polish songs, in a form of a common singing with guitar; it will be an interesting artistic element, making our program more various. The aim is to present songs that were already famous at the time of their creation and that express main ideas of Polish culture, and are easy to sing at the same time. Here are some of artists who are to be presented: Agnieszka Osiecka, Antonina Krzysztoń, Wojciech Młynarski, Jacek Kaczmarski, Jeremi Przybora, Jerzy Wasowski, Grzegorz Turnau, Grzegorz Ciechowski. These songs should not only represent ideas important for Poles, but also make Polish culture closer and more understandable to Israelis. To ensure participation of the latter the original lyrics with Hebrew translation will be provided. Prepared lyrics can be also treated as some kind of souvenir and memento of our meeting. Exact translation will comprehend only choruses, the rest of the lyrics will be summarized in Hebrew.


Detailed program of visit to Israel are in attachment.


Project’s promotion: Promotion will be pursued both, in Israel and in Poland.


In Israel, the coordinator will be in contact with local media in the places were workshops will take place. Information will be put in thematic web sites for teachers, youth and web sites of local administration. Also radio station will be invited to prepare some information about the project and interviews with the participants. During the project we will also be preparing a movie, which can be used to promote our activity and to present its outcomes. Moreover, Polish participants will bring along small gifts for the workshops’ participants in schools (books, maps of Poland) and for their teachers, the books “Difficult questions in Polish-Jewish Dialogue”, CDs with music of Chopin.


In Poland, the promotion will focus on local media of Wrocław, radio stations, students’ internet portals and media that deal with Polish-Jewish dialogue.