The Japanese Ambassador
We were honoured that the Japanese Ambassador, Mr Jun Yokota, agreed to write a dedication at the front of the 'Folding Together' book of the Major Project. Here is his dedication:
Forwards in the same publication written by Miri Golan and Abeer Mughrabi can be read here.
'For the Japanese Government it is an honour and a privilege to be part of the 'Folding Together' Origami Project. The Project shows how the culture and traditions of Japan are important tools that can help diminish conflicts between peoples. It was exciting for me to see Palestinian and Israeli children build relationships and share feelings through origami. I congratulate you for your successful work and look forward to continued cooperation with the Israeli Origami Center.'
The Children's Diaries
All the children of the Major Project kept a weekly diary of what happened in the meetings and how they felt. Often, at the end of a meeting, a few children would stand up and read last week's entry to the group. Many of these readings were deeply affecting to hear.
At the end of the first course we asked the children of the group if we could keep their diaries. They refused to give them to us, saying they were too precious! Over the previous weeks, we had read most of what they had written, so we know they weren't being secretive or hiding bad entries from us. We did not ask the other groups for their diaries, so what appears below is what we could rescue. They may not be the best written, most revealing, most heart-felt of entries, but they are typical of what the children wrote.
These diaries tell the truth about the Project, direct from the children's hearts. They are the authentic voice of the Project.
Baha, Motran School
"Today was our 4th meeting. I was in the 1st group and today I learnt how important it is for me to participate in the project. It is like my second home. I have an Israeli friend called Dolev. We are paired together in the group. Today, we swapped phone numbers. I talk in the school about the project and everyone wants to participate. I hope the project continues next year and that we children of the Fourth Group can help, as Miri and Abeer say we can."
Eden, Gilo School
"In the beginning I was afraid to sit next to a Palestinian, because there had been a lot of bombings and I didn't know if someone would come with a bomb. Slowly, my fear disappeared, because I came to know that they are exactly like us. In the end, I had good friends from the Palestinian side. At first, my mother didn't want me to sit next to Palestinians, but later she changed her mind."
Miriam, Melawe'er School
"Today is the 3rd meeting of the project. It was good fun. We feel the project is special because Paul and Miri are going to Austria to discuss an exhibition of our work. Today we folded envelopes. Everyone wrote something inside their envelope and gave it to someone on the other side. I wrote to Michal, my best Israeli friend. She gave me an envelope with many blessings.
The project makes me feel more secure. Before, I used to be afraid to go to places where there were Israelis, such as a hospital or mall. But now, I'm not afraid. If they talk to me and I don't understand, I'm not going to be shy and say I don't understand. I will speak to them in my own language."
Matan, Gilo School
"I enjoy very much to work in the project and am happy to participate. I particularly enjoyed threading the cranes with my Palestinian partner Needa. I have a lot of friends among the Arab children. I have learnt to fold many models and have even created my own Star ."
'The Magic World'
by Michal Mori-Yosef
When you play with folded paper
You can create everything in colours and gold.
Animals, flowers, people and shapes.
The whole world is the world of origami.
The world of magic is the world from coloured paper.
A world of imagination.
It started in the winter in Japan.
Children sat in houses with candlelight.
Mothers made origami with their children,
From generation to generation.
Their light lights the world.
The world of magic is the world from coloured paper.
A world of imagination.
In our Center meet Arabs and Jews with hopes for peace.
With origami, we stride towards our dream.
Letters from Parents
We asked some of the parents with children in the Project to give us their thoughts.
Said, mother of Yasmin
"Origami was something new for us. We heard about it through the school and the project. It improved the self-confidence of my girl and helped her to change her behavior, also at home. She tried to speak and to write in Hebrew. In the beginning, she was afraid to go top the project to be with Israelis. But now she says that if she can succeed in the project, I can succeed with more activities with Jews. It has given her to think about the future and she wants to study more with Israelis. Yasmin says that Israeli children are like her. There are a few things they can do and a few things they cannot do. The project changed our thinking about Israelis. I really, really hope that other children can have this experience. Thank you for giving us the chance to have this positive experience."
To the Folding Together Team and everyone who was part of it
"We are parents of Yanai. We want to thank you for the wonderful project in which our child took part. Yanai studies in Gilo Aleph school. Everyone knows that the political views of everyone in the school, are different from ours. In the school was a lot of hate for Arabs, and all year we tried to give Yanai a different idea, that religion, gender and nationality are not important. What is important is the person. But only the project made him think differently. He got to know Palestinian children and have positive experiences with them. Now he understands that the most important thing is the person. Thank you very much for the project, needed especially in this hard time. It is important to continue this wonderful project. We hope for peace for everybody. Thank you from our heart, Yoram and Yael."
From the mother of Yasmin and Shuruk
"It was good fun and new for the children to learn origami, a Japanese art. It helped them in school with their concentration and thinking. Before the project they were afraid to meet Jews. To get close to a Jew was the end of the world for them. But after the project, they changed their thinking about Israelis and they understand that the Jewish children were just like them, and that they could even play with them. Now they are more willing to go to Israeli places. I really ask from my heart that you continue the project, so that our children will have positive experiences and will forget their fears. Thank you. Akrim"
From the Parents of Michal
"I want to thank you for letting my child, Michal, to have a wonderful experience in the project. Michal; says that since she came to the project she knows how to fold by herself. She learnt to insist to fold a model until she understands it. Now she does a lot of origami from the internet. Michal visited me at my place of work during the holiday and made a lot of origami for people in my office. She told them about the wonderful experience she had with the Palestinian children. Everyone in my office was impressed by the beautiful models she made and from the way she spoke about Palestinians. Now her opinion comes from her positive experience. Michal also participated in the fourth group. She wants to be an origami leader and can hardly wait to continue. Michal says thanks you to Abeer, Miri, Paul, the Japanese Embassy for the beautiful, rich project."
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