Friday, April 15, 2011

Berlin: JSC Midyear Conference

Painting of Israeli and German flags on Berlin Wall

Michele and I had the opportunity to attend the Jewish Service Corps Midyear Training Seminar in Berlin this past week. It was great to be able to step away from our work and placement sites to reflect from afar. It was also amazing to meet with around twenty-five other people who have different placement sites around the world. Besides Rwanda, the fellows are working in Argentina, India, Russia, Germany, Ukraine, Serbia, Turkey, Estonia, Poland, and Israel.

JSC fellows explore Berlin. Here we examine a monument
dedicated to to people who fled or were taken
 from their homes during WWII and the Holocaust.

As much as I enjoyed the delights of the Western developed world, like cheese, apples, and hot water, I will miss the people the most. I did not know any of the other JSC fellows before, but the bonds formed quickly due to shared purpose and similar challenges. It struck me at the end of the conference that it was probably the only time that this particular group would be in the same room together. It is sad to think that this gathering was a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, but it was the highlight of my trip to be part of an exciting interaction among young, motivated, and passionate people.

A painting on the Berlin Wall depicting a man
climbing over the Berlin Wall. 

In our closing session, we were given fifteen minutes or so to create something that reflects on our work and the conference. I wrote these two acrostic poems:

Rice, beans, and bananas
Walk everywhere
Amahoro (peace, in Kinyarwandan)
Never again (all genocides must stop)
Day by day living
Agahozo (a place where tears are dried, in Kinyarwandan)

Berlin has brought
Everyone together from
Round the world where we are
Learning from each other about
Impacts we probably can’t yet see but
Nevertheless are making.

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