So on Tuesday I went to the Carmel Market and craft market to try and talk to some Taglit/Birthright groups. I went out with the other intern Josep and we took some flyers for the West Bank tour that Windows offers. It's a free tour that we offer to Taglit members (and any one else who wants to go) to educate people about the West Bank and the Palestinians and their living situation.
It was awkward when I started as I didn't want to step on any toes or offend the people I was talking to. A lot of people that go on birth right are very biased in favor of Israel, not that its a bad thing, but it makes them reluctant sometimes to consider other points of view. The birth right tours are geared towards teaching Jewish heritage, and covertly trying to get kids to make Aliyah which means the information they give out is very pro-Israel.
I started out just asking them how they were, how they liked Israel and tried to move gradually to the topic. Most people seemed leary at first but they seemed receptive to the idea of learning about the West Bank. It was really amazing I didn't get any true negative responses.
Emily said that I must have really presented the idea in a diplomatic way, as any time she has tried people aren't very receptive. There was a down side though, Josep was really uncomfortable and he got a little upset with me because he wanted to watch me talk to people, but he didn't tell me. So I was a little upset with him because he was blaming me for his nervousness. We had split up to cover more ground. He found me later and said he was incredibly uncomfortable so I told him to head back to the office as people could see how nervous he was. I think he was a little worried about the cultural differences and I think he didn't want to get yelled at. Josep is not very good with... challenges sometimes and I think he doesn't like pushing the envelope.
It was hard to estimate the number of people I talked to as I mostly talked to groups and I didn't take the business cards I had made. I printed flyers that morning to hand out. I printed 50 and came back with 30 so it went pretty well. I discovered that it's easy to talk to the kids when the leaders aren't around also. The leaders weren't as receptive and told me the kids couldn't just extend their flights, it wasn't that easy (as a way to try and get me off their case). It's a learning process, now I know not to talk to the youth if the leaders are there.
All in all, I'm really happy that I was able to stick it out and talk to people. I felt like they were all really nice and receptive to the idea. No one was out and out rude or mean to me, but I also watched other people trying to hand out flyers or get petitions signed realized I had much better luck. I think I had such a good experience because I actually talked to the groups instead of shoving flyers in the faces and lecturing them.
Hopefully I can get a lot of the staff to go with me so they can either observe me or strike out on their own.
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