“You are welcome here”
On Thursday, the Lights, Camera, Learn team finished the first of our six summer programs. Exhausted but inspired, our team spent the weekend backing up footage and behind-the-scenes photographs, and exploring the cities of Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. We recapped the week on our rides across the region.
Our team of nine, supported by local friends and educators, found a way to navigate the triple-threat challenge of filmmaking, working with kids, and overcoming a language barrier. This session will be the biggest of our entire summer: a program of over 60 kids from ages 8 to 12, across all levels of English proficiency. And yet despite the challenges, we wrote, directed, and produced six different films — in five days.
Kids and educators alike shared laughs, cries, setbacks, and celebrations, and by the end of the session, had grown in ways they couldn’t have foreseen. For some of our kids, this was their first chance to speak with native English speakers. For many more, it was their first chance to get in front of a camera and have their ideas explored. For both our team of interns and our groups of kids, it was a week of discovery.
We watched as the kids who stayed shy and quiet on Day 1 broke out of their shell and shined on camera by Day 5. The kids who already had a handle on the language played the role of Assistant Director and sound Operator, aiding our directors and educators in communicating with their classmates, dropping the slate, and even holding the boom pole while our directors of photography captured the action.
As we looked through the footage from our first program, our team was reminded of our own childhoods: when it was that we all found our passion for film. For most of us it was when we were 11 — the same age of the kids we are now working with. If we thought we were cool when we were 11, then these kids are the coolest on the planet. Not only are these kids facing their fears, working with foreigners, and sharing their creativity, they are doing all of this in a new language.
On Sunday we get started on our second five-day session with an entirely new group of bright kids. We’ll bring four more scripts to life, and on May 21st, we host the first Red Carpet Event of the summer.
Every day we are learning new things: what life is like here, the differences between our many cultures, but also what we have in common. Perhaps the most common realization that our team has had is that in all the places we’ve traveled around the world (and ours is a well-traveled group), we’ve never met a more welcoming culture. So many people, from our sponsors, to our new friends, to the random people we meet on the street, have said to us and on more than one occasion, “You are welcome here.”
Our friends and hosts demonstrate it to us every day: they bring us food while we are working, they invite us to into their homes to meet their families, they teach us their dances, language, and customs. And they expect no thanks, only that we share with them these experiences.
As our Nazareth Program hits the halfway point, we’re looking forward to what adventures and realizations we’re sure to have in the coming weeks.