OneMinutesJr. Workshop Za'atari: Part 1 - Breaking the Ice

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Participants listen to the OneMinutesJr. training.

Participants listen to the OneMinutesJr. training.

The OneMinutesJr. gives youth the opportunity to have their voices heard by creating one minute videos that share their ideas, dreams, fascinations, anxieties and viewpoints on the world. The OneMinutesJr. held a workshop in Zaatari refugee camp, Jordan 18-23 January 2014. Read Part Two and Part Three.

Kids quietly filed into a pre-fabricated caravan for the first day of the OneMinutesJr. workshop. We are in base camp at the Za’atari refugee camp in northern Jordan, and today we begin a workshop on the theme “Our Now, Our Future.”

The kids all live here at Za’atari, some coming almost a year and a half ago. They are all from Syria and the majority have come from Daraa, a city in southwestern Syria, just north of the border with Jordan. The Za’atari camp hosts about 85,000 refugees from the conflict in Syria.

Most of the seventeen participants of the workshop have never held a video camera before and their image-taking experience is mostly limited to mobile phones. Some of the ideas behind creating imagery are fairly distant for them, but we have faith that they will pick it up as the week goes on.

We try to strip down our teachings to the basics to give us more time, but it is still important to convey the essentials of camera shots and storytelling so that they can develop their ideas. Since the kids don’t have any experience in this realm, we end up spending more time than usual to make sure they really understand the concepts.

To get the creative juices flowing, we conduct a free-form drawing exercise that will hopefully produce images to help in our conversations. The longer teaching time, combined with the translation needs and the limited hours in the camp, means that we don’t get to discuss many of the participant’s ideas today. However, the conversations we do have are very enlightening.

A common theme running through our first conversations are how much these kids miss Syria. Many of their drawings are things that they miss or had to leave behind. Mohammed (15) talks about the pot they used for coffee and tea which he would take to the farm, where they grew potatoes, cucumbers and tomatoes. He remembers how many stars he could see at night and the orchards they used to visit. When the violence started, they moved here and he has not seen his friends since. He has 8 brothers and sisters and he tries to be a good role model for them. He teaches them not to throw stones because it is a shame to do so and they will start a conflict. There are many incidents of children throwing stones here and this strikes us as an interesting aspect to show. So, we recruit some of the NGO workers in the base camp to act in the film. Watch it.

Batoul (14) wrote a beautiful text about her love for Syria. “I always think that Syria is paradise. I always imagine myself going back to Syria. The memories of Syria are great in my heart.” She talks about her memory of the sun and when we point out that it is the same sun here, she says “This sun is not the Syrian sun. Here the sun is just like any sun.” Even with her strong memories, she also points out that it’s more important to focus on the future: “Even if I can’t go back to Syria, I will have to deal with it.” She tries not to have free time and reads a lot to learn about different cultures so she can fit into this society. We are struck by the idea of the sun being different and decide with Batoul to focus on this concept. Watch it.

Mazoun (16) is very well-spoken, which is not surprising considering she wants to become a journalist. Her goal is to focus on the future and she believes if you overcome the changes, you feel the joy of life…because the joy comes after effort. She has already faced a lot in her life, and has felt this sentiment in reality. When she was going to school in Syria, bombs were going off, but it didn’t stop her from going. And here in Za’atari she is committed to going to school because she thinks it’s very important. Since she wants to become a reporter, we ask her to interview the kids in the group about their happy and sad moments, and also what they want to be in the future. Watch it.

Much more talking needs to happen on the second day, but if we’re lucky, we might get to start filming something.

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