Letter from the Desert: May Garces writes from Israel
A note from May Garces, a Melton Fellow and artist from Temuco, Chile, who is currently in Israel, interning with the Arava Institute of Environemntal Studies.
February 22, 2014
Hola querida familia Melton,
As I told you a while back, thanks to the Melton Foundation’s Granty and to a grant from a Jewish agency, I am an Intern at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies in Kibbutz Ketura, Israel, for the Spring 2014 semester.
I’ve been here for a few days enjoying Orientation week, learning about kibbutz community life, planting acacia trees in the dessert, going on bike rides to archaeological sites, organizing the academic courses that I’ll be assisting in and seeing the surface of the delicate atmosphere of harmony that reigns in these first encounters.
The 40 interns and students come from Jordan, Germany, Palestine, Russia, USA, Sweden and more. They are Israelis and Arabs, Jewish, Muslims and secular, and we’ve had very interesting exchanges that, I will share with you eventually. I haven-t figured out if I will do this through a blog or something similar or if I will focus on this in the Melton Foundation related projects that I came to develop. We’ll see.
For now I tell you a little bit of what I am doing here:
I am taking classes at the Institute: the Peace building Seminar, Conflict and Cooperation in environmental studies and Alternative Energy (for this last class I am also the teacher assistant).
I work for the Center for Sustainable Development doing office work, now mostly designing the signs for the research and visitor’s park.
I am taking Hebrew language lessons and participating in the unique non-religious socialist collective community life.
Besides this I am doing online work for the MF developing some projects.
This has been an intense experience so far! It’s intense and beautiful to be in the desert. I can see 2 Jordanian Beduin (indigenous tribe) settlements from my room and Sinai in Egypt is just about two hours away. When we talk about peace with people in these challenging situations, most of the times it leads to cynicism, frustration and sadness. Especially from the Palestinian side. I am sure, now more than ever, that peace is not a passive element but an active component in our interaction with people. I’ll keep exploring ways to ignite it among groups but for now I keep doing this through art. Much peace from the desert.