From 25th to 28th of September, the Betzavta training course “Insieme!” has taken place at the German Naturefriends’ House in Feldberg. The house is in the Black Forest, surrounded by mountains with many trekking trails. “Insieme!” was a collaboration project of GIAN-Giò and NFJD and the initial idea of the project was born when Janinka, an active member of NFJD, came to participate in our 5th national gathering in the last December at the house Alexander Langer in Saviore. Janinka coordinated with Cristina to make the project with the safety measure for the Covid-19, including the distancing and the use of masks.
GIAN-Giò sent 5 participants, including Christian from GIAN and 10 more came from all over Germany. Within the German participants, there was Jannis who participated in our 4th national gathering at Il Vile in Volterra, and Tilo who came to celebrate the ceremony of GIAN’s 40th anniversary at Gran Pino in 2018. It was a great group for the training of “Insieme!”, the training of Betzavta – the word originally comes from Hebrew meaning “togetherness”.
On our arrival to the Naturefriends’ House the lingering drizzle turned into snow. As if a theater welcomes its characters with scattering the snow flurry, the Black Forest placed us on the stage of Betzavta under a romantic effect.
The Betzavta is a method of learning democracy, which was developed in Israel for political education work for the Israelis and Palestinian children, and then adapted in Germany in 1990s before renowned internationally.
The Betzavta training method consists of a series of activities of interactive group tasks followed by a reflection session. The interactive tasks were simple yet well-structured to create light dilemmas and conflicts in each participant and then being shared in a whole group transparently, while the reflection sessions were well-guided by the trainers for us to reflect on what triggered us to act or react in certain ways during the tasks.
Janinka, with an assist of her sister Mania, guided us throughout the course of the training, starting with sending us one by one to the dark forest on the first night. In the forest we followed a light of the candles placed on top of a piece of paper, written such questions like “If you are a book, would you read it?”, “When was the last time you experienced discrimination?” They told us to contemplate on them. We pondered in dark
and wandered towards lights. It was the beginning of our journey together.
The outdoor activities and energizers were organized by GIAN-Giò team. Thanks to them, the personal and collective dilemma from Betzavta activities were well melted for us to absorb well. We had fun, made the best snow statue, prayed over the smoke of the white sage, went hiking in the white mountains and laughed out loud.
Both German and Italian participants together, we came up with and discussed various creative ideas for GIAN-Giò and NFJD to coordinate the future projects together and to bond stronger.
The thick crowd which left snow on the ground up to the height of our knees in that weekend was not there anymore in the morning on Monday. The caretaker of the house told us that in the last 50 years this was the first year to have that much snow in September, and he took off to the bike ride to the snowy mountain. Looking at him, pedaling away to the shining white panorama, it occurred to me that the snow flurry outside during the training did not only bring the romantic effect for the activities but also appeared as the manifestation of the shift of our mind on Betzavta: from lightly burruared, to thickly white out, and to sunnily reflective.
Ono Mitsutake (Blitz)