The general aim of the Youth House is to encourage Palestinian youth (6-25) from the larger Bethlehem area, and of different gender, background and religion, to “breathe,” mingle, enjoy, find orientation, participate, communicate and take joint responsibility for new and creative activities..Moreover, the various projects conducted in the House, and now increasingly out of the House will be designed to promote civic values of tolerance, democratic interaction, knowledge of and respect for diversity, and environmental care.
The Youth House provides socio-cultural, arts, advocacy and sports activities for the youth and organizes a youth management training for the older youth to take on leadership roles.
As part of the Youth House activities, AEI has formed children groups to prepare musical performances for especially the summer school and the Sumud Festival that AEI organizes in the summer near the Separation Wall. A special outreach program helps to connect the AEI youth with various community centers around Bethlehem.
Background: Youth activation and leadership program
The Youth House activities are part of AEI’s youth leadership and activation program.
Targeting Palestinian youth from 6 years on in the Bethlehem-Hebron area, this educational program follows three stages which build upon each other and encourage its trainees to reach different levels of maturity, skills and responsibilities:
- Activating youth and building management leadership skills through in-house workshops and discussions.
- Encouraging the youth to take responsibility and gain experience in setting up socio-cultural activities in the Youth House.
- Transmitting experiences and skills to new groups of youth leaders outside the Youth House, and to establish mutually productive exchanges of experiences.
In general, AEI’s youth groups practice a holistic approach involving
- Bodily and sense activation in sports, fieldtrips and singing/playing music
- Appreciating beauty in Palestine
- Learning more about Palestine, its history, religions and culture
- Discussing and solving problems in daily life
- Sharing (religious) celebrations
- Learning from foreign cultures and seeing oneself in the mirror of others
- Some fun and leisure
- Meditative meetings reading texts from the holy books or from wisdom and non-violence traditions (according to the Read, Reflect, Communicate and Act method)
The Youth Management Training focuses in addition on creating active roles for youth in community work including AEI projects but also outreach projects with external partners.