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A Piece of Mine

Project Overview

An educational photography project exploring personal, social and national identities among the youth of a socially and culturally diverse society.

Identifying the Problem

Israeli society is culturally and socially diverse, the result of generations of immigrations whose own experiences and backgrounds have contributed to the complexity of the national identity. The explanation of this identity often varies by generation, and is the result of that generation’s ideas, beliefs and hopes for the future. Tamar wanted to examine the diversity of Israeli society though the eyes of its youth. She wanted to give them the opportunity to inspect their own perceptions of national identity and their individual struggles with cultural and socio-economic differences. She hoped that through this process, the youth could begin to better understand themselves and one another.

Creating A Solution

In order to better understand how Israeli youth conceptualized national identity, Tamar wanted to develop a project that would offer students, ages 13 to 15, the opportunity to explore their personal, social and national identity through workshops encompassing digital photography, the arts, history, class discussions, social activities and excursions. Tamar began by designing the curriculum and reaching out to people and organizations who would be interested in cooperating or funding the project. This process took about six months. She then worked to build a relationship with the local school, invite participants, and arrange all of the logistics for the project.

The name of the project reflects on the idea that any single person is not only informed and shaped by his or her environment, but contributes to his or her surroundings by being part of that environment; the world is a piece of you, as much as you are a piece of the world.  

“A Piece of Mine” facilitated an environment in which questions could be asked freely and students were encouraged to explore their own identities as well as those of their peers. There were some guiding questions to which the students returned every workshop; the questions reflected on the concept of multiple identities. The workshop providers were professional photographers who also worked as social activists and educators. The students learned to develop a personal narrative about their family history, their homes, friends, school and their understanding of the society of which they are a part. The workshops also offered an opportunity to develop and refine photography skills and artistic expression.

Tamar wanted her project to include a final product. “When working with students, it is often very helpful to set a certain goal for them to aspire to,” she says. Thus, Tamar decided to have the workshops culminate in an exhibition of student artwork that answers the following three questions through a personal interpretation:

1. Who am I?

2. What does my social life look like?

3. What does my (home) country look like?

This final exhibition provided an opportunity for the workshop students to share their artwork with their peers and for all of the students to engage in a larger discourse about national identity. “A Piece of Mine” ran for two years, and Tamar hopes to be able to one day implement projects like this in other countries whose diverse populations experience similar difficulties with conceptualizing a national identity.

Lessons Learned

Tamar has the following advice for anyone interested in pursuing a similar project:

  • In addition to thinking about what kind of project you would like to create, don’t neglect to identify the project’s goals. Discussing your ideas with family, friends, peers, Humanity in Action Fellows and colleagues is a great start!
  • Research other similar projects and their developers - partnerships are extremely valuable.
  • Make sure you have a good evaluation plan in place once your project is ongoing; you need to evaluate your project as it progresses in order to make any necessary adjustments. It is also important to ask feedback from your participants and to be open to what can be improved. The team for this project held weekly meetings to evaluate and prepare for the next workshops. “The lessons you learn from this process will help you greatly in applying for new funding, fostering partnerships and sustaining your project,” says Tamar.
  • A good PR strategy is imperative. It will help you connect with all kinds of resources, meet interesting people with valuable ideas, help with future fundraising, spread your mission statement and update participants, followers and donors.
  • Depending on the target group, you have to determine what kind of working/project environment you wish to create. Some projects require that you create a safe space where everybody respects the opinion of others while keeping in mind that opinions can greatly differ.
  • If you are working with students, you need to make it clear what kind of facilitator you are, especially if some topics are difficult to discuss. Students need to know how they can rely on you and how they can approach you.
Funding

In addition to a location, Tamar’s project required workshop providers, digital cameras and art materials. She spent months planning with school representatives about using the campus for the workshops. The school generously donated space for the project, and Tamar fundraised in order to purchase the necessary art materials. All workshop facilitators were contacted either through personal connections or partner organizations. In addition to working closely with Humanity in Action, the Netherlands and the Dutch Senior Fellow Network, Tamar partnered with Omanoot - Israel through ArtLife Tools FoundationStichting Levi Lassen and the Israeli Ministry of Education. Tamar raised a total of $10,000 for this project covering two projects in 2009 and 2010.

Awards & Recognition

“A Piece of Mine” was recognized as an extraordinary Senior Fellow project at the First Annual Humanity in Action International Conference, held in Amsterdam.

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About This Project

HIA Program:

Netherlands Netherlands 2008

Developed by:

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