I walked into a shipping trailer parked on the ground outside a museum and stepped into an immersive audio visual technology. It looked like I stepped into a room with half a dozen young people, only they were half a world away in Gaza City, Palestine. The magic of Shared Studio portals.
We were very happy to see each other and to learn from everyone. They were in one portal and I in another.
I told them about Ultimate Peace, a project that brings Israeli and Palestinian kids together for a camp where they learn to play the field sport Ultimate Frisbee. The sport has no officials so you have to work out your differences on the field. Many great lessons learned there. The kids play on the same team and then go on tour to play in other countries. Even the girls looked a little excited.
They told me about Seeds of Peace, a project that brings Palestinian and Israeli kids together in Maine, USA. They knew about it, but hadn’t attended. I think they liked the idea that Ultimate Peace is closer to them. I like that I might be able to go to camp next summer and then visit my new friends in Gaza.
When Ahkmed asked me what I do, I explained I am a writer and a teacher and that I bring therapeutic poetry writing to people who are having a difficult time. Folks who are homeless or in a psychiatric ward, for instance. They understood that poetry writing can make you feel better, so we wrote a poem!
Our PoemBefore I met you, I hadn’t met you.
I met you, and I was shocked.
I was surprised it was day time where you are, too.
And Yasmin sang a beautiful song,
We met with music in the sun.
A song was played by our eye contact.
It was just a song, but it made us fall in love.
It was the first love song.
Your were the note in which I wrote my song,
I was only the pen.
I can’t believe where my mind has been!
My mind has been to Gaza this morning
Our minds have been to Colorado tonight.
They say that love was born in France, but today it is born between us.
It is the first time I found a place where I belong.
As poems go, it has its moments, but it is not ready for an anthology. We ooohhhed and aaahhhed as lines came together. We wrote in English, my language, and I heard the Arabic idioms and turns of phrase become my language, really our language together.
And we all felt much better. They sang songs to me – a love song and the Palestinian national anthem. I told them that a woman wrote one of our national songs here in Colorado Springs about our mountain, Pikes Peak. Then Max, the person running the portal on Colorado, sang “America the Beautiful” to them with his lovely tenor voice. We were spellbound.
Our time ended and as I waved goodbye, I promised to gather up a group of Quakers to come visit them next time. And there will be a next time. The Share Studio portal will be in town for a few more weeks.
It is hard to explain why this forty minutes was so important to everyone involved. I am changed by it. I am now willing to go as far as I can for those young people, just as I am for the street people I work with in my own town. I know them a bit; I know their faces. I heard them laugh.
I looked in their eyes and they into mine.
photo by: Max Ferguson