A new departure in the area of exchange programs between Germany and Israel: young adults between 18 and 30 arrive in Germany for one year to work as a volunteer in educational, cultural or ecological projects, in community projects or memorial sites. In spite of flourishing contacts between both countries, this was not always self evident. For decades now, around 900 volunteers annually have made their way from Germany to Israel. However, movement in the other direction has never been popular. Thanks to the work of twenty different youth and volunteer organizations both in Germany and Israel – this is now changing.
Young adults coming from Israel can look forward to a diverse range of experiences from their stay and volunteer work in Germany. This applies not only broadly to the different challenges visible in civil society but also to a more personal or individual level. Thus, this program offers ideal conditions for both the volunteers and the participating institutions to learn from shared discussions of concrete realities and lively dialogues on the ground.
Kom-Mit-Nadev is an invitation to an intense encounter – as is the case of the volunteers in their confrontation with a society whose current challenges may resemble their own, as much as it is for the participating institutions and projects now confronted with an outside perspective that enables new viewpoints. As a result, the Israeli volunteers take their experiences back home and incorporate them into their daily lives – just as those who worked closely with them will do much the same. These encounters lead to new paths and possibilities within German-Israeli relations that will ultimately work their way deeply into both societies.
This is an important contribution to mutual understanding and a coming together in the face of the historical connection between both states – while at the same time going much further with its contribution. The shared engagement for the needs and interests of culture and politics, the environment and non-profit sector work underlines the importance of a strong civil society. Today, civil society is increasingly confronted with questions that can no longer be resolved nationally but instead in solutions that transcend the confines of the nation-state. To this end, intercultural competency is the keyword and, therefore, a central objective of a German-Israeli volunteer program.
Kom-Mit-Nadev is a bilateral program for Israeli volunteers. On the German side, it is run by the Protestant Academy of Saxony-Anhalt in cooperation with ConAct – coordination center for German-Israeli youth exchange. On the Israeli side, the project is run by the Israel Youth Exchange Council. Participating organizations and the program offices in each country supervise the volunteers during their stay in Germany. They also organize preparation seminars and advisory services in addition to providing support and direction for the volunteers’ time in Germany and upon their return to Israel.
Program Office in Germany:
c/o ConAct – Coordination Center
German-Israeli Youth Exchange
Program Office in Israel:
Israel Youth Exchange Council
Keren Pardo / Omer Benziony
Project Coordinators Kom-Mit-Nadev