After School Volunteer Program

The chance for a good education is one of the most important requirements for participation in society. This is particularly obvious in places where access to education is not self-evident or the path to education first needs to be created. Centers of Bedouin culture in the Negev region in Israel are locations where carving out such spaces is necessary. The participants of the After School Volunteer Program work towards the goal of improving the educational chances of Bedouin youth. Within the project, initiated by the Bedouin Jewish Center in the Negev, international and Israeli volunteers come to schools in Rahat for one year to assist the teachers and students in English classes and offer cultural and recreational activities. Both sides benefit in various ways.

The students at the center of this program operate daily between different demands. A good command of English is an important prerequisite. This isn’t an easy achievement given that English for the Bedouin youth is their fourth language after Hebrew, an Arabic dialect, and Modern Standard Arabic. The young adult volunteers from Israel, Germany, and other countries, too, take away important lessons from their experience and integrate these into their everyday lives at home. Further, the confrontation with a different culture challenges the volunteers’ understanding of identity and belonging – the same way it does for the students in Rahat.

An intercultural dynamic occurs anew for all participants of the program – but for the moment only in Rahat. An important pilot project, however, the After School Volunteer Program has the potential to become a widespread daily practice.

As a part of the Bedouin Jewish Center’s After School Volunteer Program, the young adult volunteers in Rahat’s schools assist in English classes and offer in addition to this sport, music, drawing and other creative courses. In the period from May 1, 2011 to September 30, 2012, one volunteer from Germany is sponsored. The partner in Germany is Action Reconciliation Service for Peace.