Ramallah: Children Construct their own Jerusalem in the Nuwar Nissan (April Blossoms) Festival
17 April 2018
Cautiously, children selected the best spot to place the gypsum and mosaic windows, which they created. Do they want to hang these near to the Moroccan Gate or the Damascus Gate? They constructed their own Jerusalem on a mural, which represented a map of the capital. This activity was part of Our Children Construct It, an event of the Nuwar Nissan (April Blossoms) festival. Organised on Friday, 13 April 2018, the event was observed in the old city of Ramallah.
The 7th edition of the Nuwar Nissan festival was titled Seven Gates, drawing a reference to the open gates of the old city of Jerusalem. The festival featured art exhibitions and workshops in both Ramallah and Jerusalem over three days, 13-15 April.
The mural of Our Children Construct It was a collective work, created piece by piece by the children and their parents. Residents of the neighbourhood joined the children and were part of the event. Three institutions combined their activities to present the architecture of Jerusalem. The Young Artists Forum, RIWAQ – Centre for Architectural Conservation, and A. M. Qattan Foundation (AMQF) presented three main elements of the Jerusalem architecture, namely, mosaic, tile painting, and gypsum windows.
Children simulated gypsum windows with the team of the Science Studio, a project of the AMQF Educational Research and Development Programme (ERDP). Children explored the beauty of coloured glass and represented its architectural design on coloured transparent paper, allowing as much lighting as possible and maintaining light reflection, and colourful shades.
The Science Studio exhibited its participation in Nuwar Nissan at its premises on Saturday and Sunday, 14 and 15 April 2018. The Science Studio hosted and engaged children, families, and teachers in a variety of events, which the Science Studio team had prepared jointly with a group of teachers in preparatory encounters over the past months. Teachers took part in the Integrative Learning through Interactive Science Exhibits, a winter course offered by the ERDP early this year.
Samar Kirresh, Senior Researcher at the Science Studio, stated that the overall objective of the Nuwar Nissan festival and Science Studio events was to invoke Jerusalem, altogether with its handcrafts, arts and sciences, in its social and historical context. Participants made and learned to carve and colour Jerusalem wax. They learned about and experimented constructing arches and domes using cardboard boxes. Participants also learned about electroplating, used in the jewellery industry in the capital city. Children experimented plating metal rings with brass to make necklaces.
Children also heard the sounds of the old city of Jerusalem. In this context, children participated in an event tailored to describe sound movement and vibration in different mediums. Children made utterances through the mouth of a bottle, which contained salt water. Particles of the salt vibrated depending on the sound. A participant shouted through the bottle: “Kaek! Kaek el-Quds” [Sesame Seed Jerusalem Bagels].
Iyad Rabee’, a participant in the preparatory encounters and events, said: “In conjunction with the encounters, 45 students of the Science Club at the Al-Adhamiya Secondary Boys School in Beit Hanina designed domes and a six-metre high arch. Students made a field visit to a mosque construction site in Ramallah and viewed the dome’s design and centre of gravity.” According to Rabee’, children organised a seminar on the Jerusalem walls, arousing their passion and curiosity.
Taking place at the Science Studio, the last day of the Nuwar Nissan festival was dedicated to host school students to experiment science exhibits, which were designed by exhibit developers at the Science Studio. These exhibits combined the themes of Shadow and Light as well as Movement and Stillness. The team uses, analyses and builds on students’ interaction as a main source of feedback about the exhibits
Ghadeer al-Abed, a teacher at the Atara Girls Schools, stated that the exhibits allowed her and her students to think of the scientific principle of each exhibit. She explained that the exhibits did not give ready access to information, but urged one to think. Every inquiry has many probable answers as each visitor thinks in their own way.
The Nuwar Nissan Festival is organised by several institutions, including the Ramallah Municipality, AMQF, Goethe Institute, Tamer Institute for Community Education, Ramallah First Group, Al Nayzak Organisation for Supportive Education and Scientific Innovation, Young Artists Forum, and Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre.