Sports and practical work experience

Students watch as a teacher demonstrates a technique in the carpentry workshop. The summer camp encouraged girls and boys to also explore career choices beyond those stereotypically assigned to their gender. Photo: LWF Jerusalem

LWF summer camp provides career orientation for youth in Beit Hanina, Palestine

Inspired by the Mahatma Gandhi’s motto, “The brain must be educated through the hand,” young people aged 13-17 years from different places in East Jerusalem took part in a summer camp of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Vocational Training Center in Beit Hanina, East Jerusalem, in August. The objective of the one-week course was to give young people the opportunity to discover their talents and skills in different fields of work.

During the summer camp, the 27 female and 62 male participants had the chance to take part in career guidance and counseling sessions, sport exercises and a practical phase of working in a workshop, like carpentry, plumbing or ceramics. Towards the end of the week the youth had the chance to work on one concrete project in areas like catering, electrical and metal work, and automotive repair. “This is an exciting new approach which we have designed here,” says Yousef Shalian, Vocational Training Program Director of the LWF, “we let the youth experience their skills for one week in a very practical manner.”

In the beginning, all participants received an orientation to all workshops available in the Vocational Training Center, took an aptitude test, took part in sports activities and did hands-on work in the various workshops. The aim was to support the young people in the possibilities and different options of vocational education, but also to explore career options outside their comfort zone. “It was such an amazing experience to go into a workshop where there are normally only male students and to work side by side with them,” one female participant, 16 years, says.

Teaching skills through sports

A new and vital component of the summer camp was the Sport for Development approach. The approach utilizes sport as a means to teach personal and social competences (soft skills) such as teamwork, communication and decision-making – aspects that are fundamental in developing a career. The sport activities in the summer camp were meant to highlight the fact that sometimes there is a wide gap between dreams and reality, but also that with ambition, team spirit and training it is possible to attain one’s goals.

To many trainees, sports activities make vocational education more attractive, but also indirectly support successful completion of the program. The Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has been implementing the Sport for Development Program in the Palestinian territories since late 2014 on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). In the summer camp, the sports activities were conducted together with coaches from the local organization Palestine Sports for Life who had been trained by the GIZ before. LWF teachers have started using the approach in the Vocational Training Centre’s running school year which started this September.

The LWF is committed to the empowerment of young Palestinian women and men. “The summer camp was a very good experience with this combination of career counselling and sports,” Rev. Mark Brown, LWF Country Representative in Jerusalem, says.  “We plan to organize more camps and activities focusing on career orientation and utilizing the Sport for Development approach.”

The Education Initiative Madrasati Palestine supported the summer camp with cultural activities, like folkloric dance and drama.