What can learn from Ma’ase?
April 9 and 10, Indianapolis played host to members of the Israeli nongovernmental organization Ma’ase. Volunteerism and service to the community is at the center of Ma’ase’s work with Jewish, Arab, and Druze youth who have been marginalized.
Ma’ase describes themselves:
Ma’ase works with young adults from the periphery for the good of the periphery through volunteer-year programs. This creates opportunities for interaction between all sectors of the population, promoting a healthy diversity within society.
Our working model is based on research from Israel and abroad showing how volunteering is a significant means of strengthening informal skills and promoting equal opportunity.
All our participants volunteer in the community and participate in group encounters to discuss the Israeli society.http://maase.org.il/en/home-page/
While they were in Indy, Aaron Welcher was their guide. We asked Aaron about their visit, and about what we here in Indy can earn from them.
What surprised you about Ma’ase or the reaction they evoked from the crowd?
I think the most surprising thing for me was how much their year of volunteer impacted their trajectory in life. Both of the youth who came to Indianapolis came from communities in Israel that have a lot of hardship both economically and geographically. Their volunteer year inspired them not only to become leaders but also really made them want to start working on projects that get all Israelis to meet know each other from all backgrounds.
What could groups working with multi-faith groups in Indy learn from them?
I think the biggest take away from these speakers is that having conversations and meeting people where they are and with respect goes a long way. While a Muslim person was not on this speaking trip one of the Israelis talked about a time where she and a Muslim member of your group had a discussion on complex issues going on in their (Israeli) society. They were able to talk and see each other’s pain from the conflict because they had gotten to know each other first.
How important is service for these young people?
Service is a great medium to be able to craft dialogue. It puts everyone on the same team with the common goal being to help make the world a better place. I think that we need to start working on bringing more service project that mix diverse people together back into many of our communities especially with the hyperpolarization of our society.