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“Peace path through Cinema” – Trip to Italy (UNDP)

By Localiban | - last updated :

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From the 14th to the 26th of November 2008, Lebanese
youngsters from South Lebanon, members of the youth groups
established by UNDP South Lebanon office, went for a mission
to Italy in the cities of Gorizia and Venise as part of the Programme des Nations Unies pour le développement (PNUD) UNDP
Art Gold program. Nine youngsters from LibanLebanon and nineteen
from Italy aged between 18 to 25 years old attended an
intercultural workshop entitled “Peace path trough cinema”
where the youngsters were initiated to cinematographic technical
basis to create, manage and realize a film. The project helps the
youngsters to reflect on peace inside schools, society, and
human relationships through the cinematographic language. The
second stage of the workshop will take place in Liban Lebanon where
each participant will teach the shooting techniques learned in
Italy to their youth groups and will produce a short movie
projecting the youngsters’ villages and livelihoods through the
young’s eyes. The final output of this work will be later presented at the Venise International
Cinema Festival, one of the most important cinema festivals in Europe.
The project allowed youngsters to share their daily stories as well as to promote the
development of peace, solidarity, friendship and cooperation between Italian and Lebanese
communities by a common, coordinated and shared project.

14th November- Beyrouth Beirut International Airport 5 am : The nine Lebanese youngsters were
overexcited, “I was so afraid to miss the plane and to ignore my alarm; I preferred to stay awake
all night” said Charbel. For most of the participants this trip was their first out of the country, and
surely their first towards Europe: “We are only two Lebanese girls going for this trip, it is the first
time I travel and my parents were very encouraging, I actually can’t describe my feelings; the
whole experience is overwhelming and completely new for me. I am afraid to see better things
in Italy and keep comparing them to Liban Lebanon, but I will
use this as an opportunity to improve Liban Lebanon” Diana
declared. Hassan, who already travelled to Jordan with
UNDP, is confident that this experience “will be very
rewarding”, he is sure that he “will learn a lot” and
hopes hat this project will help attract new activities
and funds to the South. Lamice is looking forward for
meeting new people, she is eager to learn new skills
and apply them in Lebanon; she insists that what is
more important to her is to have new friends within the
Lebanese group “ we do not know each others well, and we are so different even if we are all
Lebanese”. Nevertheless, Lamice is afraid of prejudice and discrimination against her, she is the
only veiled girl among the participants “I am afraid of people’s first impression, but I will make
sure to make myself know regardless of my veil” she proudly declared. Full of mixed emotions the young Lebanese joyfully entered the departure gate with their last instantaneous words
directed towards the loved ones they were leaving behind: “tell my mom I love her”, “take care
of Lebanon when I am gone”.

26 November- rubrique 150">Beirut International Airport 7pm : The Lebanese group is back to their home
country. Their eyes are glowing, they seem as if they have loads of things to say but lack the
words to express their feelings, they look different; something enormous has certainly affected
them the past two weeks. “It is so weird” said Mohamad confused “I don’t know if I should be
happy to come back or sad to leave the Italian group”, “this is so unrealistic and unimaginable, I
still can’t realize that Me, a young Lebanese from the South, just went through this dream
experience” he exclaimed. One of the most important lessons Mohamad learned was discipline;
“the Lebanese group was convincingly stopping at the
red lights in Italy” he added amused. Lamice’s parents
were so proud of their daughter “she is a very
courageous Arab lady” said her father. Lamice directly
replied to her father’s remark “my veil was what made
me special, people were interested in me and were
curious to know more”, “I was so proud to represent
my people and correct the wrong picture people
abroad tend to have about Arabs”, “people there
understood me and respected my traditions and
believes”, “Charbel is now one of my best friends” she also added while friendlily hugging
Charbel smiling next to her. The youngsters were eager to spend time with their relatives and
share with them their pictures and adventures; they still had a long road trip to reach their
houses in the South.

28 December, Broummana : Even a month after their return from Italy, the group seems still
overwhelmed by their Italian experience; something special was obviously linking them. They all
agreed that the most rewarding experience was the intercultural and friendship relations they
built. “The first five minutes when we met the Italians were the worst” Mohamad admitted, the
atmosphere was tensed and no one knew what to say to break the ice; Italians were taking in
Italian and Lebanese were talking in Arabic. It
only took us 15 minutes to commit to only speaking
in English as a common language. With time,
Lebanese learned Italian words while Italians
learned Arabic as well as the Lebanese traditional
dancing. Charbel was specifically amazed by how
close the two cultures and traditions turned out to
be “ I felt that the only thing separating us was the
language”, he explained that once he missed the
bus with all the team inside, “a car realized that I
was confused and proposed to drive me to destination, I was not scared for a second, I felt
secure and at home”. With time, both group learned to know each others and corrected the
prejudice they both had. Italian thought that all Lebanese were Muslims, wearing veils and
traditional clothing, terrorists and educationally behind, “they were surprised we had laptops and that we were computer literate! We were even able to teach them some computer tricks”.
Furthermore, after the Lebanese shared their villages’ pictures, explained about tourism in
LibanLebanon and detailed the events of the 2006 war, Italians were shocked by how much the
media could twist realities. From the other side, Lebanese thought that Italians will be showing
off and will be having a patronizing attitude towards the Lebanese.

However, the Lebanese were not expecting to have gays among Italian participants, they were
astonished by how humanly gays were treated In Italy “we make fun of them and even hate
them in LibanLebanon, it is one of our biggest taboos”, “now, when I will come across a gay person in
Lebanon I will respect him” declared Mohamad approved by the others. Moreover, Linda,
among the Italians, was always sitting behind. Later, the Lebanese found out that she was
afraid to interact with them because she was Jewish. The Lebanese took the initiative to
reassure her “we treat people as
individuals, we are aware that even
among the Israelis many do not agree
with their government’s actions”.

The last day in Italy was tough, the
Italian woke up very early to say
goodbye and many were crying. “I know
that it might be easy to collect money
and get a ticket to Italy, however, it is
impossible to duplicate the spirit and
atmosphere we shared” said sadly
Charbel. The youngsters are currently
daily communicating by phone and thank to facebook. Italians are gathering funds to travel to
Lebanon and the Lebanese are ready to receive them in their homes. In the meantime, the
Lebanese are spreading their experience with their youth groups and looking forward for the
second stage of their workshop to start, confident that they should not loose hope of another
similar experience to happen.