Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Heeding the Call: A Program on Justicemaking for Junior High School Youth

Activity 1: Time and Memory

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • One penny and pencil for each participant
  • Plain paper
  • Magnifying glasses
  • Leader Resource 1, Timeline
  • Leader Resource 2, For Every

Preparation for Activity

  • Replicate the timeline from Leader Resource 1, Timeline, on newsprint.
  • Read Leader Resource 2, For Every, until you are comfortable presenting it.
  • Cut each sheet of paper into four equal parts. Have enough quarter sheets for each participant to receive three.

Description of Activity

Youth explore the meaning of memories while giving a brief overview of the conflict between Israel and Palestine in order to set the stage for the story, "The Village That Could."

Ask participants to share what they know about the Middle East conflict between Israel and Palestine. Affirm their level of knowledge. Invite everyone to view the timeline on the wall. Seek volunteers to read the points.

After reading all the points on the timeline, read Leader Resource 2, For Every, aloud. Mention that the timeline has several facts and dates, but does not include everything that plays into this conflict. The piece just added about memories is also not exhaustive. This is a complex issue and only the surface is being explored. Remind participants that they can look to Taking It Home for more information.

Share the following remarks and questions:

  • Is the conflict between the Jews and the Palestinians a political conflict, ethnic conflict, a religious conflict, or all three?
  • People not immediately involved might look at the situation very differently from those with intimate memories of past joys or concerns. What are your feelings about the conflict? Remind participants that not everyone will have the same opinion and that this activity is not a debate. No matter how youth feel about the conflict, hopefully everyone can agree that a peaceful solution to the conflict must be found.

Introduce an activity called "The Memory Game" in which participants examine the layers that make up memories of even the smallest of things. This is based on an activity from Teaching Economics as if People Mattered: A High School Curriculum Guide to The New Economy by Tamara Sober Giecek (Boston: United for a Fair Economy, 2000). Used by permission.

Everyone receives a pencil and a square piece of paper (about 4 inches x 4 inches). Invite the youth to draw the front of a penny on one side of the paper and the back of a penny on the other side. Encourage them not to focus on the drawing as a piece of art. This is about their memories and what details they remember about something they have seen and touched many times throughout their lives. Allow a few minutes to complete the drawings. Ask youth to write their names on the paper and then collect them.

Give everyone a second piece of paper and a penny. Give them a few minutes to repeat the drawing using the penny as a resource for details. Ask them to again write their names on the paper before collecting them. Let youth keep the penny.

Finally, give them a third piece of paper and a magnifying glass. Give them a few minutes to repeat the drawing using the magnifying glass to discover even more details on the penny.

Once they finish the third drawing, return the first two and invite them to discuss the differences they see among the three. Ask, "How does this relate to the power of memories? Is there more to our memories than even what we remember?" Acknowledge that memory can go back many generations. This is one roadblock to peace in the Middle East. Ask if there have been times in their life when conflicting memories caused a problem or when memories of a wrong done to them made it hard to work or live with someone else. Tell them that in a future workshop, they will explore forgiveness, a capacity which can help us get past hurtful memories.