Abby: Onward Participant Spotlight - 08/04/2017
Hi! My name is Abby Nikiforovs and I am a rising senior at the Ohio State University, studying International Relations and Diplomacy and Hebrew. This summer, I am interning [through Onward Israel] at a documentary film development company called Greenhouse. Each year, the program helps first and second time documentary filmmakers from the Middle East and North Africa develop a documentary and improve their film making skills through three successive workshops in Morocco. Greenhouse students are provided with lectures and seminars from experts and mentors in the field to assist development and production.
The films cover a wide range of topics but ultimately are to promote peace – through both visual communication and by bringing filmmakers from the MENA region together, all of who are passionate about the work they do. One of my favorite parts about working with Greenhouse was going to the world premiere of a Greenhouse-produced film, titled “In Her Footsteps” at the 34th Jerusalem Film Festival. It was a very unique and special experience to see the beautiful work that Greenhouse does on the big screen.
Outside of my internship, I’m also having really remarkable experiences with Onward. This week, on Monday, we traveled to Gush Etzion, a city in the West Bank. In the morning, we hiked a path that was one of the most important trade route highways in biblical times. Our tour guide explained the economic and geographical significance of that highway, and why it was such valuable land to own. We then went to a small Jewish neighborhood and climbed to a scenic view at one of the highest points in the land. We could see the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, various Jewish and Arab villages, and on a clear day, one can see all the way to Tel Aviv. We then ate a “light lunch” and had a little wine tasting at the Gush Etzion winery.
Finally, the highlight of the day for me was going to a farm and listening to lectures from a Rabbi and Palestinian from a program called Shorashim (roots). It is a grassroots campaign dedicated to connecting Israelis and Palestinians to promote understanding and peace between the two cultures through dialogue and nonviolence. It was truly fascinating to hear a Palestinian perspective on the conflict, as most of the time we only hear about the conflict from Israelis. It broadened my understanding of the political and social dilemmas.