Workshop at the JCC Dbayeh Center

Therapy through Drama

Many members of the Palestinian and Lebanese communities have negative images of one another. This, over the years, has lead to hatred, misunderstanding, fear and discrimination amongst the communities. These attitudes have been long standing and are being passed from parents to children. Negative images exist not only at an individual level but also at a community level. There are real and perceived fears between the communities, including the fear of being identified as Palestinian and being discriminated against as a result. Many Lebanese believe that they are unwelcome in Palestinian refugee camps and so avoid those areas. They do not understand the conditions of the camps. On the other hand many Palestinians feel anxious that they won’t fit into Lebanese society and so remain in their own communities.

A drama-therapy workshop, with the participation of twenty Lebanese and Palestinian youth, was held in partnership with Catharsis Organization at the JCC center in Dbayeh. The subject of this workshop was “Healing Historical Wounds between the Lebanese and Palestinian Communities”. Armand Volkas, an American psychotherapist, drama therapist and theater director visiting Lebanon, gave this 2-day workshop. Some ice breaking activities were conducted on the first day to introduce the participants to one another. Initially, the group did not feel comfortable but after the first few activities, the participants began to relax.

On the second day, feelings and opinions began to change. The tense atmosphere decreased and a friendly environment began to emerge as different activities were carried out. At the end of the workshop the participants were asked to state what new ideas had they gained. Some surprising answers were: I will try to explain to my community that Palestinians are human beings struggling to live with dignity; I had an image that no one likes me in this country and they discriminate against me because I am Palestinian; I have started to think that many are ready to understand me.

It was a constructive workshop which could lead the JCC to a new technique in its advocacy strategy.

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