Tuesday, September 13, 2016 3:00 AM
"We need new and audacious ideas for mass transportation to implement in the future without damaging the environment.”
JNF-KKL Germany and KKL-JNF Israel developed a program called “Creating a Future for Transportation” in order to strengthen cooperation between Germany and Israel in environmental education. German and Israeli high school students participated in a completion to produce films on sustainable transportation, and the winners were honored at a ceremony in Tel Aviv on September 5, 2016.
“This completion has provided a real opportunity to learn from each other, to exchange ideas, and to show how simple it is to work together if you support one another. What a cool project!”
Sarah Singer, the President of JNF-KKL Germany, was speaking on Monday, September 5, at a ceremony honoring the three Israeli and three German teams who won the sustainable transportation film competition. The ceremony, which was moderated by KKL-JNF Chief of Protocol Andy Michelson, took place at the headquarters of the Council for a Beautiful Israel, a green building located on the banks of the Yarkon River, next to KKL-JNF’s Rosh Tzippor forest.
“I was honored to meet the Israeli winners in Berlin and was inspired by their enthusiasm and joy of life. I am also very excited to see the German students here in Israel,” Ms. Singer concluded.
TheCreating a Future for Transportation pilot is the first project of its kind, combining innovative and inter-disciplinary educational methods in challenging intercultural surroundings. The aim is to present programs that promote environmental studies as a global vocation and encourage connecting to KKL-JNF projects for the benefit of the environment, an issue that unifies people and brings them together. The program reached out to high school students in Israel and in Germany, who produced films on sustainable transportation based on a year-long program with twelve online study units in German and Hebrew. After completing the twelve study units, the students were invited to initiate an activist project in the field of sustainable transportation pertinent to their local environment, and to document it in a short video that participated in a nationwide competition.
Two hundred teams had applied for the program, each numbering three or four students and one instructor. In Israel, they came from Kibbutz Yotvata in the south to Beit Jann in the north, including public, parochial and special needs schools, formal and informal education, and the Jewish, Arab and Druze sectors.
The prize for the three teams that won first place in the sustainable transportation category in each country is a week-long seminar for Israelis in Germany and for Germans in Israel. The seminar for the Israeli students took place in Germany in July 2016, while the German students arrived in time for the September 5 ceremony. Yuval, Hila, Shahar, Liat and Libi, eleventh-graders at Ramon High School in Gedera, won first prize.
“We spent eight days in Germany learning about sustainability,” Yuval said. “We saw a lot of new environmental technologies, and the interchange between the Israeli and German students opens a window for future cooperation. Environmental studies are our main focus in high school, and maybe thanks to this amazing experience we’ll be able to find work in the field after our army duty.”
Dr. Shaul Horev, the KKL-JNF envoy to Germany, said that while in the past JNF-KKL Germany organized activities for businesspeople and young leadership, “this is the first time we’ve focused on high school students. The visit of the ten winning Israeli students in April to Germany was very successful, and we hope that this will also be the case for the ten German students who just began their visit to Israel. Our next major event will be a huge Israeli-German friendship conference in Cologne, and we are expecting over a thousand participants. The movies that the students have made will be screened there, and also at a German nature film festival. The theme of the conference is coexistence, and that is what the meeting between the German and Israeli students is all about.”
Sophia Bielfeld is one of the ten German students visiting Israel and learning about the country.
“I’ve travelled previously to other countries in Europe, but this is my first visit to the Middle East. We’re here for about a week, and so far I’ve found the Israeli people to be very nice. I hope to create some personal connections while I’m here,” Sophia said.
Gunther Adler, State Secretary of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety in Germany, congratulated everyone who helped make the project a reality.
“I was first in Israel when I was 28, and since then, I have been back to Israel 19 times. Transportation is about mobility - without mobility, we wouldn’t be here now. The project afforded participants an opportunity to think out of the box. We need new and audacious ideas for mass transportation to implement in the future without damaging the environment.”
KKL JNF Executive Director of Resources, Development and Public Relations Avi Dickstein noted that it was quite appropriate for a KKL-JNF event to take place in the building of the Council for a Beautiful Israel, because making Israel beautiful is also KKL-JNF’s mission.
“The KKL-JNF office in Germany is responsible for dozens of projects throughout the country, and I hope you have a chance to visit some of them. Rabbi Avraham Kook, the first Chief Rabbi of Israel, said that the world is based on ideas. KKL-JNF was founded 115 years ago thanks to one young man’s idea. You, too, have ideas, and in the future, it is entirely possible that one of your ideas will make a significant contribution to mankind and the environment.”
Monika Iwersen from the German Embassy said that the experiences that the young people had would always remain with them.
“Governments alone are not enough to meet the challenges of sustainable transportation. We also need NGOs like KKL-JNF and students like yourselves, who are capable of advancing new and innovative technology. Governments need people’s ideas.”
JNF-KKL Germany President Sarah Singer read greetings sent by Sylvia Lohrmann, Education Minister of the State of Nordrheim-Westfalen:
“This is an opportunity to get to know each other and to learn from each other. I want to thank KKL-JNF for organizing this competition. The movies you produced are creative, intelligent and meaningful. They give us hope for a better future.”