Between Storung/Hafraah and LivingFuture! – Five Perspectives
Hila Gvirts, Lisa Klingelhöfer, Nimrod Levin, Julie Philpott, and Dominik Welke
One of the funding agencies of the Storung/Hafraah project, the Deutsch-Israelisches Zukunftsforum, invited five of the junior scientists involved in our project to take part in the LivingFuture! Project, commemorating the 50th anniversary of German-Israeli diplomatic relations. We – Hila Gvirts, Lisa Klingelhöfer, Nimrod Levin, Julie Philpott, and Dominik Welke – had the pleasure to meet each other again in Berlin, as well as about 150 representatives from more than 20 other projects funded by the Zukunftsforum. We have decided that we want to partially document our memories from these four days by having each one of us separately write a short description of his or her individual but nonetheless collective experience. We know that bits and pieces of our collective text might read somewhat fragmented, but we hope that it will encourage our community to leave a response and thereby further facilitate future discussions.
It was an innovative, interesting, and inspiring conference. It gave me the opportunity to be exposed not only to the Israeli-German relations but also to the relations between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs. What pleased me the most at the conference were the wonderful relationships between the Israelis and Germans. It seems like these projects allowed not only the exchange of ideas and collaboration but also the possibility of true friendships.
There were several workshops during the conference. One of them was dealing with collaboration. Collaborations always create opportunities and potential achievements, but obstacles also accompany them. In this workshop, we took a peek into the dynamics of collaborative experience. A user guide with instructions on how to build a simple model was given to us and the task was to build the model while collaborating in a non-verbal way. We then reflected on the process of collaboration and concluded that not surprisingly, the Germans wanted to plan and the Israelis wanted to do. We also conceptualized and learned a simple tool that can help analyze and apply effective collaborations. According to this tool, a good collaboration consists of: relationship, process and result.
One of the questions that was raised, and perhaps relevant to my own research, is: Do we need to have a result while collaborating? Sometimes we do not have a specific result in advance. For example, while two or more dancers improvise, the non-verbal communication itself is the outcome of the collaboration. During the workshop, we learned that in this case the result could be the collaboration itself. But still it had to be defined in advance.
I’m very thankful for having the chance to be part of the LivingFuture! congress. It was great to get to know the organization better and understand what they aim for and to get to know other projects. The event offered the possibility of enlightening moments together and at the same time, left space and time for discussions or exchange regarding cultural or political topics. I enjoyed the open and welcoming atmosphere and inspiring talks with participants of other projects. I was happy that the main part of the event involved interactive activities, which made it possible to develop a more personal approach towards each other. I’m looking forward to the meetings in Tel Aviv.
On the flight to Berlin, I remember thinking to myself how excited I am to have the opportunity for another “Freiburg” experience. I was partially wrong. As I like to exaggerate, Berlin was nothing like Freiburg.
In our limited spare time in Berlin (and in this respect Berlin was like Freiburg), the five of us had time to discuss how the different projects were progressing, and to think how each could be improved or, in certain cases, launched. The time in Berlin made it possible for me to hear about Matan’s interviews, the distribution of little cute diaries by Lisa and her project members, as well as to learn about the planning of other projects. One of the things that I realized is that in Freiburg, the dancers are scattered all over Europe and the junior scientists are located relatively in the same area, whereas in Israel, it is just the opposite. It was also evident that the participants in Freiburg also experienced some of the challenges involved in our ambitious interdisciplinary projects that I encountered myself in Israel.
Unlike Freiburg, many of the representatives of the other projects devoted significant time during their projects to reflect (reflecting was a key feature in Berlin) on the differences between Germans and Israelis, form new bridges to overcome the suspicions stemming from our mutual history, and to highlight the uniqueness of each nationality. In Freiburg, it occurred to me, being globalized academics or dancers, we did not really need to talk about these issues. In Freiburg we focused on our bodies, and in Berlin (basically because we were nonstop reflecting how we were feeling), I got the chance to know the representatives of our project a lot better.
The meaning of friendship is something that I have been struggling to understand for most of my life. If I had to name one thing I learned in Berlin, I would definitely say it relates to this concept; I experienced new moments of truth, as I like to call them, in which I was (quite) confident how friendships feel like, making pretty much everything else worthwhile.
What to me was most valuable at this event was the opportunity to get to know the participants of our own group better. We met a wealth of fascinating people and heard about exciting projects, but like most participants we ended up spending lots of time with our original group. And I really cherished this time, outside our usual, scheduled events (the PD class, the researchers’ class) as it was an opportunity for conversation to flow freely in very informal environments (over drinks in the evening, taking walks around Berlin, over many coffees…). Not having a group I am researching with, it was great to reconnect with everyone there and it reminded me of the bigger picture – it’s so easy to get caught up in one’s own project and the problems that arise within.
I got the impression Storung/Hafraah stood out at the event, as it has such a strong scientific/medical background and we had numerous people approach us, expressing their interest and fascination.
I feel honored to have been asked to present Strorung/Hafraah with Nimrod – afterwards we were told that not only did we convey the concept, but somehow we also managed non-verbally (like the good dancer-scientists we all are!) to express the intercultural friendship and understanding that pervades Storung/Hafraah.
Set up in, admittedly, a very nice and leisure atmosphere, I had a weekend full of small talks, semi-focused workshops, forced communication and avoidance, culminating in half a day of tedious security-antics for some five minutes of state-act brimborium (tinged side note: banned in a closed room, surrounded by gunmen on the roofs, at least they forbid ‘air conditioning’).
I can’t stop balancing costs and outcomes of this event; even though it’s not my personal cost. I’m polemic, of course. Please qualify my words! There’s just a blurry shadow on some very cheerful days with a bunch of nice, interesting people. In the end I’m tempted to banish all thoughts anyways, and get lost in my memories of the Berlin Philharmonic performing Mendelssohn-Bartholdi’s 4th symphony.
For a Possibility of a Conclusion
We would once again like to thank the Deutsch-Israelisches Zukunftsforum for making it possible for us to participate in the Storung/Hafraah project and for inviting us to yet another magical project.