Why writing and correspondence?
Correspondence as part of the editorial work of Windows' Young Journalists is intended first of all to address the difficulty of bringing together youth from both sides of the Green Line (inside Israel-proper and from the Occupied Palestinian Territories), and to allow indirect encounters and communication when a face-to-face meeting is not possible or can take place only rarely. We soon realized that correspondence, even among those who live in the same city, allows youth to develop more sincere and constructive communication, which then continues in the direct encounter.
Writing allows participants to vent their feelings, especially emotions that weigh on them. The very act of writing about emotion helps to give it a name, understand it, and eventually understand its origin. The actual release of emotions makes it possible to make room for a positive and corrective experience. Those who have expressed their feelings are more likely to listen later to the feelings of others.
Writing a letter to the "other" allows the writer to think about the reader - who is she, what is important for me to tell her, what does she already know about me? Will she understand what I write or should I explain things, and most importantly what is the purpose of writing? Do I want to 'ventilate' my feelings, ignoring the result, or do I want to share in a way that will allow the reader to understand me? The writing process makes it possible to clarify these and other questions in advance, to make sure that the information is correct and to invest in formulating the letter.
Correspondence provides the participants with a very different source of information than they have known so far. Dealing with this information can be very difficult, but it is easier when the information comes in a letter rather than in a direct encounter with the speaker. Feelings toward the "other" are stronger in the “other’s” presence than in his/her absence. These feelings may activate defense mechanisms that do not allow for full listening and sometimes prevent listening altogether.
In the direct encounter, there is a tendency to focus more on what one wishes to say than on listening to what is being said. Real feelings of shame or guilt and even the fear of being perceived as wrong or guilty may lead to the search for excuses and justifications or attacking and blaming the other side. Another reaction may be to avoid expressing emotions so as not to spoil the atmosphere or the relationship.
When the other is not present in the room, and her words are being read, the need for direct defense disappears. Instead, a mental space is created to think about the content, to concentrate on the emotions that arise toward what was written, to receive legitimacy for those feelings and release them. As a result, emotional space becomes available for understanding what was written: What did the writer try to express? What does it mean? Where does it come from? What is the background/reality in which the writer lives?
Attempting to enter the shoes of the other, even if not present in the room, allows us to see her as an individual and as a person and develop emotional identification with her. The exchange of letters enables the participants to analyze the information, to think quietly about other answers or questions, to seek information from various sources before answering the questions and to carefully formulate the answers, aware of the personal purpose of each writer in the particular letter, and in general.
Writing continues during the joint seminar. Each participant has a journalist' notebook, which she uses during the activity year. During discussions, when a strong urge to express oneself arises and time does not allow this, participants can write things on a designated sheet on a wall or in the notebook. If there is no opportunity to discuss these issues during the seminar, participants will be able to write about it in the next issue of the magazine, in the youth blog or send a letter to other groups.
The ability to write things down on a regular basis reduces the sense of frustration participants feel when they are unable to express their feelings and thoughts immediately. It also hones the message that discussing various issues does not end with one meeting, but continues as long as the participants have a need to deal with the topic.
Learn more about upcoming methods