TEDxYouth@BialikRogozinSchool | afterthoughts

By Limor Shiponi

There are events that send you home smiling a good smile for hours and days. TEDxYouth@BialikRogozinSchool was such an event, smiling because it felt good being part of man-kind, kind in particular. 

TEDxYouthDay

TEDxYouthDay took place on November 20th in 59 different locations around the globe. Since TEDx events are independently organized leaving almost any detail open to free choice, one could anticipate diversity, creativity and innovation. Blend that with the word ‘Youth’ and let the party begin… I watched the live video stream for the entire day, listening closely, being moved and surprised, laughing, being happy and puzzled, astonished, appreciative, thanking God or whoever is in charge once in a while, happy again, wanting to thank anyone who took part in any way. THANK YOU!

What captured me deeply was the diversity of the events: the different themes, choices, the way local works with global and the ongoing strive to be happy in your existence and makings, whatever path you choose.

TEDxYouth@BialikRogozinSchool in TLV

Speaking about diversity… the event in Tel-Aviv waited for the 30th missing out on the global live-stream but in no way missing the party. Missing a party is not practiced in Tel-Aviv. I recommend you watch this video if it’s the first time you’ve heard about Bialik-Rogozin since listening to the story told by the school’s principal Karen Tal will paint the rest of my words in deeper colors, spouting out a complexity that evolves daily into the brightness that has been entitled “an educational miracle”. It will also give you the chance to see “in person” the driving element behind the marvel.


The power of love

It’s all about love coming directly from the heart and as if to assure what might be only a wishful assumption, the final accord coming from Professor Arie Schachner (Save a child’s heart) spelled out “everybody wants a heart so they can love and feel the love of others”.

Heart was there everywhere you looked coming from the children, the school staff (family would be more adequate), the numerous volunteers, parents who accidentally popped into the surprisingly changed environment and the distinguished guests who all willingly answered the call initiated by Yossi Vardi. Naming them might make this blog drop off the web for overweight so with full respect I’m leaving that part out. Anyway, it was evident that after very few moments everybody reckoned the real party was about the kids, the school and ideas worth spreading.

Hosting for the better

The event took place in the school’s inner courtyard while most of the students present – an exceptional challenge for the producing company Oscar4B that met the call with overwhelming grace and creativity.

The event was divided into ‘main event’ and ‘happening’ with the opportunity to move freely between both. If you chose to go outside or into one of the activity rooms you could experience anything from crafts to animation through painting, electronics, photography, juggling, break-dance, acrobatics, flamenco, hip-hop, drumming or KinCat; you could stick your teeth into a warm doughnut specially decorated and stuffed by volunteering chefs or a delicious lunch provided again by volunteers.

In addition you could watch a motorized working-tools race, a robots exhibition, a magician, street artists, playing robots, a trampoline extravaganza, surprising things people do with magnets, cinema special effects, a waterslide simulator and stunt people doing the most hilarious stunts witnessed also by pedestrians from the street, pulling them away from their difficult daily life for a short while, their faces slowly overtaken with a child-like expression of wonder.

The Power of Children: Explore! Imagine! Achieve! Change!

The program provided for a huge lineup, assembled mainly of children and youngsters involved in various endeavors that demonstrate the chosen theme. The adults where there to share ideas worth spreading, each and every one of them entitled to a TED talk of his own and listening to them can make your heart burst with inspiration. Yet in a very modest way, most of them moderated for the kids as young as some of them are.

The program was divided into four main sittings interlaced with live music, various performances and TED videos. We met children and youngsters involved in the arts, Olympic sports, technology, computers science, gaming, entrepreneurship & startups, volunteering, science in large and life in general. We heard them speak about the dreams and imagination behind their choices to volunteer, explore, push themselves to the limit and beyond, achieve with or against all odds, change themselves and the world around them for the better.

Those were no day-dreamers that “will overcome those idealistic fantasies when they meet real life and grow up”, forget it. They are walking their talk daily and like many other young people their age in various parts of the world, intend to change everything. The message is not unkind, on the contrary.

The event and school were hosting children from other schools and youth projects in Tel-Aviv, while Ron Huldai the city’s mayor, provided another notable idea worth spreading, “if you think education is costly, try ignorance”.

Closing (personal) note

The air over here is permeated lately with various initiatives connected to branding Israel. On one hand we are frustrated will the stories told about us on the outside and mostly for a good reason: the larger part of the world has no idea about what Israel is really like. On the other hand the proposed concepts range between innovation and technological brilliance to holistic spirituality, tourism and everything in between as if we don’t know what our story really is. So let me make a humble suggestion…

Israel’s story is about human complexity condensed to such a state it can either choose to fail or extract beautiful gems of hope. I can hear the cynics chuckling but that bitter voice cannot overtake what we’ve seen at Bialik Rogozin:

The wisdom of the elders, experienced and aware, knowing “this is no magic it’s hard work” as stated by the principle Karen Tal; knowing the path to hope is long and seldom bright; it requires diligence regardless of the immediate circumstances; it requires real love coming directly from the heart, being a family with all its whimsy but hey, that’s the way it is with families; looking with puzzlement at the younger generations, trying to guess what they will grow up to be and trying to equip them for the way; working very often with a blanket too small but then upon a call volunteering and unifying beyond imagination as if living in the light of some great vision yet so simple – the hope for happiness and peace, real joy in life.

This is a special place because we try with all our might to keep the possibility of choice. Bialik Rogozin is a purification of that substance demonstrating great hope and practicing the possibility of choice daily. Talking to the kids in person I’ve learned that what they see as being so special about the school were two main issues – diversity in the school yard where all faiths and languages live together and being treated seriously with intention, respect and great care.

It was my personal privilege to volunteer on #TEDxYouth@BialikRogozinSchool doing my best to try and grasp the event and send the story out via social media channels. To anyone who was involved, to the kids – THANK YOU from the depth of my heart.

Love, Limor.

P.S. Karen, what you don’t know is that the person writing this blog is a fine storyteller. If you ever need me for that reason just let me know. I think the kids and I already have a good opening-move between us.

P.S.S. The short documentary “Strangers No More” by Simon & Goodman Picture Company has been announced a contender for an Academy Award. Will it receive the golden statue? I have no idea but I do recognize a story worth spreading when I meet one.

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