When a group comes together to start thinking about an idea that they aim to develop and implement, they go through a process where members take on roles, tasks, and decisions begin to be taken. Projects and initiatives that tend to avoid a strict hierarchical structures nonetheless still work together in accordance to roles and tasks assigned as a result of discussions within the group.
Mohamad from Bayt Byout talks about how they started to adapt an idea they liked into practice in their own communities and how, as they began to develop into a project, the group had to take on tasks and roles on the individual level.
Mohamad: In 2011 I took training in unscripted roles of “Larb”, me and a group of people and I really liked the idea. I work with teens in the community. I found that this is a new instrument that we don’t have here. That we come and act as people that are different than who we actually are, and we are in a world that we could be in the galaxy, three thousand years ago, we may be in our current time. we can choose to be animals or carnivores, or vampires, any personality we would like to be or we can play a role in the opposite gender, I can play a female role. So I saw it to be a very nice way that we can introduce to the Palestinian community and maybe also to other Arab societies. So we started to play these games without any Arabic resources, and brought in English resources, translate them and try to play the game. Little by little, we started to be able to write these games. So we started to write games that were expressed who we are, ideas that may be crazy at times, or easy ideas, play it in a simple manner, it may take an hour or two, to games that last two days or three. From here people started to gather and come and try and like some things and would like to develop themselves through it, write games and little by little, we became a gathering for role-playing in Palestine.
After that we decided that being a group wasn’t very easy, sometimes you have to be transparent, you have to make decisions. How do you make these decision on certain points in this association, you have projects how do you run these projects, who is the leader of this project, who is in charge. There are questions from the group to the individuals that that are doing the projects, and this was not easy. So there has to be something that groups us and gathers us, and from here comes the idea of Bayt Bout, so there could be transparency, and questioning for the projects that we are working on, and to have strategic and clear goals that we try to work on to spread the idea from one side, and to bring in new understandings that can make people participate in new experiences, to teach them and to also to try to make changes in the society.
Interviewer: Why is creativity and role playing and artistic performance like this useful for thinking and talking about social change issues?
Mohamad: The roleplaying games and the artistic performances in general gives a person the opportunity to think in a different way, and to be exposed to different experiences as well. Every time we are exposed to experiences, it gives us an opportunity to discover our selves and to discover our values. The roleplaying games give us this opportunity to imagine and maybe especially for the Palestinian situation, we are trapped in regards to traveling, it is limited and besieged on the people, there is poverty and unemployment, also there are no people that come to us. So our exposure to different experiences and knowledge and others all together is not existent.
So the roleplaying games have given us an opportunity to be exposed to experiences in a hypothetical manner, in an imaginative way, and gave people an opportunity to excel and imagine how the future is going to be and to try to plan for this future in a beautiful way, in a meaningful way. On another side, the topic of games itself brings people together, and there are value to roleplaying games, which are democratic values that are there that we try to have in our society. So in the “Larb” games, there is not a main character, you play in order to lose, in order for others to play, there is acceptance for others, because the other is a character, so there is merging for the whole.
If there is a player that is not playing, we all try to let them play, even though it does not matter and it is not important if he is not good in acting. There is no right and wrong, we try to promote these matters to the people that they should not judge these things or opinions, so there is no right and wrong. There is initiative and there is leadership, so all of these things are always democratic and we try to push people’s ownership that they have ownership and feel this ownership and this is their world. So all this progresses that people learn these values throughout the game and after to copy it throughout time, part of their daily routine, and begin to see what are the wrong things in the society like the practices that oppose these values and how to fix them.
Lina Ismail from Dalia Association describes group dynamics are facilitated and directed in order to come to an agreement regarding decisions on the project or task at hand.
We can talk about the idea of making decisions as a group, or the cooperation as a group, and acceptance of others’ opinions. This is something we see in programs in our schools. I currently work with two schools, and we emphasize with every communication we have regardless of the topic, to have a group dynamic of sharing ideas and respecting opinions. We gather different age groups, young with older groups and we focus on the respect of one another’s opinion.
In our activities, even with a few games and events, within the interaction, to emphasize the importance of listening to others, on facilitating groups. This is something that is not simple, we are always learning it everyday and face challenges in it. We see individuals that want to be heard and more in control, others are willing to just work. We also take in consideration individual privacy, this is why some people are successful in smaller groups, to talk, express themselves and work. Others are more successful in larger groups, this is where we take from them what best suits them and accommodate. Subsequently, I cannot give u a complete solution to the matter, because every time it is different, according to the group. The women groups have bigger challenges, where everyone wants to talk, to express. The idea of listening is inexistent. We try to stop, go back and allow everyone to talk. The idea of facilitation from us, plays a major role in this issue.
One of the societies that we went to, in regard to the program “The Village Who Decides”, with the voting comes a variety of a committee village, for them to feel the responsibility towards themselves instead of feeling the responsibility towards the Dhalia association. While we were talking about this subject, the community of supervision and evaluation quickly got the idea that they must be the elderly or the powerful individuals in the community, and the men that have a better understanding of this subject. We talked and we discussed a way that everyone can be part of the supervision and evaluation committee, anyone that has something to offer, anyone that can supervise and follow-up the groups easily. It does not necessarily mean men and elders of the community. During this discussion, girls were motivated to get involved and individuals that think that they have to be a certain age, have a certain level of education or work to be part of the supervision and evaluation committee. Young girls raised their hands from grades eleven and twelve, and said that they wanted to be part of the supervision and evaluation committee. Truly, the young girl was the most productive person in the committee and in that age. She used to organize the meetings and call the meetings and take care of the group and gather the group. This all came from here and no one else from the committee. This is one of the stories.
Roleplaying provided a way for the group members to share their perspectives, views, and ways of doing things. It was a space for the group to discover each other’s strengths, weakness, and best means of collaboration. As well, Lina emphasized the importance of communication and listening to all members of the group in order to create community-based decisions and work.