Personality of the Month: Matilde, a master ceramist among the youth of Sabastiya and Nursf Jebeil

Matilde Tibuzzi, ceramist and teacher of ceramics (here is her blog, in Italian) tells us about her experience at Nursf Jebeil in connection with the ceramics course organized by the Mosaic Centre of Jericho, in collaboration with Association pro Terra Sancta and thanks to financing provided by the Fondation Assistance Internationale di Lugano (FAI). Her participation occurred as part of a larger project to recover local traditions and develop the region, with a particular focus on youth. Five local youths, two girls and three boys, participated in her course which lasted two weeks, with assistance also provided by a Palestinian master ceramist from Ramallah.

Matilde, what impressed you most about your experience?

“The way in which these young people tackled every task really impressed me” says Matilde. “They are young people with such a desire to know and to learn. Serious people, kind and intelligent with a strong spirit of cooperation and with the ability to listen and to make their own suggestions. The most amusing and constructive aspect was their way of “Arabizing” each decoration or exercise that was presented to them: this gave extra meaning to every single day! Through their words, their hospitality and trust I was able to come to know a world that was new for me, but not so different from the Italy in which I grew up, in its customs, its scents and flavors.”

What was a typical day like for you during these two weeks?

I wake up at 7 am in the beautiful guest house in Sabastiya, then a typical breakfast of coffee or tea, dates, boiled egg, cheese, bread, jam and fruits. Immediately afterwards one of the youths from the ceramics workshop passes by to pick me up and my work day begins.

After arriving at the workshop, I explain to the youths the program for the day: sometimes we start by looking at what was made the day before, other times we move on directly to something new. A bag lunch between 1130 and noon, every once in a while in the home of one of the young girls whose mother wants to meet me and share in the experience. At 1 pm back to work and then around 4 pm everyone goes home to rest. I return to my room and rest a bit and then go for a ride in the countryside amidst the archaeological ruins, or have coffee and ice cream in the garden of the guest house. There is always a traditional dinner, and afterwards sometimes I go with the youngsters to drink a tea and smoke a traditional hookah in the village square.

Did you enjoy working with them?

Very much so! I would do it again in an instant! We’re often in touch, I told them to keep me up to date on the progress of the workshop!
What did you like about Sabastiya and Nursf Jebeil ? And what didn’t you like? What I liked about Sabastiya and Nursf Jebeil was the relaxing and peaceful atmosphere, the lovely countryside, the good food and the hospitality. A negative point is certainly the lack of cleanliness in the streets.

And what would you say to those who are supporting our projects from afar?

I would say to them to continue to support these projects, that the young people participating in these projects take very seriously the opportunity that is being given them and are taking the fullest advantage of it in order to be able to create a better future for themselves. Moreover, these projects are helping not only the young people who are directly participating but the entire community in which they live, giving hope and opening them, even small villages of 200 people such as Nursf Jebeil, to the world, to tourism and to possibilities for future progress.