May 30, 2012
Located in Israel, near Tel Aviv, the old city of Lod has a history that spans over 7,000 years.
Despite its abundance of historical treasures and enormous archaeological potential, today Lod is one of the poorest cities in Israel. As part of this reality, the old city has become the backyard of the modern city and major sites in the old city have been severely neglected. The historic buildings that still stand serve drug addicts as hiding points while the open grounds are used for illegal garbage disposal.
Following a very successful operation of the Lod Community Archaeology Program in Lod for over 4 years, and thanks to an AIA grant that provided for the restoration of ancient walls at Lod that enabled the student excavations to continue, a new program – “Past Meets Future” – was recently developed. The educational vision of the Program is based on the desire to lead a process of change and development in Lod through the creation of local leadership groups committed and connected to their place of residency and instilled with a deeper understating of the environmental, cultural, and historic heritage of the town.
Launched in September 2011, “Past Meets Future” focuses on various aspects of the city’s heritage, while promoting environmental leadership. It cultivates young leaders who know the city well, appreciate all that it offers, and work towards creating a better place to live in. The program gathers profound knowledge of Lod’s history while at the same time helping children develop tools to conduct active multidisciplinary research. Based on a strong community orientation, the program also explores environmental issues and builds bridges between local communities.
In the current school year, we operate this advanced archaeology-environmental leadership program as a pilot in 4 local schools: 2 Jewish and 2 Arab. The program participants are students who graduated the Community Archaeology Program (an archaeology program with a more basic curriculum) and are keen to further study archeology and lead change in Lod. In each school, a selected team of 15-18 students from the 5th and 6th grades meets once a month for two hours each time. The four leadership groups also meet together for 5 special full days. During these days, the children enjoy lectures, tours, and social activities while increasing their knowledge in relevant fields and their connection with students from the opposite sector. Towards the end of the year, all groups will organize and lead a unique event open to the Lod community, during which the participants will offer the guests a guided tour of a number of historical sites in the Old City of Lod.
The pilot program is subjected to internal monitoring and evaluation. By the end of the first program year, we will produce the following:
Historic routes – One route that connects the historic sites together will be created by the children, along with explanatory brochures. The children in each leadership group will become experts on a specific local heritage site.
Guided walks – Participants of the “Past Meets Future” leadership groups will guide people through the new route.
Alongside the implementation of the pilot program, R & D and management teams regularly meet to write the curriculum, and oversee the program’s implementation. Training and supervision of the program instructors has been taking place and continues throughout the year. Dr. Yuval Gadot is responsible for the professional archaeology aspects, and provides consultancy and supervision. All of the program materials have been and will be translated into Arabic.