Until the academic year of 2019-2020, the Ono Academic College’s Jerusalem programs in the Malcha Technological Park were divided between three sub-campuses: Haredi, East Jerusalem and General. The East Jerusalem campus was comprised of Muslim and Christian students from East Jerusalem, who had graduated from the East Jerusalem high school system, where the language of instruction is exclusively Arabic. For this reason, these students graduate without acquiring a basic knowledge of Hebrew. In order to facilitate academic studies for this population, Ono established a separate sub-campus, in which classes were held in Arabic.
In 2018, the Council of Higher Education (MaLaG) required Ono to merge the East Jerusalem sub-campus with the General sub-campus where most of the students were Jews. There were two main obstacles for this merger. Obviously, one difficulty which needed to be surmounted is the language barrier. To solve this, Ono required Arabic-speaking East Jerusalem students to take a year of preparatory Hebrew classes. At the end of the year, the students are meant to have reached a basic level of Hebrew competence.
The campus merger also created social and cultural challenges. The two campuses are comprised of very different populations which have had close to no contact previously. One must also take into account the inevitable impact the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has on the meeting of these two populations. In order to deal with these challenges, Ono decided to hold a workshop through which the students gain direct knowledge of each others’ communities and have the opportunity to make preliminary contacts.
The workshop is given on three separate days in the first semester of the year. Each day is built around a different artistic medium: music, cinema and art. Students will be able to work side by side via the artistic medium, which will enable contact and non-verbal communication around something they have in common. Some of the art workshops are led by artists affiliated with Ono. For instance, the music workshop is led by the staff of Ono’s Faculty of Music staff. The art workshop is led by the Art Therapy staff of the Academic College of Society and the Arts (which previously functioned as Lesley College and) which has now merged with Ono. Together with these instructors, the workshop is led by faculty from Ono’s program in Group Process Leadership.