Start South Israel Art Program
Written by: Polina Fradkin (’17)
“How was break?”
The impossible question.
How do I explain it? Is it possible to verbalize? Did I just fall out of Mediterranean heaven and land in a mid-western-American tundra, where the only things keeping me warm on my 1 AM walks home from the library are the steaming hot, two hundred freshly-printed pages on international immigration policy that I have to read for tomorrow? I’m fine, really. Just don’t touch me.
The purpose of Start South is much more than its mission statement. It was not voluntourism, it was not about exoticizing and therefore belittling the people of Sderot, the city where we lived and worked. It was about a group of incredibly talented young adults coming together to create something for a community they are immersed in. That “something” came in the form of a concluding music and art festival.
For ten days, I was the best version of myself. I fell in love with Sderot. I was poked and prodded and pushed out of my artistic comfort zone, which was quite vast to begin with. 160 creators were plucked from all corners of the earth and brought together for only ten days to make a difference through their art in the community of Sderot, to grow to feel at home in this community, and to connect on a deeper level to Israel’s enchanting Negev. These ten days were art defined, living and breathing. A scavenger hunt in Jerusalem led to a spontaneous jam session. A concert facilitated a dance-off between hip-hop masters. A bus ride was a henna parlor. A meal was a Portuguese lesson. From our 7:30 AM breakfasts to our 11 PM retiring, something magical was happening every minute. (Though we may not have realized it at 7:30 AM.)
Start South granted me the most productive ten days of my life, and some of the most illuminating. I learned that a band’s success depends on its drummer. I learned that I absolutely need to go to Georgia – the country. I learned the art of hammock naps. I learned that surrounding yourself with people better than you will make you better. I learned to get up and dance no matter what. Heck, I learned how to do Mongolian throat singing! But most valuable of all, I learned that everything is okay – that even after a total of five rehearsals, when suddenly you find yourself in a desert, standing center stage, looking down at three thousand faces, each turned up to you in anticipation, all you can do is open your mouth and sing. All else will fall into place.
How was break, you ask? I guess it was alright.