I walked into a classroom that I had entered many times over the past month at Hebrew University, but this time I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. About two weeks earlier, I had approached a table where there was free chocolate, hungry and curious as to what “Jerusalem Media Syndrome” meant. I learned a little bit, got some chocolate and decided to fill out the application that day. And here I was, two weeks later, entering this room to learn more about social media.
Learning about social media seems like a strange concept, especially for those of us that have grown up in a world revolving around social media since at least the age of 12. It’s actually underratedly very important. There’s a specific way that attracts people to read what you post on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. There’s an art to blogging and sending emails. I didn’t know any of this; I used Twitter to tweet about how many stray cats I saw in the street of Jerusalem that day, Facebook solely for posting pictures, Instagram to post pictures of sunsets and blogging? There wasn’t a chance I was going to EVER touch a blog, let alone actually write my own. But here I was, laptop in hand, surrounded by 15 other people I had never seen before in my life, munching on a free piece of pizza.
Over the 9-week program, Jerusalem Media Syndrome did not just teach us how to post to Facebook, effectively Tweet, use Instagram for interactions and inspire me to start my own blog (yep, it exists, check it out www.medium.com/@rebeccacperl), but with all those skills, we got learn about Jerusalem in a new light and share what we learned in a way that people would actually read it.
I think we can all agree that Israel isn’t always portrayed so well in the media, which is why it is so important that these young adults write about Jerusalem and the lens they see it through. Looking past The Conflict, which is something that is incredibly hard to do, Jerusalem has a thriving nightlife in the shuk (of all places, but it’s incredible. Please go if you haven’t been), an entrepreneurial spirit that was thought to be reserved only for Tel Aviv, AMAZING places to eat and so many different cultural events. These are the things we need to highlight more when we talk about Israel and Jerusalem. We need our stories to be heard, we deserve to have a voice louder than The Conflict. Jerusalem Media Syndrome gave us all the tools we needed to do just that and to share the hidden stories of Jerusalem.
All of these reasons is what makes the Jerusalem Media Syndrome program through BOMAH and their partnership with the Rothberg International School at Hebrew University so great. Each and every young person needs this experience and where is a better place to have it than in Jerusalem? When is a better time than now? There isn’t. I got to make new friends, learn about new ideas and enjoy free pizza while effectively telling the world about the Jerusalem I love.