Reporters on the Job

ON COMMON GROUND: The Monitor's Nicole Gaouette was struck by the body language of young and old when she reported on a program at Jerusalem's Bible Lands Museum that draws on the link Jews and Arabs have in their common patriarch, Abraham (page 1).

"The adults were cordial and they mixed a bit, but when they all sat at one big table, they didn't sit in any mixed fashion. Palestinians were on one end, and Israelis were on the other. They spoke and smiled, but they didn't integrate themselves."

That was not the case with the children who were there. True, they didn't share much in the way of language. But they quickly got around that minor obstacle.

"Both sides were completely fluent in the language of play," says Nicole. "They were tearing all over the place and shrieking with happiness. It was nice to see how much less inhibited they were than the adults."

It was also a pleasant change to report on something positive, says Nicole. "The only place you usually see Jews and Palestinians mixing is at the hospital, as they share the common experiences of birth and dealing with health issues."

Every adult Nicole spoke to told her that they thought it was a shame the museum program didn't last longer, as the kids were just starting to lose their inhibitions. "That was true, but I wondered if the adults were really talking about themselves," says Nicole.

SOME CAN MARCH: When Monitor contributor Lisa Chiu checked in on antiwar protests in Beijing (page 7), she got a window on two very different worlds.

Lisa's first stop, where foreigners were demonstrating, was a truly multicultural event. "One person I interviewed said it was surprising to see so many expatriates gathered under a common message. There were Arabs, Africans, Latin Americans, and Americans. The signs were in English, Chinese, Spanish, and Arabic. What was even more intriguing was that the foreigners were chanting in Chinese."

When Lisa shifted over to the site where a Chinese demonstration was to have taken place - it was canceled after officials sharply limited the number who could protest - she encountered a more sober scene. "I could only get into the park where the Chinese would-be demonstrators were by showing my US passport. One student was in tears as he expressed his views about the war. I asked him if he'd try again to demonstrate. 'There's nothing we can do; what can we do,' he responded. I didn't know if he was talking about the war, or about his ability to express his views in China."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

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