“Only with the heart can one see right.” – Antoine de Saint Exupéry, The Little Prince.
This afternoon, I found myself at the children’s museum in Holon. We had tickets to a special exhibition called ‘Dialogue in the Dark.’ I had no idea what to expect and so was a little baffled when a guide handed me a seeing-eye cane.
I entered a dark hallway, the cane in my right hand while my left hand guided me along the wall. After a brief explanation, we made our way into the first of a series of rooms. It was pitch black. The sounds of the rainforest chirped around us and we were instructed to find a bench and sit down. By no means adjusted to this new situation, we groped around in the dark. I walked into tree branches and a few walls before I finally discovered a bench.
Having completed the first task, we slowly made our way into the next room; a cottage on the beach. We felt against the walls as people shouted out the things they were discovering; a pile of books, a spoon, a bed, a pitcher for water. We were placed in a situation where sight was no longer an option. We had to make sense of our surroundings using our remaining senses. It took me a good 5 minutes to understand that this leathery pile of papers was books.
There was a whole series of rooms, each one offering a different experience and some object that I still can’t define. We were led by a 21 year old university student from the Hebrew University. She also happens to be visually impaired. She led us through this sensory experience as we had essentially swapped roles. Suddenly, she was in her comfort zone while the rest of us were in the dark. She showed us the world through her eyes.
Following the tour, we entered a cafe in complete darkness. We ordered drinks and snacks and sat around a table as our guide led a discussion. It was our chance to ask her questions about life outside of the museum. She explained what her everyday life was like, how her parents worried and her plans of studying abroad in Spain and traveling to Mexico and Brazil. She served in the Israeli army and spoke 3 languages. She was an inspiration that easily eliminated any misconceptions we may have had about the blind and visually impaired.
If you find yourself in the center of Israel, I highly recommend visiting this moving exhibit. Take an afternoon and experience life in a different light.
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