Search This Blog

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Volunteer Experience - Jemmina

Hi my name is Jemmina , I’m from New Zealand (a tiny island on the other side of the world), speak with a funny accent,  and I have been volunteering for Musalaha Youth Department from May to November, 2012.

In July I was able to go to all three of our summer camps (3 weeks of hanging out with kids? YES PLEASE!) in Hebron, Taybeh and Baptist Village. These 3 camps were definitely my favorite part of my time here, I got to play with kids, talk to leaders and children, and see Musalaha in action. I loved watching the kids play, and being able to join in. They reminded me of my siblings, they played tricks on me, danced with me tried to tickle me and chased me until I was out of breath. 

At the Baptist Village camp as well as forming close relationships with the girls in my cabin; I was able to make friends with some of the youth who had come along to be counselors. The friends I made at camp made the experience much better, as we had (very) competitive card games, told jokes and people tried to copy the way I talk. One of the funniest memories I have from these friendships is the nickname I was given, on the first day of camp I had 2 councilors calling me Benjamin. By the end of camp every councilor and most of the campers called me Benjamin!

I have attended local youth leader training and meet young people whose efforts to make real, significant change in their communities have left me awestruck and hopeful. 

Learning about how they get young people involved with community projects that show them that even as youth they have an important role to play in their communities and equipping youth leaders to reach out to teenagers impacted by the conflict.

Besides the camps, my other highlight was when I got to meet the 14 youth who were going to Holland. Although this was no big, exciting event, I left excited about what would happen on the Holland trip, and I wasn’t even going!

When we had a reunion last week, I couldn’t wait to see everyone again and find out how they enjoyed the trip.  I was inspired as I heard stories of how people had changed, what they learnt, and what they want to do now.  I loved hearing about how a young Jewish guy felt each night after listening and learning from his Palestinian friend, and watching the young Palestinian guy, who at first felt intimidated and fearful in the presence of Jews, laugh and make jokes with his new friends.

Sometimes, when I work in the office doing (very important) things like making name tags or writing budgets, it can be easy to forget why I’m here and what I’m really working for.  At the reunion, while I was listening to conversations go on around me I was reminded why I flew for 24 hours away from my family and everything that is familiar to me, because I love Musalaha. Because I am passionate about seeing young people, about seeing YOU change your worlds.

Over the last six months I feel very lucky to be able to participate as an outsider in several Musalaha events. At these events I have learnt so much and if I had to say one thing that I have learnt about reconciliation, is that it is possible. As I have had the chance to live here I can see how as a young person in this environment it would be easy to become cynical, discouraged and hopeless for the future, but I have been encouraged and incredibly inspired by everyone I have met through Musalaha and the hope you posses. To everyone that I have had the chance to meet here, thank you for all you’ve taught me.
 The friends that I have made here have become very special to me and I have loved getting to know you.

Living here has been such an adventure as I have experienced living in a completely different culture surrounded by people who speak other languages. One morning an old man said good morning to me and I complimented him on his roses. I was given roses every day that week and once I was even given a fig! This would never happen where I’m from. I am now preparing to go home, back to my family and back to my life. 

Thank you so much for welcoming me and letting me into this little part of your lives.

if you would like to read more about Jema's experiences, please visit her blog

No comments:

Post a Comment