I remember waking up early in the morning so excited for the opening of the 2007 Summer Camp. I had a lot of mixed feelings; excitement, fear of failure and a lot of nervousness. People expected a lot from me but I didn’t know if I could meet their expectations.
The opening day took place at the Zafer Al-Masri Foundation in the eastern part of Nablus, which is across the street from my house. Nervously I went, but the minute I saw the faces of the Zwajel God touched my heart with comfort. A voice whispered to me from inside telling me that everything was going to be more than ok. We signed the constitution of the Zajel Youth Exchange Program, and around noon, the international volunteers started to show up. They were so friendly and nice. I didn’t know that that day would be the beginning of a new me. The tough love started in Askar refugee camp. You can’t explain how touching the children’s’ smiles were. It felt like the whole world stopped when one of them smiled.
We did a lot of amazing and productive workshops there for almost 5 hours a day, 5 days a week. I myself learned a lot about music, art, drama, sports and most importantly about disability and physiotherapy. I worked in the physiotherapy group as a translator and a part time assistant with Liam and Kizley and the sweetheart Iris. We used to go every morning to a different refugee camp to help people with disabilities. I tried so hard to document every tiny thing we did because it was a miracle, but I couldn’t… I needed factories of pages. Those poor kids could do nothing but smile at us. I would cry my eyes out at the end of the day. I was so impressed to see how brave those kids were. I am also very grateful to god that he created me in such good health and shape. But what really changed me was looking back at the scary image I had about the people in the refugee camps. I remember myself shaking when I first went there because of the violent history we have had with them. Nablus and the refugee camps around it have been separated since as long as I can remember, but I’ve never asked myself why. We’re the same people in the same land, same aim and same blood? But right on the spot that image changed for me and I hope it will change for all the nabulsi people. Those who they call refugees are the soul of Nablus. They are the heroes. They treated us really nice and were very welcoming. I’m so proud to be part of Zajel, so proud of being a Palestinian, and so proud to be part of this incredible team. Thank you my beloved university for giving me this unique opportunity to work in what I believe in. thank you Ala’ for being such a great leader and coordinator. Thank you my amazing friends and zwajel, you are the future of our great country. And much thanks to the international volunteers who taught me great things about life, humanity, friendship and love. Things I wouldn’t have learned for years here. thank you Nablus for being such a good mother.
During the preparation for this summer camp, I felt that I was going to experience something new and unique; I couldn’t wait for it to start. We were told that we would have to work really hard and in many ways I was intimidated, but at the same time I was so excited.
Attending the camp made me very proud and gave me a tremendous amount of happiness. It was great meeting new people from all over the world and to learn about their lives, cultures, traditions, and then to let them learn about us by getting rid of some of the myths they used to hear about Palestine and the Palestinian people. It was one of the greatest things I’ve ever done.
I never wanted to take a break. I wanted to spend as much time as possible with the volunteers. It was great to learn more about my lovely city Nablus, and to make International friends as well as local ones. I’m so proud to be a member in Zajel. I would really like to experience this again and I believe that I will never say “Never again”.
Every thing must come to an end; I started to believe in this after my participation in the international camp. The period of the international camp was three weeks, which was a very longtime. Since the first day of the camp I had felt that time was passing very slowly.
Now I have so many stories about the great times I had with both the international and local volunteers. I will always remember our daily visits to the Askar refugee camp in Nablus city.
The children of asker were so happy when we visited them and always welcomed us with their beautiful smiles. When we got tired we would usually find the energy to continue until the job was done. In addition to the ability to endure and work as a team, I had learned a lot about my country. I got to visit a lot of places I had never seen before. I also became more aware about the horrific situations that the Palestinians in different places such as the old city of Nablus have to face on a daily basis. One of the most interesting things I had learned was that despite the differences between us, in the end all of us are human beings. I felt, when we were about to say good-bye to the international volunteers, as if they were my family members and I felt a strong desire to see them again. But everything must come to an end and this end must be the beginning of the next international camp which I am eagerly waiting for from this moment.
It was a big dream for me. I thought for a while it cannot be real, but by the first day of the international camp 2007 all my fears came to an end. I was afraid that I would not do my best.
Thanks to the help of the volunteers I was able to defeat my fears and challenges. Before the international camp I wondered how I would look there. I imagined myself as if I was a rabbit in a forest full of lions where I wouldn’t be welcomed. By the first day of the international camp however, I noticed that I entered the right place and all the people there were very kind.
I was in need of such an experience to feel that I am serving my nation and my university whose logo is “we challenge the present to shape the future”. I will never forget the happy memories as well as the sad memories that occurred during the international camp. I will not forget any of my friends who participated in this camp especially the international volunteers who helped me in many ways. They were able to give me much needed insight into other cultures and lifestyles, as well as help with my English skills. I know that all I have learned is nothing beside what I really ignore and I know that the international camp 2007 was a step in the right way for me and I hope to make new and more productive steps in the future.
It was the first time I participated in the international camp. This experience affected me personally in different ways. One of them is that after the international camp finished, it became difficult to return to my normal life. I used to get up early every day during the international camp and after it finished I still continue to get up early every day without using an alarm. Although this causes me suffering I thank God because this suffering usually reminds me of the international camp.
After the international camp finished, my life became very boring again. There is too much free time with nothing to do to keep you busy. My time was filled with joy during the international camp, so I am waiting for the next international camp to come and I hope that such camps will continue to be held every year whatever the situations will be.
It was the first camp I participated in, At first I hesitated a little about going through this experience and decided not to participate, but Ala’, the Coordinator of Zajel, took me with him to visit the camp on its third day and since that day until the departure no one could take me away from the camp. We, the international and local volunteers, spent three weeks together and we became like one big family.
I never could have imagined we could become so close in such a short amount time. We went through the good days as well as the bad days together, hand in hand, which helped forge our close friendships. Moreover, this international camp was the most interesting and enriching experience I have ever had, and for sure I’m going to do it again, but in the next time I am planning to be more involved.
My experience with the international camp, which was organized by youth exchange program, was very nice and I was so happy to take part in its activities. We worked as a team and got to make daily visits to meet the children of Askr camp. It was a chance to learn more about the harmful conditions that the Palestinian refugees live in.
The international camp included different cultural and entertainment activities, which gave both the local and international volunteers the chance to forge new friendships. Although the Palestinian nation lives in such harmful conditions, the great will that the volunteers had was in the same level of the challenges. By the successful end of the international camp all of us felt a mixture of joy and sadness to leave the camp. We spent great times together and I hope that I can participate in the coming camp next time to get more benefits through participation in both the international camp and Zajel Program.