"Encompass was my perfect world"
Thank you so much for your support for our work. Welcome to another update about how your donations are creating a lasting peace and understanding between young people from different cultures.
Last month we ran our latest international Journey of Understanding. The weather in the Lake District was wet, windy, and bitingly cold. The mountain tops were dusted with snow, which occasionally flurried down into the valleys. Otherwise, rain and hail battered Derwentwater centre which acted as the host venue for the programme.
This was a programme of highs, and lows. The Journey of Understanding is never easy, as participants challenge themselves and each other to leave their comfort zone; exploring their own identity, blowing their stereotypes and assumptions out of the water and sometimes throwing their whole world view into question, before building it back up into something new and beautiful.
When one of the participants received news of bereavement in their family, it was amazing to witness the support within the group. Over just one week, these 24 young people from wildly different backgrounds and cultures had built strong bonds of friendship, which only deepened in the face of adversity and tragedy.
I could go on and on about the highs, which were many, but will instead leave you with this beautiful story, written by one of the participants on the Journey of Understanding February 2014:
“I believe every one of us has had a different experience to that of one another, even though we have been through the same programme. How we perceive it and how we compare it to where we come from and when we go back, makes the difference.
With Encompass I felt home, the like I have not felt for a long time. Of course ‘home’ might differ from one person to another, but it made me feel this way because it connected me with the true me; with my true identity, my pure me, a me that I cannot show where I come from, because of all the traditions, stigmas, stereotypes and a societal shadow that follows you wherever you go. Encompass gave me the space to express myself and to trust without fear of being misunderstood.
Honestly, I had no prior expectations of the programme, as I did not have much time to think about it. However, from the moment I heard about the programme, I decided on the spot that this was something I wanted to partake in. I wanted the chance to see the world from outside the bubble I am living in; see how people think, how similar and different we really are.
I was worried about how it would be to meet the Israelis; something I never thought I would do. Worried not because I didn’t want to meet them, but because I never thought I’d have the chance to just sit with them and talk as human beings, listen to each other and try with all our energy to understand one another. Of course understanding is a point you reach after a process of other things, as a friend told me, such as recognition and acknowledgment, which because of the limited time we did not have the time to reach. At least I heard part of their story, and have seen them as humans.
I wonder how it will go on now that we are back to reality. I hope we will continue listening to each other in the process of trying to understand, I reach a point where I feel that I have been heard and acknowledged as a Palestinian, going through everything all Palestinians have been through under the Israeli occupation.
I thought it would be interesting knowing how others think and live, but I never knew I will bond this fast and this much with so many people. I just wish we had more time. We lived a glimpse of ‘idealism’, where everyone tried their best to be as best as they could be. It’s the life I am trying to achieve. It’s the change I am trying to live. In the words of Gandhi, ‘the change I want to see in the world’.
Now that I am back, I will use all the skills I’ve learnt, keeping in mind all the discussions we had and all the sessions from my Journey of Understanding. I hope to share my thoughts and feelings and put them into action. Hopefully all this positive energy will erase lots of the negative energy floating around the place I live.
Encompass was, and will always be, my perfect world. A world, I dream will one day be forever.
Thank you for this amazing chance; I believe it was meant to be.
Love from Palestine.”
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