In honor of the beginning of CPI09 and having remembered that I actually wrote my first blogpost just about a year ago, I'm re-posting it here: Day 7: Getting Ready for Camp
Monday, July 21st, 2008.Today was our first real day in Yerucham – and boy was it a good one. Partially it was just so nice to finally be doing something, after what seemed like weeks and weeks of training and talking; we spent most of the day decorating the rooms in which we will be working with multinational decor, in the spirit of our Olympic-themed camp.But while that was definitely a great group bonding experience and a great outlet for our creativity and enthusiasm, what really got me excited was just being here. After all we've heard about the development, the dirty streets, the dry heat and the despondent people, it was great to be here on my own and to be able to experience it for myself.And let me tell you – there were some very gorgeous buildings and parks, beautiful sidewalks, manageable temperatures (including a soothing evening cool) and very friendly people (I've already had a number of people come up to me to ask me who I was and what I was doing here). The truth is, I think I've already fallen in love with this city and would like to invite anyone who doesn't believe me to come see it for themselves.As I walked down the streets of this beautiful city, I thought about the point of coming here, and about how we're supposed to 'make a difference'. When I actually saw the people and realized that they wouldn't come running to our feet for words of wisdom, I began to wonder if it was even realistic to set such grand goals. How are we, a bunch of young college students, supposed to make a difference in a city of thousands?As I was thinking about that, I saw some empty wrappers on the streets – not like in a slum, but like it is in any regular town or city. It was then that I realized that as much as we must dream big and set lofty goals of inspirations and impact, it all starts with the our own everyday, ordinary lives. So, after picking up those wrappers, I proceeded to clean the entire block, as well as the adjacent street, of all cigarette butts, popsicle sticks, broken glass, and any other such debris that dared defile my dreamy desert rose – Yerucham.When we got back to the magnificent apartment in which some of us guys are staying, I also began to clean out the front yard. After about an hour, the pile of trash had transformed into the ultimate hangout area, decked out with two remodeled couches, a dozen chairs and some hanging artwork. It was in this little area that all of us ushered in the cool evening with a delicious barbecue and a spontaneous bout of singing.
Sitting back on one of the couches, breathing in the fresh air of Israel, and listening to a bunch of beautiful voices singing songs of hope and prayer, my spirit was revived and I once again am looking forward to another day of making a difference in Yerucham.
Epilogue: It truly was a summer (or, more accurately, 2.5 weeks) of making a difference. More on those experiences another time... Also, in cleaning up that front porch, I found a old, dirty, broken Challah board which, with a little work, turned into a refined, beautiful (though still broken) Challah board. I brought it back to America with me and it has since graced the table of many a "Heart to Heart" Shabbat dinner, adding grandeur and regalia to our sanctified meals. Funny how these stories all connect...