Tuesday, June 25, 2013

June 24, 2013: Camp Day 1 - Orientation

Our first day today was a huge success! Our awesome Go Palestine staff anxiously awaited our wonderful campers on Monday morning. After welcoming our campers and handing out our Go Palestine t-shirts, the staff and campers introduced themselves and we all played some ice-breakers to get to know each other. Then, the staff explained the rules, regulations, expectations, and cultural expectations to the campers. We then walked through the busy city of Ramallah and enjoyed a delicious meal at Jasmine Cafe. On our walk back from Jasmine Cafe to the Friends Boys School, we had a special tour through the old city of Ramallah by our staff member Qossay.
As soon as everyone returned to the Friends Boys School campus, campers and staff engaged in a deep discussion about tolerance and the importance of respecting one another. The campers engaged in a productive discussion, sharing their personal experiences, opinions, and struggles. It was inspiring to see the campers getting comfortable with one another and opening up.  The staff emphasized that Go Palestine is a safe, judge-free zone in which everyone should be able to express themselves openly and voice their opinions. The staff emphasized that our discussions should not influence how campers view or treat one another, and that whatever happens in the safe zone STAYS in the safe zone.   
After our discussion, the group split up and played basketball and soccer. It was great to see the campers and staff engaged in physical activity and enjoying themselves! We then entered the 'Cinema Room' and watched the documentary Occupation 101. The film was very informative and emotional, addressing everything from settlements to Rachel Corrie to the Intifadas. Following the film, campers and staff engaged in a discussion in which the local campers reflected on their personal experiences living under occupation and their experience living and surviving through the Second Intifada. International campers discussed their experience, struggles, and perspectives as Palestinians living abroad in the 'Diaspora'.
After an AWESOME day, the campers were anxious, excited, tired, and ready to go home to their host families. After the campers left, the Go Palestine staff met and reflected on how successful their first day was and how impressed they all were with the campers. 
After a delicious meal at Jasmine Cafe

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