On the road with a group of forty teenagers full of doubts, apprehensions, life struggles and hard relationships with others, you can feel the excitement in their eyes and the desire for new adventure. A student said, “sharing is caring”, a beautiful and thoughtful way to start this new journey.
For most of them it is the departure for their first camp ever, and with a very attentive and respectful attitude, the children are getting to know a little more about each other. At the arrival on the campsite, the team and facilitators introduced themselves, and with some dancing, good food and laughs it helps the children to feel more comfortable.This camp was organized around three stages: self, relationship and community. The mission was to help them open their heart to others, no matter the racial, religious and cultural differences, as well as to get a better understanding of their own person.
Bringing unity within diversity, respect within interactions, observation within sharing, listening within practicing, the team of facilitators wonderfully guided their group toward more love and harmony, with only positive vibes and change-building. Full of beautiful conclusions from our workshops, the teenagers realized how small of a world we are living in, and no matter your life difficulties some people have much harder life struggles.
They all understood to never give up no matter the difficulty of the obstacles. Reflections on how they should treat themselves, others and take care of their community were generated. Spread into smaller groups mixed among genders, cultures, races and religions, the students did not have another option than to keep their team united through games, presentations, and group discussions. We could slowly observe the groups becoming stronger and more unified. Some of the team names were: 7 Warrior, 6 Miracles, Steven Hawkins, Buaya Sado (Strong Crocodiles), We are the best, Papa R.
I was able to lead a group of six teenagers throughout most of the workshops in English, a language that they struggle with, but with a good team spirit, great attention, mutual help and some pretty good laughs, we all got to challenge each other and bonded despite our disparities. I realized how children make me happy; children are just full of love, happiness, care and attention. They are always absorbing every of your words; they respectfully take you as a role model. It is essential to show them how important and unique they are, and that they are the possible change. They could make a difference in our world; this is why we always have to help them grow their self-esteem, to genuinely care about them as well as to sympathize with what they are going through.
I believe they all learned that being independent doesn’t mean being alone, contrarily it means being able to work with a team using your own and unique personality. Many of them were very happy to teach me Malay; I wanted to show that even though I was the facilitator teaching, and leading them through their workshops, they were also able to teach me about their own knowledge and language.
This experience was very particular for me and I will always be grateful to the Global Peace Foundation, and to all these amazing children to made me understand the true importance of diversity and teamwork. Through pushing yourself to your limits, you are able to more easily find out who you are. Sometimes, leaving toward the unknown could be scary, but we can feel how inspiring these children are, trying to learn from every single second spent into the camp. It is essential to allow them to also teach us about what matters to them, and what brought them into experiencing this camp.
My favorite memory from these three days would be the moment when we decided to play some outdoor games. The rain decided to show up and actually made our experience very unique. You could feel an atmosphere full of joy and happiness, it was incredible. The energy of everyone was just about giving and receiving love.
No children wanted to stop playing despite the pouring rain and the lightings. We often get told what to do in life, what not to do but rarely why we have to do it: “Don’t play under the rain you’ll get sick!” We, as children, have been educated to watch every of our moves and actions, but at this specific moment the children crossed the barriers of what is “right” or “wrong”, just appreciative of the present moment. The team spirit, the desire to keep laughing and to do well conveyed positive vibes toward the creation of a more united group.
Awarded as the most united, the best leadership and the connect-munity teams, the teenagers enjoyed being recognized for their efforts, bonding and community work.
“Enjoy your life Nina, be happy.” Alia – 14 years old. This is I believe an amazing conclusion about how much these children taught me and made me feel during these three days. I will always remember the beautiful energy coming out of the group and the day-to-day bonding. We must take care, we must respect and we must advice because we are the ones who are still alive and able to change things.
Today I feel grateful, coming back after an intense and wonderful three days camp with teenagers who made me feel alive and so happy. I learned so much from them, and despite their difficulty to trust and open themselves easily, we all had to open our heart to one another and just let it be. They taught me that no matter the language barrier, the differences in religions and culture, we could still interact, teach, and listen to one another.
Words from the participants about the camp
“Guys get ready to swim! There is no need for things to always go your way, but never give up because there is always a new way. Here, I learned to help with sincerity regardless of race. This camp helped me to become a better person and to think for myself.” Dzulhairie Bin Jemaludin
“I cannot describe how happy I am. I got to forget about my past and to learn about my future. This camp taught me about discipline and how to live independently. I learned the meaning of hardship, respect, and being friendly with people that you did not know, at the end they treat you like family.” Samsul Muarif Bin Sadiman
“When we don’t know we must ask.” Nor Hamidah Bt Amran
“This camp has challenge me, helping me to become a person who always cooperate with others, focus and open-minded. My visit to the Aboriginals community has shown me that some people are living a harder life than I am, and how I should be grateful. It also showed me how to get to the top without destroying someone else’s self-esteem.” Elmawaiyu Binti Da’ey
“If you join this camp you can change yourself for the better.” Muhammad Aikal Bin Ahmat Sayuti
“ In this camp, I got to learn a lot of knowledge that you cannot find in books or anywhere.” Siti Aishah Bt Ismail
“The transformation and changes within me have taken place. Before I was a real quiet person, but now I am more talkative.” Josephen Bt Nasser
Words from the teacher about the camp
“The program was great and it was truly an eye opener for my students. I love that it was structured into three different categories: self, relationship and community. I am not sure how much they learned about themselves but I believe it was the stepping stone. I definitely saw perseverance and gratefulness among them. They persevered through sessions, even though they were tired. Gratefulness was during community project. I also noticed that they have learnt a lot of English vocabulary. In the school, a few of them showed interest in learning and I am so proud of them. My hope is that the project/change of heart can be sustained by giving them a chance for volunteering works during the weekend such as orphanages/old people’s homes. School visit will also play a role in giving awareness to the students.” Simon Ho Chon Wai, Teach for Malaysia, Form 2 Math Teacher.
Words from the facilitators about the camp
“On the last day, I saw students who were totally changed, grew their mindset and became more mature. I also learned a lot about patience and focus during this camp.” Karren Gunalan, GPV Facilitator
“Facilitating students who are all different in their own good way was a challenge. But together with the children we strive to take up the challenge. We all learned to give back to the community. I was so happy to see the students making a difference on the last day. It was a truly beautiful moment.” Sukhin Sandhu, GPV Facilitator
Written by Nina Soutoul
We thank ECM Libra Foundation for making this transformative experience possible.