Buses arrive, kids come out and the magic begins. They enter the UP world underneath a thatched roof of clapping hands, singing and dancing. Teams and rooms are assigned as youth hop on the bright field where music and festivities continue in a maelstrom of joy. Hands are shaken, ecstatic hugs are exchanged, discs fly — everywhere games are played, stories from the year are exchanged, and new friends are introduced to old ones.
But in the midst of this, loneliness can be found. Like a young Hebrew speaking girl attending camp for the first time and knowing no one from her community. Fear was easily seen as she kept her gaze down, her voice inaudible and her hands stretching her t-shirt continuously. Her desire to be part of the team was there, and yet, she felt without a friend.
After the first practice, a raucous dinner and more celebrating on the fields, this same shy girl says to our overwhelming surprise with total confidence and a huge smile, that her biggest fear was to come to camp knowing no one, and her biggest joy was to have found a new best friend in the sympathy of a sweet, supportive Arabic speaking girl.
The intensity of this friendship and the way it blossomed was so unbelievable that we asked a few questions to the two girls, hugging each other in between each of them.
First of all, can you explain how you talk together without speaking the same language?
لقد تواصلنا عبر حركات اليدين، تحديداً عندما لا افهم بعض كلماتها باللغة العبرية
(We can also communicate by hand signals when I don’t understand her words in Hebrew)
And so you understand a bit of Hebrew?
And Noa, you only speak Hebrew? (she understands a bit of english)
What happened at the beginning for you to become friends?
את ישבת לבד וגם היא הייתה בלי אף אחד ורצית להכיר אותה ֫ יותר כי היא מעריצי תמיד נראתה נחמדה
(I used to sit alone and I noticed that Shared also had nobody. I wanted to know her because she looked cute)
Hugs and Shared whispers a “I love you.”
لقد سألتني عن اسمي وعن عمري وبلدي واجبتها ، وبدأنا بالحديث من غير ان نشعر بالوقت وأصبحنا نشجع بعضنا البعض ، وحاولت قدر المستطاع مساعدتها على الضحك لانها خجولة ، ومع الوقت بدأت ترقص مع فرقتنا وقد فعلت الكثير من الاشياء المرحة
(Noa came to me and asked my name, age and where I came from. Then we started to motivate each other and bring each other up. Noa also helped me to become less shy and now I am dancing!)
What is special about your new friend?
نستمر بالضحك طوال الوقت ونمرح معاً ، لاننا جئنا لهذا المخيم لكي نمرح حتى بالأوقات العصيبة والمتعبه ، فنحن نبقي روحنا الرياضية عالية
(We always have a smile on our faces and laugh and our goal is just to be happy and always look at the bright side even when we are tired.)
שיש לי על מי
לסמוך שאני לא לבד
שיש לי פה חברה שתומכת ומאמינה בי
(It is good to know that I have a friend that helps and supports me and that I can rely on).
And now how do you feel after meeting each other?
They went on playing happily again, leaving us full of sweet and strong emotion, driven by their pure love and care for each other, regardless of all the barriers we thought might keep them apart.
That is why we are here at Ultimate Peace camp; to make new connections, sometimes leading to unlikely and unexpected friendship.
Peace. Salaam. Shalom.
Its 1:00 in the morning and thoughts of Ultimate Peace practice are keeping me awake. Namely, how does UP introduce and coach the principle of nonviolence with the burgeoning team in Bethlehem, West Bank (pictured below in their first practice of 2014).