By: Christina Nitsou
Bourj el Barajneh

We have been in Bourj el Barajneh, a Palestinian refugee camp in Beruit, Lebanon for approximately two weeks now. The sights, the people, the atmosphere is indescribable because there is such a rich history and such hidden meanings to what meets the eye. I was and still am amazed at how the entire camp runs itself. The organization and the sense of community that everyone tries to create in order to live life the best the can given their circumstances is amazing. To begin with, it is incredible to see such a community mobilize and organize themselves to provide services for everyone in the camp. The power of what a person or a group of people can do is unbelievable. The camp is like a small city in which everyone works to improve their situation and help those around them, even with minimal resources. People only have so much to offer but what they do have they offer it open heartedly. People have been very welcoming and have expressed their gratitude for other presence in the camp each summer. People’s smiles are so contagious here, that it is a wonderful way to start your day. It amazing at how much a person can learn in such a short period of time. So far, I have learned that what becomes of life is about what opportunities we encounter. When opportunity is limited and your future appears dim what do you do? People here have shown me that friendship and community is vital for survival and more importantly happiness. And so, identity and community have become the focus of our teaching. We decided to make these two topics ongoing themes throughout the summer and allow our students to understand the strong dynamics that exist in their own community what their individual contribution can be. People continually ask me why I came to Lebanon, and why the refugee camps? I am here to learn and absorb as much as I can about a culture and group of people that I know very little about. We are all on our way to learning and sharing so much more and the summer has just begun.

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