Youth Program

Counselor Training 2017 / Testimony of Hazar Haydar, participant from UL Universtity Ain w Zein

My experience at the YMCA Counselor Training 2017 - FARES Camp:

When my UL university -Ain w Zein instructor broke the news to us that we were officially going to the YMCA camp I felt one feeling. Dread.

It isn’t like I didn’t want to go to the faraway camp, but my religious position was the one thing standing in the way. I always liked trying something new and going to the YMCA camp was no exception, but of course as always, I had to face the choice between what I had to do and what I wanted to.

I have absolute faith in my religion and I love everything it stands for but of course there are always rules one must follow that might sometimes stand in the way of things one might want to do. But with the help of the instructors from university and from YMCA I was able to be a part of this tremendous experience.

A week in the YMCA camp was a week I would never forget. It was without a doubt one of the best experiences I have ever gone through in my life so far. I was not the girl everyone looked at from the outside and immediately deemed different because of her religious position, I was Hazar, a free spirited girl who (even though was going to a camp for her first time) was making new friends, speaking out loud and doing things without overthinking of their consequences.

One of the most prominent things that would stay with me after this camp is the friendships I have made. I lived with very special people and got to know them and their lives and their thoughts. To me, it felt like I had known them for years. It is truly funny how you go your entire life knowing about people from Christian, Muslim or other religions but you never really understand what it means until you get to know them and spend time with them and even put yourself in their shoes.

This is what the YMCA camp stands for. As our wonderful instructor Claude Geagea said: “You all represent what it is like to be unified in a country like Lebanon. This is the true Lebanon.”

And that stuck to me, because before the camp I had no idea how others held themselves and thought about certain subjects; but after this beautiful experience, I found out that a little piece of me is in everyone and vice versa. It is a beautiful thing to be able to share something big with others. For me, it was so precious because I felt like I belonged and at the same time I realized that truly every action one might do will automatically change the course of all events.

Can you imagine this? Knowing that one little thing you do sets a whole chain of actions and one tiny bit of your world and others’ change because of what you did?

My heart is full even now as I am writing this and reminiscing this summer. I can only hope this uplifting feeling I have right now is shared amongst my other friends who were in camp with me, and that others who have not been through this experience understand what it feels like to put yourself out there and just push yourself to try something new.

I can still remember the night in camp when we were all gathered by the fire, it didn’t feel like I was just physically with the people I now call friends, I felt spiritually connected to them through this experience we shared. At that moment I ludicrously recalled how nervous I had been seven days before and how the last day I had tears of fulfillment running down my face, because that was how lucky I felt to be standing with the people I got to know and love, people whom before I had no idea if they would accept me and accept my religious path, but whom now have become very special people in my life. And lastly, I give a million thanks to my instructors and the ones who taught us and followed us through this delightful experience as I cannot and will not forget how great it felt to be a part of it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       By Hazar Haydar.