Being the Change I Want to See in the World | Lana, Palestine

Growing up, I was like any teen – I hated going to school and studying for classes. But, something happened that changed my perspective on learning.

One day I was sitting with my two sisters and my brother when suddenly I started singing loudly “wi weah wi weah” followed by a censored word. I was about to proceed with the song when my brother stopped me and called my father. I was very surprised and confused as to why he became angry. He called my father and said, ” Lana said a bad word!” WHAT!?

I was shocked! I didn’t even know what I had said, I was only a child. So I started crying and begging ,”No I didn’t! Areej and Nibal sang it, that’s who I learned it from!” They looked at me furiously. I heard my two sisters singing the song, so naturally I repeated it without truly understanding what I was singing. As a result, I decided to do something different. I decided to walk a towards a different path in my way of life, one where I would become more independent.

My first big step towards independence was to participate in a “professional guidance and counseling” camp with around 100 other teens from all over Jerusalem and the West Bank. After spending just 6 days there, I felt like my brain had doubled in size. Our well-educated guides gave us a unique learning experience that changed our personalities for the better, as well as introduced me to some really cool new friends that I consider my second family! The last thing I wanted to do was leave after those 6 days and, luckily enough, we didn’t have to separate for long.

After seeing all the positive energy that we teens had to give, they decided to guide all our efforts and passion towards something useful! Specifically, about 20 of us who had participated in the camp were chosen for another project that aims to provide teens with the chance to give something back to their society. We brainstormed about a lot of initiatives and ended up accomplishing two of them.

The first one involved organizing and going on three tours of Jerusalem in order to inform people about the most important places the city has to offer as well as to build better and stronger communication channels between youth so that they can create positive actions for their societies. Our guide was amazing and the mission succeed when more than 500 people attended the three tours. Our second initiative focused on underprivileged youth with extraordinary talents in drawing and photography. By matching them with professional artists and photographers, we were able to offer them free classes so they could improve their skills.

It is really an amazing feeling when you give, rather than just waiting to receive. Plus, I believe that when you give in a selfless way, you’ll get double kudos from the universe for what you gave. Basically, don’t be selfish by waiting for others to give first. Take the initiative, help someone out,  because giving is getting in the long run.

If you guide yourself and your energy in the right direction, you can and will plant goodness in the world.  I am a big believer that no matter how old or young someone is, they have a lot to give – it’s just a question of whether they believe or not. As youth, we have a big opportunity here because people don’t always think that we can make a difference and do positive actions for our communities, but they are wrong… and it’s really cool to prove the opposite!

Believe in yourself, in your ability to give, in what can you do and believe in what you want to do. The special thing that I see in youth is that they don’t listen for bad comments, instead they just believe. And, as I said, when you believe, anything and everything will be possible.

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