Coming Back by G. Israel

I remember looking through the windows of the bus, wanting to get off of it already. I wanted  to see my friends I haven’t talked to in a year. I was so excited. The moment I got off the bus, I started hugging everyone, I was so happy to be back. I was very excited to meet everyone again. I remember when we said goodbye to each other the year before. I, together with rest of the Israelis and the Palestinians, were on the bus, while the Americans were running after us to say goodbye. We were all crying. We did not want to leave the environment we created for ourselves. Moreover, we were crying because we, Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans were interacting with each other; daily partaking in dialogues with each other, and had the opportunity to make friends with our “enemies”. One can imagine what it feels like to see those people again, the people that we were so close to during those three weeks together.

I got to see my host family from last year (that hosted me during the summer program in San Diego), and all my friends that I missed very much. Everything went on as if we didn’t leave for a year, as if it was a continuation from last summer, as if we were still just meeting up, like every day throughout the 3 weeks of the program. We acted as if we were best friends that hadn’t seen each other in a month. We all missed each other dearly. That made me realize that we still had a big part in each other’s lives. That even if we have barely talked since the program ended last year we still meant a lot to each other. I understood that we can affect others, and be important to them even if we are not in their day-to-day lives.

Later on, my host family from the year prior took me back to their home. Everything was just as I remembered.  I had a host mom named Kim, my dad, Scott, and my three sisters- Sophie, Becca and Aliza. Aliza was also being hosted by the family.  I was really tired that night, but instead of going to sleep I stayed awake to play a game with them instead. It was really fun, but I had to go to sleep. When I woke up, it was about 4 am, because of the jetlag. I started reading, and then my host father, Scott, came downstairs, and we had a conversation about politics. Later on, I joined the Pilates class with my host mom, Kim, and my host sister, Sophie. I remember feeling so good about myself, they just took me into their lives as if I was a normal part of it. They opened up their home to me, but more importantly than that, they opened up their hearts. It was so meaningful for me, to just be part of their family unit. Playing with them, eating with them, and living with them really shaped my experience. It was so generous of them to open up their lives, it is actually more than generous, it is indescribable. Through their hosting I got the desire to help, and bring people into my life, to learn from them, to be with them, to have fun with them, and more importantly to love them. I understood that by giving, you also gain a lot. I wish one day I will  have the chance to give to someone else as much as they gave me, and to teach someone else as much as much as I learned from them.

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