Would you believe me if I told you my whole way of thinking was changed in less than 10 days?
I didn’t go out looking for Encompass and I had never heard of it until the day before the application deadline when my friend Nora told me about it. The group meeting for the Brits before the trip was intense and I remember thinking that this was going to be more than just a fun, free trip to Wales, but I didn’t expect the things I got from it to be so priceless – things I will never forget.
I am not a shy person and I am usually ready to talk to anyone but for some reason at the airport I was a bit scared of talking to the other Encompass participants. I was scared of what they would think of me. We all got on the coach and it was like musical chairs; everybody just swapping seats and getting to know each other already; I must have changed seats over 10 times. Everybody started having a big group conversation about what we think people think of us and our countries and what we actually are like. This broke out into a singing game which went on for about an hour. We all got a bit tired and we all relaxed for the last hour of the journey. We had finally reached the Plas Gwynant Centre.
The next day we were split into 3 groups and we went off into our activities, my group had to go canoeing. I thought this would be easy but little did I know we were going to do a bit of cliff diving! This was one of the most incredible things and a crazy way to start the week. I am scared of heights, I can’t swim and I am pretty much a professional scaredy cat. I climbed to the top of this cliff with a fellow participant Delphi from the USA. At the top of the cliff I felt like I had made the biggest mistake of my life. I wanted to get down. It was actually me that pushed Delphi to get up there, telling her ‘We have to go big or there’s no point in jumping’. When we got up there my palms were sweaty, knees weak and my arms were heavy. My heart was beating so fast and I was shaking. If I didn’t have the support that Delphi gave me that day I think I would still be up there. She stood by me and told me it was all ok. She reassured me that she would be with me through the whole thing. I put all my trust in somebody that I had known for less than 24 hours. I know if I didn’t make that decision I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
The workshops were the most amazing workshops I have ever done. They were life changing. They made me think. One of the first activities we did was called ‘Identity Shield’ which is where you have to break up what makes you, you. I thought this would be easy but it turned out to be a lot more challenging than I thought. I realised that I did not know myself as well as I thought I did.
The activities started to get more and more intense and the more intense they got the more open minded I became. After 3 days I felt like a new person. I opened up to another participant about obstacles I have had to overcome in my life. That night when I went to bed I couldn’t believe that I had told her the things I did. There’s maybe 2 other people in the world who know but I felt like I could tell her. We were not just participants anymore; we had formed an unbreakable bond between one another. We had become a family. People would save each other breakfast in the morning. We were helping each other up waterfalls. This is where I realised why this trip is called the Journey of Understanding. I started wishing that everyone I know could understand the things I was learning but I knew it wouldn’t be that easy. Everyone that I would tell about the Encompass trip thought I was crazy. They couldn’t believe that I had formed lifelong friendships in 10 days. They could not believe that Palestinians and Israelis could stay on a trip together. I personally think that we should have made a mini documentary so we could show the world our beautiful peaceful Encompass Island.
I will never forget what I gained from this programme and I will never forget the people I met. Thank you Encompass 🙂
Amira Rahmoune, UK
Journey of Understanding November 14