Two months since I’ve been back to normality and it seems unreal. When talking about the Journey of Understanding to others they just don’t understand why I feel so close to people I’ve only just met. The truth is if I was in their place I would’ve said the same, and I did a year ago when I was told by my sisters, “Unless you go on this journey yourself, it’s hard to explain how in just 10 days a person can change their views on life.”
Two months ago, I was on my way to meet 21 people I had never heard of nor spoken to. I had missed the group meeting due to work so I was meeting everyone for the first time. I always used to laugh at my sisters when they talked about the Journey of Understanding, not understanding the bond they had made with people they just met for 10 days. I mean it sounds crazy! How can you be close to someone you’ve just met? When making friends you don’t just trust them with all your deepest darkest secrets or the thoughts that haunt you whilst you sleep in the first few days.
However this Journey was something else, something that I had never experienced before, something that made you believe in yourself and forced you to look at life from different point of view.
The first few hours, when there was no choice but to talk to each other, thinking back I smile at all the silly thoughts that want through my head (what if they don’t like me? What if they think I’m odd in my ways? What if?). The journey felt like a school trip, there was food being passed around from chocolate to Bamba (Israeli snack) and everyone was talking to everyone. By the time we reached Plas Gwynant it felt like we had known each other for several months.
From the coach to the workshops to the outdoor activities, we got to know each other more and more. I used to think that people from Israel and Palestine could not get along so I was worried when I found out that there was going to be participants from Israel and Palestine, but I spent 10 days with people from both sides living in perfect harmony.
I made friends from USA, Israel, Palestine, Indonesia and the UK. All these people hold a place in my heart that I can’t explain to people when they ask me. I shared some of my deepest thoughts and heard their darkest secrets. To think we all knew each other’s deepest secrets but didn’t know the basics like how many siblings they have! We would stay up till 5am just talking. I remember how when I felt lost I spoke to one of the participants about some of the things I’ve faced. I never thought I would talk about that to anyone one but we had faced the same issues and one topic led to another, before you know it we both were crying but these tears felt light. It felt nice to be able to talk to her and even though the topic wasn’t a light topic somehow she made it feel light, her just being there made it all okay.
I made some life changing decisions whilst on the journey; decisions that I would have to act upon once back to my normal life. I don’t think I could have done that if it wasn’t for the support from the guys on the journey and I’m very grateful to them. Even though the Journey of Understanding is over I feel like it has just began as I’m still learning from the people I met and I’m blessed to have gone on this journey with these beautiful souls.
Thank you Encompass for showing me a better way of looking at life. I have taken with me some very important life lessons and skills that will help me throughout my life.
Sana Butt, UK, Journey of Understanding November 2014