As I interviewed Rajeh Albugami, a student from Saudi Arabia, I learned more about why he values his 2015 GYV friendships. He not only cherishes the the new faces and cultures he encountered, but the lessons he learned from those individuals their substantial impact on his life. He shares his first thoughts with us along with pearls of wisdom he received through his experience.
GYV Staff: How was your first experience at the cabins? What did you think when you saw them?
Rajeh: I was like, “Whaaaat?” Then I remembered that in an American movie I saw, they slept in cabins too. I realized that I was standing in a real cabin like in the movies!
GYV Staff: A little shocking was it?
GYV Staff: Did your father give you and your younger brother any important advice before he said goodbye?
Rajeh: Yes. He said teamwork is very important, that I should take care of my brother; always be polite—no matter what; and be patient.
GYV Staff: Why do you think he encouraged you to be patient?
Rajeh: Because patience is the key to happiness. We shouldn’t grow angry over our problems but instead try to be patient and solve it slowly. Eventually we will figure things out.
GYV Staff: How did these words about patience help you at GYV?
Rajeh: I think in the workshops I learned how to be patient, offer people more of my time and learn more about others while listening.
GYV Staff: Did you learn anything valuable from your time in the workshops?
Rajeh: In peace building I learned to communicate better and respect others’ opinions. I also learned about my growth and things that challenged me. In art workshop, I learned how to make art without any pens and only with nature. And I learned I can control my mood.
GYV Staff: Wow, control your mood? How did you do that?
Rajeh: Well, when you’re mad or having a hard time, you can think of things that make you happy—people that make you smile.
GYV Staff: You were part of the Laughing Love Leaders (LLL) team weren’t you? How were you able to positively inspire your friends?
Rajeh: First of all, smiling. You have to smile no matter what bothers you. I think I inspired my friends with the words I used and, of course, helping people laugh a lot when we had meals together.
GYV Staff: Did you make a lot of friends in your cabin?
Rajeh: Yeah, I didn’t just make friends though. I got to know them. We have a saying here [in Saudi Arabia], “If you want to know a man travel with him or deal money with him.” It comes from an old story about a bunch of men who went to visit Omar, a friend of the Prophet’s. They said, “We know him.” So they were asked, “Did you travel or deal money with him?” When they said they didn’t do any of those things, they learned they didn’t really know the man.
GYV Staff: How do you feel you “traveled” with your cabin mates and what did you learn?
Rajeh: I learned that people can have very different habits.
GYV Staff: Did any of them make a special impact on you?
Rajeh: Yeah, I think Waled because he was the one who woke us up early in the morning. Akram too because we used to pray together.
GYV Staff: Were you able to learn anything special from your cabin counselor?
Rajeh: Michael was the best. I learned kindness from him.
GYV Staff: That is so awesome. Rajeh I really appreciate you joining us for a blog interview. I am sure your friends will be reading this. Do you have any final words about GYV that you would like to share?
Rajeh: Yes. GYV is a great program! What made it even more meaningful were the people there. When I first signed up for GYV I wasn’t sure what to expect or how I would feel. When I arrived and went through those two weeks it changed my life. The people were both kind and open to friendships and that made my experience really enjoyable. The workshops, electives and action teams were awesome because of what I could learn from the people in them. Thank you for the best summer!
Photo collages courtesy of Rajeh Albugami