April 28, 2009

It all went by in a flash. Now when I reflect upon the past two weeks it seems like they were counted in seconds not days. I am sitting at home surrounded with all the things that make up a place where I feel like I truly belong, place where I always felt whole and complete, but there is a feeling of unease within me, a feeling that I am missing something. The more I think about it the more I realize I left a piece of myself in the Middle East, a piece of myself with all the people and all the places that came together to form People to People International's Peace Camp in Jordan, my newly found family from all over the world.

I started my Peace Camp experience dizzied with all the affection which the leaders showered upon us from the moment we arrived. "Welcome to the beginning of the rest of your life!" were the words of Barbara Capozzi at that first meeting we had in Le Meridien hotel in Amman, Jordan. I sat confused, surrounded with happy but unfamiliar faces wondering will I be able to reach out to them all, wondering how will our relationship evolve. As days passed my confused feelings started to settle and with each new morning I felt a stronger connection with the campers, the leaders as well as the amazing country we were exploring. The land of caramel colored mountains and smiling people embraced us with warmth and hospitality and slowly opened its wonders to us with each new sight we were visiting. I listened to the whispers of the warm arabian wind caressing my face during evening conversations with insightful friends from the United States and shared breathtaking moments at what seemed like the top of the world at Kerak castle with people from Uganda, Egypt, Mexico, Israel and many other places. I felt the stomping feet of desert camels beneath me as it raced to bring me to the center of Petra while laughing it off with my Peruvian twin and Kosovar frenemy, and had heart to heart conversations during our long bus rides interupted with concerts and jokes that would bring tears to my eyes from laugher. The last moments before I departed home were spent in Istanbul airport where we held hands, hugged and listened to Jonh Lenon's Imagine, singing without words, saying goodbye with our hearts. All these moments made me feel truly blessed to be a part of this amazing experience, to be one of the puzzles that come together to create this living, breathing, loving entity we call Peace camp.

Words seems so fragile when they need to depict such strong bonds, when I need to explain how in ten days I managed to find a soulmate, a twin, a little sister, a best friend, a singing buddy, a family member, dancing partners, future colleagues and much more. It seems impossible neither of these people existed in my life just a few weeks ago and how they hold such an irreplaceable place in it today. Nothing I can say can epitomize the feelings and memories, so I will stop talking. There are things that trancend borders, that trancend distances and go beyond words, things that go from one person's soul to another and can be seen and heard only with heartbeats. For me, Peace Camp is one of them.

With all my love,
Katarina Kohen, Serbia

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