Volunteering in Lebanon: Alex’s story
Heya everyone! I am Alex from Romania, I have worked for five years in the cruise industry, mostly organising tours. For the past year, I have been a freelancer. Therefore, I have traveled to Egypt, Iran and Lebanon where I taught English, wrote, danced, tasted and experienced different cultures and had the opportunity to discovere myself.
How did you get involved with SB
I actually found about SB from the internet as I was very keen to work with the refugees and had always wanted to visit Lebanon! ☺
Favourite memory with SB?
Of course – the mountain trip! It was a trip that we organised for the children from my class. We went to the Cedars of God in the Bsharri Mountains where most of the children saw and experienced snow for the first time in their lives! We danced, had snowball fights and contemplated the beauty of the place. It was truly unforgettable ☺ Furthermore, on the way back, although most of the volunteers and organisers were tired, it was so incredible to see the children still dancing, singing and jumping on the bus with the music on full blast – as if they wanted to enjoy each and every moment – as if they did not want it to finish…
What do you find challenging?
I think for me what was quite difficult was coping with the kids that were not interested in getting involved. Those that would stand aside or would refuse to participate in an activity, game or exercise. Also, it was challenging to also work with children that had never been in a school environment. You should be patient and give it some time so that you can actually attune yourself with everybody’s needs and way of being.
Advice for a future volunteer?
I think the approach that any volunteer should have in this context is to be more of a companion that wants to help and share, so that together you can create the environment to learn. The whole traditional idea of teaching is different when you place it in the context of a refugee camp. There we should all do our best and learn something every day from each other. Also, there should be lots of flexibility and good humor – songs, playfulness and diversity of activities.
Did it change your life in any way?
Working with people that have lost their way of life, their place, and maybe even their loved ones, as well as their childhood changed me. I understood that I should be grateful for all that I have and that it was the only way to actually be able to help the people facing difficulties. I also admired so many people – men, women, and children – that had such a strong will and attitude towards life even if they went through so much…
I decided to work more with women – getting involved or even creating a women’s empowerment program. I felt a lot of joy while doing the fitness classes and I would like to see where that leads me.
What was the most important lesson you learned?
The most important lesson I learned is that we have the power to choose and make a difference for people that need help now – more than anyone. There are many causes to fight for, it is true, however I believe that education is the best hope we have to bring a change in this world.
In the end, the bottom line is – how responsible are we as humans for what is happening today in the world? And I do believe that we should look further than our own mundane, common struggles and seek to give – our time, our attention, our (in)experience or good intention. Just give ☺
Anything else you want to share?
People tend to complicate things. Keep it simple. We often forget that listening to someone, showing appreciation or even a smile are such tiny acts of kindness. Maybe it is a cliché – however when there is will, there will be a way. As stated in an old saying – ‘it’s rain that grows flowers, not thunder’.
Read more about Alex’s adventures on her blog here where she writes about her experience living and volunteering in Lebanon.
Interested in our volunteering program in Lebanon? Click here to apply!