For the first month of my stay, I participated in Holy Land Trust’s Palestinian Summer Encounter (PSE) program. During this time, I was able to see different cities in the West Bank, hear a variety of speakers share their stories and experiences, and volunteer at both the Bet Lahem Live Festival and a local organization. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the PSE program, but it did not really give me an idea of what it would look like to someday work in Palestine. Because of this, I decided to stay for the month of September and serve directly under Holy Land Trust as an assistant/volunteer- and it has been an amazing experience.
As a short term volunteer, I had a couple of concerns about working at Holy Land Trust. Since I would be at Holy Land Trust for only one month, I was worried that I would be given very unimportant and easy tasks. On the other hand, I was nervous that I may be given only one project to work on and that I would not be able to obtain a solid understanding of the various components that come together that make an organization that tries to create peace in a heavily conflicted area like this work.
This however, was not the case. Since I began volunteering at Holy Land Trust at the beginning of September, I have been given a range of diverse tasks- tasks that I both enjoy doing, and that I feel are not ‘easy and unimportant’. To date, I have been able to:
- Sit in on a financial meeting
- Write reports
- Interview employees, and type short employee bios for the HLT website
- Assist the director
- Collect and format letters of recommendation for the 2105 PSE participants
- Learn how to input business cards into a database
- Edit the 2015 Bet Lahem Live Festival report
Being here, I have definitely been kept busy, which I enjoy very much. By working on projects from writing and editing to learning how to format and enter information into a computer, I have been able to enhance my ability to work hard, as well as understand the dynamics of how HLT functions and grows as a cross cultural ‘bridge-building’ organization.
Another factor that has made my time at Holy Land Trust so pleasant is the staff. Everyone who works here is kind, friendly, and hardworking. They create a family-like environment, and have been extremely welcoming. Any time I have questions about anything, I have been able to email or ask one of the staff members, and they have always been willing to help. I have been asked repeatedly if I enjoy the work that I have been given- and it has been really great to volunteer in a place that not only cares about the quality of the work produced, but also the feelings of the person doing the work. Additionally, having just finished high school, I am the youngest person currently working/volunteering at Holy Land Trust. However, I have never felt that I have been ignored or treated like a child. On the contrary, I have been treated as an adult and, because of this, have been able to work on responsibility, time management, and excellence.
I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to volunteer at HLT. It has been a phenomenal experience. Everything- the work I have been given, my interactions with everyone on staff, how I have been treated- has been wonderful. Holy Land Trust is truly a unique organization doing amazing things for the community and it has been an absolute privilege to volunteer under them.