After I decided to volunteer in Nazareth I knew I was going to have the adventure of a lifetime. I wasn’t sure what to expect. So many questions raced around my mind. Is it safe? Will I enjoy myself? What if I don’t like my hosts? Would I even be welcomed? Will anyone even speak English? To be honest Israel was one of the last places I desired to visit, let alone volunteer for a month. Then why on earth did I decide to go there? At the time I chose to go I didn’t have an answer for this question; I still don’t have an answer for this question and I don’t know if I ever will. In any case I went…
Upon my arrival I must have gotten lost about five times. At one point I entered the home of a resident thinking it was the Hostel Simsim. When I entered the house I was greeted by an elderly lady who peered at me in utter confusion. I of course thinking that I was in the right place couldn’t stop smiling from the excitement of finally having made it to my destination. After I set my bags down I began to chat with the elderly woman. I quickly realized that she only spoke Arabic. After some minutes of conversing in improve sign language she called over a younger woman who spoke a little English. To my dismay she told me that I was in the wrong place and then pointed me to the right direction. I flushed a deep red from embarrassment, snatched my bags and then rushed out of the door. I soon stumbled upon a simsim sign on one of the walls. I followed the signs. After a few more interesting events of the night I finally met Sami and Silke.
The rest of my time at Simsim was nothing short of a blessing. Sami and Silke are exceptional hosts and some of the most understanding people that I have ever met. At first, it took me a while to adjust to a different culture. As an independent Western woman, with a different lifestyle and mindset, it was initially difficult for me to understand why things were the way they were, but once I got past the this hurdle remarkable things started to happen. My eyes were opened to how another culture, one so radically different from mine, sees and experiences the world. This is something of immeasurable value and is in my opinion one of the greatest rewards a person can gain in lifes’ journey.When I first started working Silke told me to treat Simsim as if it were my home. I took her advice and I soon fell in love with not only Simsim, but also with Nazareth and her people. To make this more enjoyable I had the privilege of meeting people from all over the world. All with unique stories of their own.
The actual work you do as a volunteer is not difficult. It consists of light cleaning, watering plants, facilitating guest check ins and check outs, and occasionally making breakfast. I would certainly encourage anyone even thinking about volunteering to do it; even if you are unsure about it. When I first arrived I doubted my decision,but now I am indebted with gratitude for such an experience.
Silke and Sami, thank you for everything. I will certainly see you again.