“When I first came to this camp, I felt so different from all the others. Because of my headscarf, the way I dress and my religious beliefs I felt like a stranger. But having spent the past three days with you all, I realise that, even though we are from different backgrounds, from different families and cultures, with different friends or different interests, in our core we are all the same and have the same life questions”.
Different but the same
These are the words from a young Dutch adolescent from Moroccan descent, who participated in this year’s &samhoud #brighterfuture summer camp. Her words touched all of us present at the close of three intensive days – participants, their parents and facilitators – and were her response when I asked her what would probably most stick in her memory after the camp. The participants, fifteen teenagers aged 15-19 who need to make some important decisions about their future over the next few years, look tired, but at the same time satisfied and full of energy. They only met each other 50 hours before, but because of the intensity of the programme, it feels like they have spent a whole school year together.
Like perhaps most of us experience in life, it is very hard to think about questions like: Why do I exist? What makes me happy? What do I stand for? What do I excel in? Where am I heading? What do I want to achieve in life? We often do not have the time, or do not make time to think about these complicated questions. And yet at the same time we know that understanding the answers to these questions, getting to know yourself better and being able to connect with others can subsequently help us make good decisions about our future.
Together we build a brighter future
Giving teenagers the opportunity and space to take time to think about these kinds of questions is a step in the direction of our ambition to build a brighter future together by inspiring and connecting people. How we did this? We inspired them through leading examples. We shared our own personal stories about decisions we made in our lives and what we learned from the consequences of these decisions. We listened to the teenagers’ stories, we connected with them during fun outdoor activities and over lots of good food, we gave them feedback and we helped them create their very own personal vision.
Inspiring by connecting
One of my key take-aways from this summer camp was the realization that, no matter where we come from and regardless of which phase we find ourselves in our lives or career, we can all inspire each other through our own experiences, reflections, ideas and sources of inspiration. As long as we keep making the effort to connect with each other.