Friday, December 18, 2015

1 Down 3 More to Go

Ciao world,
Sorry I haven't updated the last month but it has been hectic, finals week was very stressing and exhausting but I pushed through and with not too bad grades if I may see, overall first term was a success.

I have to admit for the past two weeks all I've thought of and all I've wanted is to go home. Don't get me wrong I love it here but I just needed a break, but yesterday my best friend Nina (Denmark) left and then it hit me, I'm not going to see these people for a month, I'm not going to cross the Neretva, or see that huge orange building or even eat canteen food for a month and that is going to be strange and unfamiliar as this has become my everyday norm.

I'm not going to try to summarise first term in one post, as I cannot but in short this has been truly the best experience of my life. I have lived and grown in these past 4 months as much as I have my entire life, I wouldn't say I'm a different person but I have definitely developed as a person, I've met amazing people who have helped me grow and be a stronger person and showed me different ways to look at life and I'm really grateful for all these people for being there with me through these exciting but tough months.

I'm going to be home in 4 days, the idea seems very strange, home is such a strange concept. Can you only have one home? Some say home is where the heart is and right now my heart is torn between Mostar and Haifa.

See you soon,

Mostar grieving for Paris

Mostar Climate March, Stopping Climate Change in Style

Getting Ready for Christmas
Celebrating Hanukkah and Making Tabula

Spirit Week 2k15

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Midterms and Mines

Ciao people,

So last couple of weeks were pretty uneventful, routine is starting to kick in and days are always full especially last week when we had midterms so there was some studying but the world here doesn't stop during exam periods like back home you still have to go to your CASes and do anything else you should do, it's a bit tricky sometimes to manage time here but I'm slowly learning.

A couple weekends ago, Clemens (Austria) told us that there's a really nice bridge we could go hang out at and he took us there, it's a bridge that was a Yugoslavian project so it was started but never finished it's HUGE and the view from there is amazing, I laid down on the cold concrete ground of the bridge and just stared at the starts with Clemens playing music in the background, it was a pretty cool (literally and figuratively) evening.
That weekend we had our Halloween party, for my service CAS I have MOPS (Mostar Peer Support), so we were part of organising the party. Saturday morning from around 11am until 6pm we spent preparing everything for the party (which included me and Marita-Germany rolling a shopping cart around Mostar a few times), but in the end those hours and hours of planning paid off and the party was one of the best parties I've ever had.

(Left to right, Leman Germany, Ava Scotland,
Dor Israel, Pauline Germany, a random lady and
her daughter, Sawab Palestine.)

(Left to right, Clemens Austria, Me, Nina Denmark)

This weekend on Saturday, Nina (Denmark) asked me if I would like to hike with her and Stejpan, Vanja (BiH) and Arsalaan (Pakistan) to the famous cross that's on a mountain overlooking the whole of Mostar so I said yeah sure why not. We started our journey on a normal street going up the mountain then for some reason we decided to go off the road and on another path which was literally just going up the mountain rock by rock, it was one of the most terrifying things I've done especially when I thought about all the stories of mines planted all around BiH (sorry mom) but at the end the mountain ended and we reached the top and the view was amazing.

Peace out,

Friday, October 23, 2015

Hello people, 
So last post I mentioned Project Week which this post is going to be all dedicated to.
As I mentioned before for my Project Week I went for 6 days to the Capital of Serbia, Belgrade which is an amazing city in the north of Serbia which means from Mostar there’s a bus ride of about 12 hours. 
(Vanja from BiH)

So on Sunday evening we (Me, Harisa, Selma, Hana, Kata and Dino from BiH, Amaranta from Chile, Oristja from Albania, Marta from Portugal, Carmi my co-year from Israel and our Supervisor Alessandro our maths teacher from Italy) left Mostar around 8pm and the next morning at 8 we arrived in Belgrade after a horrible bus ride, the driver stopping every hour for a break and getting a horrible neck ache from trying to get a bit of sleep.
We arrived and it took us about an hour dragging around our suitcases in the cold and rain to find our hostel but we eventually got there, took a quick, nice, much needed nap then headed to the centre of Refugee Aid Serbia the organisation that we were volunteering for. When we first got there I got a shock, I’m not going to lie it was a very shocking site, it is a little centre in an industrial area close to the park where the refugees stay in their tents, it has a small corner for clothes, one for shoes, another for food and hygiene products, a small tea/warm milk/cookies stand and a bathroom but that was not the shocking thing, the shocking thing was the tens of young men with shredded clothes, shoes two sizes bigger than their own, without any socks in the freezing cold  queuing up to get warm with a nice cup of tea that sight made all the numbers and statistics the media talks about real it made the huge “refugee crisis” that everyone talks about a concrete actual living thing.

(Refugee Aid Serbia centre)

The first day there weren’t much people because it was cold and raining and they preferred to stay in their tents warming up together so me and a few of the girls went to the back where they stored clothes and sorted them through. After a few hours we were finished and decided to go back.
At night we went out a bit to explore Belgrade which was very nice, Belgrade is a very beautiful but strange city it is a combination of a classical European city and a classical scarred by the war, ruins full Balkan city which makes it very special. Pictures are the best way to show you the beauty of Belgrade so…

Next day we woke up early and went to the centre again, this time I went to work in the hygiene products stand and while sorting clothes is also important and very much needed to get the proper clothes for the refugees, handing out the hygiene products felt more useful somehow and I had more of a contact with them which was nice because I could put faces to the people that I’m helping and sometimes even chat with them. One of the things that surprised me the most was how humble these people were, if I would hand someone two soaps they would give me back one and say one is fine, if I offered them shampoo and they already had some they would refuse it and when they asked me for something that we didn’t have (usually razors and hair gel) they would smile and thank me and in my head I’m saying “No, don’t thank me I could helped more but I can’t!”. 
That day one of the most amazing things I will never forget happened, most of the refugees that we had over that week were from Afghanistan so I couldn’t help much with my Arabic but that second a Syrian family came and my friends called me over to help I started speaking with the mother who had a baby girl and three little boys and helping her with whatever she needs then I asked her what’s her daughter’s name and she says “Malak”, my face just breaks into a huge smile that was one of the happiest moments of my week, it sounds very silly I know but it was just so nice to hear she that beautiful baby girl has the same name as me.

During the next days we kept going every morning to the centre and helping out there, everyday more people were coming and I felt like I helped more and more people everyday even if I only did something as simple as giving them a toothbrush whenever they thanked me and smiled I would just feel pure joy. There were some Syrian families that I helped but not much as most people were from Afghanistan but there was this little boy that I will never forget, we helped him get clothes, food, some tea I chatted and laughed with him for a bit then I noticed that he’s alone so I asked him where are your parents and he replies “Back home, in Syria” and my heart just breaks and I remember how extreme this issue is, how real it is and this guy was not the only one who had a hard, tragic road to get to Europe, people told us they were jailed, got their money stolen, walked in forests for days, had no food and drink for days, people are doing all of this to escape the fear back in their countries, the danger to get a better life for themselves and a future for their children, one women told me “We didn’t come here for ourselves, we are too old. We came here for our children, back in Iraq they have no future, here we can give them a chance.”

On the third day Marta told me she met someone who is starting a new NGO and he’s making sandwiches and going to the park, handing them out to the refugees then taking some footballs,volleyballs, a drum… and hanging out with the refugees, dancing, playing, getting to know them… She asked me if I want to join and I said sure why not, so we went and met Josh from the US he’s the person responsible for this project, he’s an amazing guy who has given a lot for these refugees and has been going for over a month straight to the park and is trying to do so much for them to have a few hours of fun and normality everyday which is for me as important as handing out clothes, food…
So we made the sandwiches then went to the park, handed them out and then started the actual fun. Those few hours that I spent in the park everyday were one of the most amazing hours of my project week and even my life, that experience was just life changing, even with the language barrier we got so close to some of these guys, we danced, we made drawing together, played volleyball, got married a few times (yes Afghanis have a thing for getting married hahah), I even spent about two hours just throwing a ball back and forth with a little 3 year old kid and they were one of the best 2 hours of my life.

(From left to right, Dino, Josh, me, Amaranta, Marta, 
Kata, Carmi, a volunteer from Spain and in the bottom
a volunteer from Spain and Serbia)

I can surely say my project week was very successful, I want to thank Selma our project week leader who organised everything so well, Alessandro my favourite Italian, the amazing people at Refugee Aid Serbia, Josh who is making an amazing thing and all the volunteers I met from all around the world, Spain, Bangladesh, Serbia, Chile, The Netherlands. And finally I want to thank all the amazing refugees that I met that even through all their pain and loss are still hanging on, smiling, playing, enjoying life, Thank you guys for giving me an amazing week that changed my life forever.

Peace out.

Friday, October 2, 2015

CASs and Split

Hi World,

So I’d like to dedicate this blog post to two things, first of all CAS-s and then Split.

CAS stands for Creativity, Action and Service. It’s mandatory to do certain hours of each of these things to get your IB diploma. In UWCiM we have many choices to choose from I chose for Creativity MUN (Model United Nations), Action Fitness for Girls and Others and Service MOPS (Mostar Peer Support).
MUN is one of my favourite things to do, I’ve been to two conferences last year and it was one of the best experiences of my life and now having MUN as my core creativity CAS is amazing we have a mini-confernce every week with a different topic and representing different countries and at some point we’ll start planning for MUNiM a conference our school will host with people from different schools and even different countries.
Then for my action CAS I have Fitness for Girls and Others not much to say about it we do about an hour and a half for fitness and I really like it even though sometimes I need to push myself a bit but it feels really good afterwards and our leaders are really nice and always tell us that if we need to stop at any point we can.
Lastly for my service CAS I’m doing MOPS which is a CAS that actually my Israeli 8th year Yuval apparently started and it was stopped for a while but this year it was restarted by two of my German second years Leman and Pauline. Mostar Peer Support is a CAS that basically aims to be a support group for the community we have here in UWCiM and try to make life better and more entraining and fun for everyone through various ways and actives. We only had one meeting so far and we looked through potential things we could do and I’m honestly really excited for this CAS and to see where it goes.

And now for the second thing Split, Croatia.
So we had this four day vacation for Bajram which is a muslim holiday (عيد الاضحى) so me and my friends decided to go to Split for these four days since it’s only about 4 hours away from Mostar and it’s a really beautiful city.
We left Wednesday after school and we arrived at our 9pm (because 3 people forget their passports), we met up with the lady that was renting us our apartment and went there it was a really good apartment right in the centre of the old town it had everything we needed, enough beds, a kitchen, a little balcony, there was even some sugar, flour, tea and a couple of more stuff in the kitchen. After leaving all our stuff and settling in we put on our swimsuits and decided to go for a night swim.
I missed the beach and the sea so much that the moment I saw the sand and the water I started screaming and running towards it, I ran into the water and it honestly one of the best moments I’ve had here so far it made me feel like home for a few moments and it was just a surreal experience to be in another country with a group of my very close friends swimming at 10pm looking up at the stars.
The other days were basically all the same, waking up, going shopping for food, making breakfast, sleeping some more, going out to the city a bit, making lunch, swimming, going out, sleeping, repeating. It was just perfect. It has always been a dream of mine to travel with friends to another country and I actually achieved it, I really felt like we were a family, it was hard at times to live with 9 people and clean the hundreds of dishes that accumulated and deciding on things but the end I enjoyed every minute of it.

I’m sorry this post was a bit long but I needed to catch up on a lot of things and before ending this post I just want to talk a bit about Project Week which is a week in every UWC where you have projects (wow such a shock right a project week having projects) and I’m going to spend my Project Week in Belgrade, Serbia helping out with refugees there which is such so surreal and I can’t wait.

Peace out, 


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Edge of the World, Field Trip and UWC Day

Hello world,

UWCiM is an open campus college which means that we live in different residences around the city, mine is Musala which is the closest to the school, it can be a bit messy and dirty sometimes and very lazy but it's amazing I love it. Mejdan is about 15 minutes from the school and it's in the heart of the old town and Sušac which is the farthest it's at the edge of the world (about 30 minutes from school) and it's the biggest residence and unfortunately it's where all my friends live which basically means I have a long distance friendship but regardless of the 30 minutes walk I spend most of time there with my friends and I have slept over there over two weekends which was so much fun, we hung out, cuddled, watched Shutter Island and as goes in Sušac fell asleep 2 people in a bed in the weirdest positions ever.
(mandatory Sušac mirror selfie)

On Monday the 14th it was the jewish new year (Rosh Hashana) and the Jewish society in Mostar invited us the Israelis to dinner and I wasn't sure if I should go because I'm not Jewish but I really wanted to go and experience it, my second years told me it was totally fine to go so I went with them and it was really amazing to experience a traditional jewish new year dinner.

(from left to right, Avigial my second year from 
Israel, me, Romi my other second year and Marie
a second year from Germany)

So that week on Thursday we went to a Visual Arts field trip and instead of talking about it I'm going to attach pictures.

(beautiful Zdenk from Czech Republic)

So my week ended with UWC Day on Saturday which is a day we celebrate cultures from all around the world, every country had a stand in the park next to our school displaying their food, national costume and anything that represents their country and it awesome to celebrate all these different cultures and at the same time realising that we're actually more alike than different.

(Marta from Spain)

(from left to right Lejla from BiH, Emma from Italy,
Clemens from Austria, me and on the bottom Lola from 

(Marwan from Syria)

(The Arabs)

Peace and Love,