Blog  Pacific Northwest: Becoming the Change

Pacific Northwest: Becoming the Change

Mitzvah Corps Pacific Northwest has partnered with the International Rescue Committee to support their summer camp. This post, written by 2018 participant Eli Nirenberg, is a reflection of his time working as a counselor with refugee children at camp.

Realizing that a boy who never spoke English can learn a few words from me. Knowing that I and a few others were present for what might be a life changing moment. Helping the lonely, scared boy smile.  Giving him the friendship that he might not have. Because once upon a time, I was lonely. Because I was misunderstood too. Seeing this child begin to break out of his shell. Realizing that this child hasn’t always been so nervous and he won’t be someday soon. Playing tennis and watching him feel happy. Getting a big thank you from his dad. I think that for the first time ever I have truly changed a life. Maybe this Afghan boy feels that for the first time since the chaos in his life, he can be himself.

As I played with the girls as they blasted their home-made noisemakers, I transformed. The playful me which I had forgotten about as I “became an adult” burst out. Having a buzzing competition made me think about all the value there is in raising a child. Children are bundles of persistence, optimism, and happiness. Maybe instead of feeling like I can’t be around them, I could actually have children someday far, far in the future.
I feel a sense of fulfillment today. I feel like I can make an impact on the kids as a friend and role model. Conversely, I gain something from these children. They give me faith in the world, faith in myself, and love for everyone.