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March 28, 2011

Below are journal entries shared by a PQ graduate.  Besides being a testament to the power of expression through journaling, this student’s account highlights the questions, confusion, internal conflict, courage, and strength that comes from facing oneself and the world. Further, it demonstrates the importance of challenging ones own perspectives and assumptions and remaining open to growing through the experience.

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September Journal EntryAs you may remember from our talk about my experience at pacific quest, one of the main things you do in the program is develop a statement of intent for the way you want to live your life when you get home. I have decided to focus the majority of my journal entries on evaluating how I’ve been doing with my intent each month, with additional comments if I see them to be relevant. So just to recap on our conversation, my intent is “I am an accepting, clear-minded man, who is ready to face himself and the world.”
Over most of the past month I have been having an internal struggle with my intent that almost ended in my discarding it entirely. Although I have not for one minute lost focus being clear-minded(meaning not using pot and also actually being using my mind by being in my own head), I was not accepting the work I had to do, and was pretty much flat out procrastinating. is what I always did in my “old story” It has been pretty rough for me because every time I fail to stick to my intent it makes me feel like I didn’t actually learn anything at pacific quest, but all I needed was a little self-motivation, and here I am writing. I may have fallen off for a little while, but I think it was a good experience because it made me realize that I can go through a slump and come out the other side, and better for it.
A big part of my fears is college itself. The fact is that I have messed up so many things in my life that why wouldn’t I do one more. Even though I know I could do it, it still  terrifies me to think about. I think it might have more to do with how hard it will be for me. It makes me think about my learning disability, and brings back memories of how worthless it made me feel to see other kids get their work done in half the time that I could. I think that because I know that though, I will be all that much more able to move past that in the classroom setting and succeed.
On another note, my Grandpa died this month while in a hip-replacement surgery.  I took it pretty hard especially since I wasn’t even told that he was in surgery. I was pretty close to him, but I really wish I had more time to actually get to know him.

October Journal Entry

“I am an accepting, clear-minded man, who is ready to face himself and the world.”
Throughout the past thirty-one days, I have had some of the best days of my life, but also some of the worst. I got to travel all over Israel, learning about all the different cultures that exist in such a small country. Then, on top of that, I had my 18th birthday, which was more than I could ever ask for. Three of my best friends on my program organized a thing we call a “chevrati” (which means fun activity)for my birthday, where everyone participated in various competitions like, dance-offs, rap battles, etc. What a night.
It’s interesting turning 18 because everybody suddenly treats you a little differently. Before hand I already felt like a man, and still feel like one now, but there’s something about the legality of no longer being a minor that makes you seem a little more mature. Now, I didn’t fully realize the effects this number has on me until I was at one of my lowest points since coming to Israel. You see, when I left home to come on this 9 month adventure, I also had to leave my girlfriend Leah. We organized a system where we would catch up once a month on Skype.
A few days after my birthday, I was having one of our routine monthly check-ins and it was going alright until the end when we said our goodbyes. I broke down into a terrible depression. It had been a couple days of me being like that when I remembered my intent; specifically the word “man.” It was then that I realized being legally a man doesn’t only mean you’re legally responsible for yourself, but also that you’re responsible for your own well-being. That revelation helped me pull myself together and know that there will be other times when I am in a similarly despairing place, and I should remember in those times what I learned when I became a man.

November Journal Entry

“I am an accepting, clear-minded man, who is ready to face himself and the world.”
After the events of the past month I have come to realize that living in Israel is the best place to live out my intent because it forces me to accept my reality in a way that no other place can. Growing up as a Jew in America, I always was very aware of the state of conflict that Israel was in, but only ever on a global level. I never experienced the way this national mentality had trickled down to the individual level.
Habonim Dror, the youth movement that runs my program, has several other programs similar to mine that are run for kids from other countries around the world. Two of these programs, one from Australia and one from South Africa, ended this month, and as a goodbye to the rest of us, the Australians threw a party at their house in Acco. Everything was going great. We were all having a good time, despite our sadness at having to say goodbye to all our friends. Then out of nowhere, a pack of about 12 Israeli kids came and started attacking us. They threw rocks, bottles, hit people with metal piping. You name it, they did it. We had to call police. I was furious that these kids, for no reason whatever would just come terrorize a bunch of extremely friendly people. It wasn’t until later that I began to understand the mentality behind their actions. Their country, the environment they grew up in has been in a constant state of conflict for the entirety of its existence. Its actually all they know, and they are not alone. In a sense, I’m glad I went through that because I came out the other side with a new level of acceptance that I otherwise may never have achieved; not an acceptance that this behavior is condonable, but more of a commitment that I should try to change it.
On another note, we had thanksgiving. Sorry, this didn’t really give me some incredible revelation, but it did bring our little family of 27 much closer together.

December Journal Entry

“I am an accepting, clear-minded man, who is ready to face himself and the world.”
The past month has brought forth a plethera of knowledge, and with it, a mass of questions as well. We had our Habonim(my youth movement) history seminar, which was by far the most informative seminar yet. The first couple days were somewhat disheartening because, as we went around to all the different Kibbutzim founded by Habonim, it looked to me that the Kibbutz movement was completely dead. Growing up in Habonim, even just growing up as a Jew in America, the Kibbutz movement is constantly glorified, mostly because it was so instrumental in founding the state of Israel. To realize that all across the nation, people who still today call themselves part of my movement, sacrificed their ideology for simple material gain was crushing. This knowledge flooded my head with questions such as: “How could this happen? Where did they go wrong? How do I fix this?”
I went into the next day of things with pretty low expectations and pretty high skepticism. We were going to see this British guy James who was apparently some kind of Habonim guru. I must say, despite my recently found skepticism, I came out of James’ house with a rediscovered positive outlook on the movement. James was the pioneer of a “new kibbutz movement,” where people still live communally and work together, but instead of working on farms, trying to cultivate the land of Israel, they live in cities, working in their communities, trying to build a culture of equality.
Now, the knowledge of this, however invigorating it may be, also brings forth many questions. It really got me thinking. I now knew how I could go about trying to fix things in Israel, but what I should do with that information was an even bigger question, one that I haven’t yet figured out the answer to. I could choose either to live my life out in the states as the Elementary school teacher I hope to become, or I could live my life out in Israel trying to cultivate a culture of peace in a country of conflict. At the moment I have no idea which path I will choose, but I have decided, that either way, I will come back to America for college. That much is certain.

 

 


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