5 years ago I was lucky enough for Nancy to read about the Barenboim Said Conservatory, in the New York Times. She liked the idea of the conservatory in Israel bringing Arabic Muslims and Jewish youths together in music making , so she reached out to Daniel Barenboim and told him that she would like to have two girls from Nazareth to come and participate at the summer camp. About one month before camp started, the head of the conservatory called my parents and told them about this great opportunity, and of course, they were very excited, and I thought that it was the coolest thing that have ever happened to me. Unfortunately, a week before I went to camp, I broke my ankle at a basketball game. So I was a little nervous and scared, because it was going be the first time that I was away from my parents for such a long time. But that feeling didn't last for long. As soon as I arrived at camp, I could tell that the whole environment was very supportive and loving, and that there was nothing for me to worry about. I met a lot of wonderful girls and staff members many of whom I am still in touch with until this day. And I felt like for once, my background, ethnicity and religious beliefs didn't matter, Belvoir allowed me to be myself.
After I went back home, I couldn't stop telling everyone about how amazing the experience I had at Belvoir was, and ever since then, my sister was hoping that she would have the same opportunity. Going to Belvoir became sort of a dream for her. This past summer, Dana, my sister, went to Belvoir, and she finally understood what I was talking about. Dana also had a successful summer in music and the arts. She also made many friends.
After my experience at Belvoir, I have always wanted to go back to the states to experience freedom again. So, a few years later, I came to New York to play with the Polyphony Ensemble, and my Belvoir family was sitting at the front row. Now, I'm a sophomore at Bard College. It's a small liberal arts school in Upstate-New York. I study there music and human rights. The scholarship of Belvoir, changed the direction of my life.
Interestingly for me, Mais and Dana both felt the warmth, safety and welcoming at Belvoir that they miss in Israel. Mais spoke about this at ArtsAhimsa during camp and this past summer Dana echoed her remarks noting that she felt more comfortable at camp then in Israel, freer, more welcomed. She also enjoyed the music, ceramics, dance, theater, and friends. Scholarship also changed Dana's future. These girls also contributed their unique experiences to the Belvoir community.