Thursday, June 16, 2016

ACS - June 2016 - Final Day

Over our middle school years at ACS we have taken three trips around the world, but this adventure has by far been the best. Even the times where we just sat around talking to each other and exchanging stories with our guides were completely different.  While we were here we visited a school for unfortunate kids and some of whom lost everything in the flood.
Seeing a school so unlike ours opened our eyes to what life in the real world outside our bubble really was. The kids we saw were happy with what little they had while we have so much and still complain. As we walked in all the little kids welcomed us with respect and leaves. These leaves were a sign that they appreciated our company and a symbol of respect. They also shared some songs with us. As community service we painted their school walls and had fun running around with the kids. We also donated some sport equipment.
            Canyoning was a beautiful experience that everyone should have once in their lives, sliding down waterfalls and jumping off cliffs was exhilarating and scary at the same time. Whenever someone was scared the whole group supporting them and pushed them into wanting to do the jump. Everyone overcame his/her fears.
Rafting was an amazing and experience. We were fighting the river as a team while we floated over rapids. Some rapids were stronger then others making people fall out and flip. We were taught how to lead a raft and how to properly rescue a person that has fallen. We were very upset when we knew that the river may disappear after couple of years because they were building a hydroelectric dam that will allow them to produce electricity.
After both rafting and canyoning we floated back to camp via the river which was mind-blowing and silly at the same time. We joked around but also had to pay attention to the tips they gave us so we would be able to keep safe. Once we got back to camp we all were tired and sad that the fun is over. Although we were sad all that was washed away in a hot shower.
Now at the end of this trip we are happy to go home but are sad that we will never fall asleep to the sound of this river again or be able to share mango strawberry chocolate and best of all vanilla milkshakes with our friends around the longhouse. We will miss the sound of the rain as it falls on our tents while we try to stay calm within all the odd insects we have discovered here, Throughout all of our activities our guides took photos and videos that we will never be able to forget and before we went to bed the last night here we watched all of them. This trip has changed our lives and the way we think. We will never forget it or be the same after this trip. Connecting it to the ACS mission statement, we solved problems with creativity and integrity and this will make us lead well balanced lives, and to serve Lebanon and the world community with understanding and compassion. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

ACS - June 2016 - Day 4

Today, day 4 and final full day at borderlands, everyone had a lot of fun thanks to a day packed with action. In the morning, we were all exhausted and tired because of a tiring day yesterday. Everyone was at least 10 minutes late from morning stretches. Right after that, we play a team game called the bird and the tree; every two people formed a group and the bird had to fly to the tree after hearing a clap from the guide. To make it even more entertaining, free milkshakes for the winners were on the line! Omar and Jude ended up winning which made everyone jealous because we all loved those milkshakes. 

All day we went from one activity to the other in no time. Me and my team went canyoning and for us to be able to do that, we had to walk 5k to arrive at our destination, the canyon. We all had lots of fun sliding, jumping, walking on rocks, and diving into the river. We came back to camp floating in the river in groups forming circles for no one to get lost. 

Directly after that, we had to find a way to boil an egg with only matches, dead plants and of course, the egg itself. My team managed to get first and we were all very happy with our standings. We continued the team games with a very hard and tricky activity. We had to find a way to cross a high rope with everyone holding hands and trying not to touch it. 

We were all extremely tired after a long day so, we decided to jump in the river to refresh ourselves and have fun.  Everyone was getting ready to shower so we could all have a fun night celebrating our last day here at camp. As usual, the bar was packed at 6 pm and everyone wanted milkshakes. Two minutes after we got ourselves these milkshakes, the bar was packed again with all of us demanding milkshakes and hoping that the bartender will notice us. 

This night was awesome. It started off with Wade, the director, singing some songs to us to make us feel comfortable and happy. Many students also performed songs, including me. Everyone was happy and dancing after the talent show with us hosting a party to say goodbye to this wonderful place. Borderlands has taught us so many things. For example, many of us learned to overcome our fear of bugs, which was a big step forward for some people. Also, Borderlands taught us to never give up and to always keep marching forward.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

ACS- June - Day 3

Today was a day like no other because everyone faced some sort of challenge. The day began in a distant, muddy camp where we had to spend the night. With sleepy eyes, we made our way to the longhouse where we all drank tea to wake up. 

Unlike the other days, instead of just eating breakfast, we were surprised with a morning stretch. This stretch was supposed to help us get ready for the long day ahead of us. After stretching, we finally got to have breakfast and do trust exercises. Right after that, we finally did what we were promised; we had the chance to go canyoning and rafting. 

During canyoning, many students were asked to exceed their comfort zone and participate in all of the different tasks they were asked to do. Even though some students were not looking forward to jumping off high rocks, with the support of their peers they overcame their fears and accepted the challenge. The other group participated in the rafting activity. It consisted of going downstream against strong rapids, which was very enjoyable. This activity also scared some students; but they faced their fears. Facing fears takes strength, which everyone received from one another. After the activities were over, we all swam/floated back to Borderlands. 

The day ended with a fun night of games and relaxation in the camp’s long house. Over all, today was memorable experience, and we look forward to the challenges we will face tomorrow.

Monday, June 13, 2016

ACS - June 2016 - Day 2

I was asked to describe today in a couple of paragraphs or less… I don’t even know if I could describe it in a lifetime. Since Zeina is standing behind me threatening to kill me if I don’t hurry up, I’ll try and make this quick.
We woke up this morning to Miss Skaff tapping on the door of the tent telling us to wake up. Obviously, I fell asleep again for another 15 minutes, and didn’t get up until I was smacked in the head by one of my friends and yelled at for being late. We packed our bags and went to breakfast, where we enjoyed a brilliant show of someone being “attacked” by a spider. It would be rude to say that we laughed, but we did. I’m sure the people in India did too, since the screams were so loud someone might as well have been murdered.
We left the camp later that morning, wishing the camp a brief goodbye and only packing the basics in our carry on bags. I really wish I could say that I absorbed the beauty of the country and the gorgeousness of the nature while on the hour long bus ride, but quite honestly, I spent the entire time asleep on the back of the chair.
We got to the school later in the day, only to be greeted with a surprise. All of the children were standing outside in two rows, waiting for us. This was already very sweet and welcoming as it is, I know I’m not the only one to say that we were shocked by something else. As we walked into the school, the children handed us leaves. Yes, leaves. Why? I’m not exactly sure. Maybe it was because they had nothing else to offer, maybe it was something symbolic. Either way, almost everyone took a leaf, and kept it the entire time.
The teachers and students of both of our schools got together and lit the oil lamp, which was supposedly a tradition of theirs. A group of girls from the school showed us a lovely dance, and I was so shocked to see that no one from our school said a word, and sat in a respectful silence until the very end. This was really surprising, since we happen to be the most immature group of kids in the world, and we laugh if the wind blows the wrong way. A few kids from our school also performed, and the other children were equally respectful.
We wrapped up the day with football and cricket, and were given a couple of hours to switch between playing sports and painting the walls of the school. We had time to bond with the children of the school, and overcome the language barrier to exchange a smile.
Overall, it was an amazing day, and I can’t wait for the days to come.

By Maysoun           

Today was an unbelievable day. When my teachers first told me WWW Sri Lanka would change me, I did not take it seriously but now, it is only our first official day and I cannot describe the amount of love the people have shown towards us. Today we went to a public school in an area in the depths of nature of Sri Lanka. I was shocked. The school’s condition is really disappointing because unfortunately the economy is not superb. But, if a random person looks at the school from outside, they would never imagine the children attending there. I think the children were in 4th or 3rd grade because they are very small but they are some of the most humble people I have ever met. We were greeted by two wonderful lines of children holding little leaves as welcoming gifts. That really showed me how much they want to offer anything they can. I was told to greet them by bowing and saying ‘Ayubowan’ to them as a respectful gest. Some of these kids as I was told, lost everything they once had prior to the mud slides and storms that happened a few weeks before our arrival, yet they seemed so happy and cheerful when we came. We gave them bags, books and playing materials because they lost so much. Then, all of a sudden, as they were handed these gifts, they bowed down to us. I felt my eyes widen. I was shocked. I really started thinking that these children lost everything they ever had yet, life kept on going, and they were not complaining; they are always smiling and want to give whenever they can. After today I can say that I have changed a lot. Seeing the condition of the school, and the very little that they had, they were so satisfied and thankful for whatever life had to offer to them, while back home we complain to our parents about how we did not want this phone, or how we never have enough clothes to wear, or even about allowances. Some of these children probably do not know what an Iphone is or do not have a proper pair of shoes. The nicest part of this experience was when I got to play with one of the little girls after the reception and she kept on saying thank you and hugging me, she even gave me a kiss before I left and told her bye. I will never forget what I witnessed today and will forever be thankful of the wonderful life I am offered compared to these kids.

Ok so, after a long life changing day in Sri Lanka, I am happy to say my life changed. As a summary I just want to mention what happened at the school today. We heard that the kids at the school were very sweet and kind enough that they prepared a dance for us. The song and the dance were very heart touching. It felt like they were actually professionally prepared children that performed to us, but the heart touching reality was that all of them are poor little kids that are less fortunate than us. I felt my heart shatter when we offered 18 children whose homes and basically all the belongings got destroyed by the flood, bowed down to feet level of our teacher and student who offered it. They had the biggest smile on their faces and it was so heart breaking that something so small (like a bag and some pencils) can make someone so happy. When Jad, Jood, Dahlia, and I had all out performances we all saw big smiles of appreciation for something as small as a song. I only had like 10 minutes to write that (thank you maysoun), but what I wanted to say is that after this day I have so much appreciation for everything I have and I think everyone has more appreciation now. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

ACS - June 2016 - Day 1

Sri Lanka is a trip that we’ve been looking forward to for so long, and so far it has exceeded our expectations by a long shot. The flights from Beirut to Colombo were very tiring, and it was difficult for some of us to sleep comfortably. When we finally reached our destination, we were disappointed to find  that we still had a 3 hour bus ride ahead of us, but as we passed through Colombo and into Kathulgala, we were amazed at the greenery and the great scenery that we saw outside. The endless stretches of forests, the unique and adorable transportation systems, and the happy wildlife that we saw and heard was incredible to witness. On the way, a few students and teachers were lucky enough to see an elephant wading through the river and some deer crossing it as well!
                At last, when we reached Borderlands were kindly guided around the camp by Sean, the course director, who explained the different parts of the area and presented us with our roommates. We then had a quick lunch which consisted of spicy yellow rice with chicken and poppadums. For dessert, we had pineapples and bananas, and after that, we were told that we could change into our swimsuits to take a dip in the river. It turned out to be quite cold, but we handled it well and had some fun swimming through the currents.  After we took our showers, we all gathered in the long house, an area designed for relaxing and snacking, and enjoyed milkshakes as well as other treats. After that, we were allowed some time on our phones to communicate with our parents, but most people couldn’t, as there was no internet.

                Currently, we are waiting for dinner to be served and wondering about which activities and challenges will be presented to us tomorrow. We want you to know that everything is going well and we are having an amazing time. Goodnight!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

BSC Adventure -- Day 2 -- Into the Canyon

After a very early morning wake-up, there were a wide range of energy levels differing from student-to-student.
Quite a few of whom were still recovering from the action packed first day, which consisted of a long, steep, and leech-infested hike up to the ancient Belilena Cave, along with some challenging rain-drenched activities at the top.

Our energy levels began to rise after a big breakfast and some morning stretches, and after a few short activities, we were prepared to embark on another full day.
Starting off with a hike, we took the long road to the canyon, prolonging our anticipation with every step we took.
The sound of the canyon's rushing water grew louder and louder as we approached it, and before we knew it we were ready to jump in.
Once in the canyon, students were met with a combination of fear and excitement-- hesitant and eager at the same time.
Yet the fear died down with every jump and slide through the canyon, with a large number of students hoping there were more jumps awaiting once we reached the end.

With the adrenaline still pumping, we marched over to our next activity-- rafting back to camp!
After loading onto the rafts, we starting paddling back to camp.
A number of students even opted to jump overboard and float a great deal of the way back.
Everyone overcame today's challenges and students managed their fears successfully.
Students supported each other unconditionally throughout the day, whether that meant signalling one another to look out for wet rocks, or helping pull a blood-sucking leech off a friend's leg.
Any sort of hesitancy that might have been present at the beginning of the day pretty much vanished in the end.

Now onward to the next full day of adventure!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

ACS Service Day

Another day gone, another story. But this wasn’t a story of jungle adventure and of thrill, for this was a story of the best kind, a story of giving. Today, memories were made, not to be carved in stone and preserved but rather to be remade into allegories to be retold for years to come. Today, the A.C.S. students changed lives, and it was done through service.

We visited a local school that was in need of supplies, resources, and mainly: help. We had gone to this school with the best of intentions, with open hearts ready to provide as much service as they could possibly offer, and honestly, the result was just as rewarding. The people we bonded with were local Sri Lankan kids, kids whose parents worked day and night to be able to fund their education and to give them a good life, but no matter how much darkness was in their lives, they took it out of ours. These kids showed us how to be optimistic, to be hopeful in the direst of times, and not to let anything stop you. Even though there was a language barrier, that had stopped neither of the two parties, for in the end, we merged into one. We learned just so much today, from how to play cricket to Sri Lankan food customs, and I hope the kids could learn just as much from us.

Today provided the opportunity of a lifetime, an opportunity to give rather than take, for service to others is service to one’s self. It is moments like this that bring out true compassion, the virtue that separates man from animal. To all the parents waiting eagerly in Lebanon, I want you to know that all is well, and to all the kids of today, we want you to know what a good time you had given us.

By: Anas Adam