Some of the first comments we heard from those we work with spoke of our spirit as if it was a special thing that only we possess, that it was different than that of any other person they know. Hearing comments like that is very exciting and acts as a driving force, since we know that God has placed His Spirit in us so that we can use it to have an impact and inspire those around us.
Our volunteer program has its roots in the Ambassador Foundation, and one of the teachers at the Amman Baccalaureate School (ABS) has had the privilege of interacting with our volunteers from the beginning. Abdel Razzaq Najjar is the director of the Creativity, Action and Service (CAS) program, the El Hassan Youth award, as well as many other programs and has taught at the school for 25 years.
The CAS program encourages students to grow as individuals through creative ways, such as art, drama, student yearbook, sports and community service. Mr. Najjar is well respected by the students and almost immediately creates a bond with those with whom he interacts, in particular with the students through the guidance he provides them. He is one of my inspirations, and I cannot begin to imagine the amount of inspiration and guidance that he has given to the volunteers throughout the years.
Placing a Physical Stamp
Recently, I was able to accompany him and some students to a community service project at a nearby school that is located in a poorer area of the country. It was the first of many visits that will occur throughout the school year, and in this trip the students were assigned to paint the school. It was inspiring to see the students approach the task head-on and to be able to talk with them about their experience helping those less fortunate.
During this particular opportunity I was able to help with the painting, not only the overall base coat which the students did, but also helping a hired painter create pictures on the wall to add some visual stimulation to the school. It was an honor to be able to place a physical stamp on a physical location in Jordan, knowing that it would be there for a long time—or at least until they painted again. Throughout the whole process some Bedouin boys stood watching through the gate and eventually were invited in to help and observe.
Leaving a Spiritual Stamp
While the ABS students were taking a break, the other painter and I continued to add color to the walls. As I was painting, I heard some talking behind me and finally turned around to see all the Bedouin children along with all the ABS students and staff watching me paint. I couldn’t help but laugh. The Bedouin children shouted, "Very good! Very good!" which seemed to be the only thing they knew how to say in English. I again couldn’t help but laugh.
I smiled as I realized that it wasn’t just a physical stamp we were leaving there but a spiritual one as well. Simply by helping paint a wall all of the children and staff were laughing and interacting, whether it was a poor Bedouin boy with a staff member or a wealthy ABS student with a poor child. They were learning about each other and unknowingly exchanging examples either through hard work or through the humility of poverty.
Just this one experience has inspired all of us involved in one way or another. Inspiration can span a time of one morning of painting or 25 years through the example of Abdel Razzaq Najjar. I only hope that we can take our experiences and his example here in Jordan and put them into action throughout the rest of our lives. UN
Read more about the United Youth Corps volunteers’ experience in Jordan by visiting their blog at www.uycjordan10.blogspot.com.