Monday, June 20th, 2011
Good evening! Tonight, we have a literary adventure for you, a JDC first – our very first collaborative blog, brought to you by Marcie and Audrey!
Today, we suffered a great loss…..of boredom! Morning came, and we rose with the Lithuanian sun to the occasion. At this point, the JCC Youth room had been properly stripped down to it’s birthday suit of paint. Broken up into three committees – design, shelving, and the very elusive +general+ position – and continued our work from the day before.
Finally, after hours of drilling, painting, hammering, repainting, and hitting each other over the head with large wooden planks (by accident, generally), we were finished at last. Covered in paint (and minor injuries, for some of us), we left the community centre with a sense of accomplishment. At our final group discussion directly after, the question was asked, what now? We’d had a fantastic experience on our trip to the Baltics, but how do we take this experience home?
Many ideas were tossed around in what we called the “Big Brother” room, on account of its perpetual vacancy, but they all seemed to revolve around a central theme of applying our newly acquired skills of connecting to those around us, in our own communities. This experience has taught us how to use our own talents and strengths to enhance the quality of life of those less fortunate. We don’t need the excuse of a Hillel-JDC volunteer abroad program to help people in the Jewish community – it can, and has to, start in our own backyard.
With this, however, it is important to not only take away this newfound knowledge from the communities in both Riga and Vilnius, but to also give back. With the connections we made with our peers from their respective countries, our elderly visits, and working with children, we know that they cannot be lost in our memories. For every impactful experience they gave to us, we cannot forget their needs, not as a struggling Jewish community, but a surviving one, that needs the support of its international neighbours to persist.
This trip has certainly changed the way we see this part of the world, and brought us to understand our responsibility to the global Jewish community.
Thanks for reading, l’chaim and shalom!
The youth room before, during, and after painting: