Jamilah’s Blog: Transformation for Peace Bahá’í School

The Transformation for Peace summer school was held on the campus of the Bahá’í-inspired Townshend International School.

Recently my older brother, Iman, and I went to a Bahá’í summer school for a week where we learned new things, made new friends, and created new memories. My family and I drove from Austria (where we were on vacation) to Townshend International School in the Czech Republic. When we arrived at the camp area, we registered and a few animators [mentors] took our phones. The fact that they did this made the camp much better, because it taught us detachment and that we can have fun even without social media in our everyday lives.

After getting to know people on the first night, we woke up early the next day at around 7:00 a.m. That day and for the rest of the week, we would change and go to a little gathering area in the woods called Sacred Spot. We would go there to say prayers, sing songs, and listen to beautiful stories by our animators. Then we’d go back with our friends and have breakfast.

After breakfast, we would head to the meeting room and an assembly would organize the devotionals for the morning. There were about seven assemblies, each one made of about eight junior youth and two or three animators. Every morning we would play a game, learn a song, say prayers, and receive “roses.” Roses were little slips of paper on which the youth and junior youth would anonymously write something sweet to each other. After the morning devotionals, we would have academic classes where we learned different aspects of the Bahá’í Faith. We did this in many forms, such as reading, playing games, creating plays, singing songs, etc.

 

Jamilah (third from left) made many friends at "camp," including (left-right): Quentin V., Kamran A., and Kalea V.


Throughout the day we also had a specific activity called Gala Arts. The junior youth could choose to be in any group: theater/filming, architecture, dance, or spoken words. My brother and I chose theater, where we did a play about detachment from material things and focusing more on spiritual things. We also had assemblies where we would meet up with our animators and other group members and we would play games, get to know each other, and discuss different virtues.

Every day we would also have an evening program, and every day it was different. On two nights, we did sports. On another night, we played a civilization game. Another night was called “Iran Night,” and it was a very emotional night for everyone at the camp. The youth prepared skits and acts about the history of the Bahá’í Faith that were very realistic. One of the acts was where the animators blindfolded us and [pretended to] thrust us on the floor, screaming brutal words about the Bahá’í Faith. This taught us how the Bábis felt at the time of Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb. They also [gently] chained us and put us in a tiny room as if we were in the Black Pit [prison in Iran]. It was all very emotional and sad, but I learned many things that night. It taught me that we should be grateful for the wonderful lives we have.

On other days, we went to an adrenaline park (a place where you can do thrilling, challenging activities) and a water park. At the adrenaline park, we got to choose between a rope course and a mini-golf course. My brother and I did the rope course because we love doing adventurous activities! At both parks, we had so much fun and we got to spend even more time with our friends. At the very end of every day, we would all be in a prayerful mood and we would say prayers and chant songs for around 30 minutes. The room would be dark and there would be candles in the middle of the room. We would also share reflections of the day and how we felt. This was one of my favorite moments of the day because everyone would be so peaceful and calm, and it was so relaxing and sweet.

On the last day, our parents came for Gala Night. There we performed our Gala Arts and what we learned in our academic classes. This went until about 10:30 p.m. Then all the junior youth danced their hearts out until midnight.

This was an absolutely spectacular experience that I will never forget. I learned so many new things at this camp. Thank you to all the animators and co-coordinators who made this camp absolutely fascinating. I’m going to miss you all!

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