Goodbye from the Summer 2013 Interns

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Home Away From Home

FadiBy: Fadi Saleh (’13)
Major: Computer Information Systems
Minor: Business Administration
Internship: Catholic Charities Diocese of Youngstown (Ohio)

You can actually find “Home away from Home,” the words of Yara AlAdili, one of the interns of Bethlehem University, describing her experience of living with her host family in Northeast Kansas while interning for Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas.

These words touched the hearts of the 10 interns who came to visit the US six weeks ago; these words carry countless memories and experiences that each one of us went through and will cherish and keep for the rest of his/her life.

Preparing now to leave the US, deep in our hearts we know that we are different people from the people who arrived here 42 days ago. In each of these days we came to learn something new, got to know and understand the diverse people of the US, and we also got know ourselves more in a journey of self-exploration and expression. In that journey we had the chance to tell our stories, share our struggle and joy in life, and open a window that enabled the rays of truth to cut through the dust of lies that sadly surround the people of the US.

As I am writing this blog, memories rush into my mind and emotions rush into my heart while I fight the urge of writing a personalized blog about my personal experience, but I want this last blog to be a blog in the name of the 10 interns, the 10 stars who traveled over seas and continents to come to the US. Or as many will call us the 10 “Ambassadors,” we were and are and will always be proud ambassadors of Bethlehem University, and we will absolutely continue to spread love, peace and happiness wherever we go, ambassadors of a just cause that we will carry until the whole world acknowledges our right to live in dignity and freedom.

At the beginning of this internship each one of us came to the US along with nine friends; now we are leaving the US with nine brothers and sisters, with newly met people who we can comfortably call “Family” in the US, and with lots and lots of friends who will stay that way until the end of time.

Finally, there are no words to describe how thankful and grateful the 10 of us are to Bethlehem University (Administration and Staff), Catholic Charities, anyone who made this internship possible, and finally, the people of The United States of America, who guided us to find the Home away from home.

Interns

Student interns receive certificates of participation from Catholic Charities USA

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Memories are Timeless Treasures of the Heart

ChristinaBy: Christina Juejaat (’13)
Major: Accounting
Minor: Business Administration
Internship: Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona (Tucson)

Hey, it’s me again! :) I last wrote in the beginning of my journey and shared my anticipation of the upcoming occurrences. I was excited, full of eagerness, but I also was clueless. I am thankful that reality surpassed my expectations by masses.

Christina with co-workers

Christina with co-workers from Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona

My internship program started with an introductory tour of the different agencies that operate under Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona (CCS). I was impressed with the assistance and aid they give to those in need, and I was happy to be a helping part of such a charitable entity. My scope of work started with Margaret Orr, the CFO, who introduced me to Microsoft Dynamics SL (the accounting program used by CCS), and to the various activities performed by the Accounting department.

Reaching the end of their fiscal year gave me an advantage to be exposed to numerous real-life procedures of accounting. Through this six-week period, I’ve been working on deposits and bank transfers, accrual account receivables, debit and credit memorandums, accounts payable, bank reconciliation, and their grants project, as well as participating in their annual audit meeting. The four years of hard work at Bethlehem University was highly appreciated when my knowledge was put into action.

With the presence of an incredible staff around me; Marguerite Harmon, CEO; Margaret Orr, CFO; and the beautiful ladies of the business office, who were very generous with love and knowledge; I have had a great internship experience and I gained skills of a full accounting cycle.

Christina Disneyland

Christina enjoys Disneyland

Well, I am only done sharing about my work experience and now it’s time for WEEKENDS. My host family arranged a variety of activities for my weekends. I wasn’t lucky to be with my host family, Chris and Peg Harmon; I was Blessed. From the first weekend I got to go to Los Angeles and most importantly to Disneyland. A childhood fantasy came to life; I unashamedly admit I was there from opening until close, 14 hours of absolute fun! We spent the next morning relaxing on the Pacific Ocean at Santa Monica beach, and in the afternoon I got to see my family members in California I haven’t seen in two years. Now, you can’t go to LA without going to Hollywood, so that’s what we did the following day; I got to see the glamorous Hollywood, and I even found my own “star” (a celebrity also named Christina) on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Christina Grand Canyon

Christina enjoys the Grand Canyon with her host family, Chris and Peg Harmon

The second weekend was very educational and interesting. First, I went to Arizona Sonora Desert Museum and learned more about the nature-life of Arizona and also visited several missions. Afterward, I went to the U.S. border with Mexico. A Reality-Check; here a metallic fence separates two countries, while back home in Palestine a high concrete wall is continuing to be built and separate families.

My charming host family planned to provide me with the utmost experience. Accordingly, Chris and Peg Harmon decided to share with me a place that’s their personal favorite, and now it’s mine too. The Grand Canyon, where nature resides at its finest: the way the sun comes up and shades the canyon with colors is simply majestic beauty.

Christina birthday

Christina celebrates her birthday at Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona

Being in the States has given me a chance to experience new things that aren’t available, that aren’t options for youth in Palestine. A simple example: I saw my first 3D movie and attended my first rock concert here. It opened up my eyes and gave me a taste of freedom that I’m taking back home. In the same time, it enabled me to act as an ambassador for Palestine – reflecting the Palestinian culture, our lives, and the constraints and limitations we suffer from.

Words can’t describe the gratefulness in my heart as my internship is coming to an end. I was fortunate to be a part of the Sir John McGuckin Mentoring and Internship Program, and my gratitude goes to all the efforts that made it possible. Yesterday I celebrated my birthday in the United States of America, and I received a precious gift of love and memories – the wonderful family I made here at CCS gathered to sing me Happy Birthday. These timeless memories are the treasures of my heart.

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My Dream Came True

John BaderBy: John Bader (’13)
Major: Accounting
Minor: Business Administration
Internship: Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago

John, Kathy, and Msgr. Boland

Bethlehem University intern John Bader with his supervisor, Mrs. Kathy Donahue (left), and Msgr. Michael M. Boland (right), President and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago

The United States is the dream of all Palestinian youth; when I first had the chance to go to the USA I didn’t hesitate for a second. This opportunity is very important to me to get to know different types of people, to learn different things about them. I learned a lot about the US, and I was able to visit many of the historical places and monuments in Washington DC, New York, and Illinois. At the beginning, we spent a few days in Washington DC, where we met a lot of people from Catholic Charities USA. During that first week of orientation, I really enjoyed visiting the Lincoln Memorial; Mount Vernon, George Washington’s house; and the White House. Those places are amazing, and I was very happy to see how Americans maintain and look after their historical places. After that, I flew to Illinois where I have had the wonderful opportunity to do my internship and stay with my wonderful host family.

John at Bishop Conway Residence

John at the Bishop Conway Residence for seniors

My experience has been amazing at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago. I have enjoyed every day there, and I have learned a lot from my supervisor, Ms. Kathy Donahue, who is the Senior Vice President of Program Development and Evaluation. She has shown me a lot of their projects and explained how these projects help the community. I feel that I have learned a lot from this short period of time at Catholic Charities. Personally I became more independent, I was able to understand the jobs that I was asked to do, and I was able to accomplish these tasks. I also met people from a lot of different cultures and was introduced to different ideas and traditions.

In addition, I visited some of the Catholic Charities institutes in Chicago, to learn more about them and their role in the local society: Ozanam Village, which is low-income senior housing, financed by the U.S. government and sponsored by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago; Bishop Conway Residence, which is affordable senior housing that has staff 24 hours a day, licensed nurses, and transportation assistance; and the Cordi-Marian Child Development Center, a day care center for children from 2-13 years old that provides education and develops physical and social abilities.

John child

John works with a child of refugees from Africa, while her parents attend the Refugees Job Club run by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago

Moreover, I met some students from Mexico who they were doing community service in Chicago, and they talked about problems related to poor people in Chicago and the services they provided to help these people.

It was an honor to meet Msgr. Michael M. Boland, the Administrator, President, and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago. He is a wonderful person, and he was very happy to get to know me, especially when he learned I am from Bethlehem. I did my best to show him that I was a very dedicated student, and that I want to learn everything I can in my internship while I am here.

John sightseeing

John sightseeing in downtown Chicago

I am fortunate that my host family in Chicago is actually my real family! I have been living with my cousin and his family, who live about an hour away from Chicago. It has been nice living with them, because I haven’t seen them for about five years. They took me for on a tour in Chicago and showed me places such as Navy Pier, Sears Tower, Buckingham Fountain and many more. I have spent a lovely time with them, and I really appreciate everything they have done for me.

People from a variety of nationalities work at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago. I have met a lot of people there from different countries, and I have learned a lot about the Hispanic population in the United States. My coworkers at Catholic Charities seem very interested to hear about Palestine, and it was nice to tell them about my homeland since there is a lot of confusion here in the states about Palestinians and the way we live. I had some conversations with my colleagues at Catholic Charities and some of my relatives here in the U.S. about my University, providing them with some information about Bethlehem University and encouraging them to visit both Bethlehem city and Bethlehem University.

I am very thankful that I have had the opportunity to visit the United States, and meet a lot of people and learn about their different cultures, in addition to the American culture itself. Moreover, I have been grateful to gain some experience that will help me a lot in building my career. A huge thank you goes to Bethlehem University, Catholic Charities USA, and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago for the opportunity to participate in the Sir John McGuckin Mentoring and Internship Program, which has been a wonderful experience that I will never forget!

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“Peace Begins with a Smile.” -Mother Teresa

MirnaBy: Mirna Nassar (’14)
Major: Accounting
Minor: Business Administration
Internship: Catholic Charities of Des Moines, Iowa

When I was accepted for the Sir John McGuckin Mentoring and Internship Program, I was excited and concerned at the same time: excited because it is totally new experience and interning at Catholic Charities of Des Moines, and concerned because I was chosen to have my internship in Iowa, which I had never heard of. I went on the internet and searched for Iowa, and what I found was only farming and balloons! But I was wrong – Iowa is best known for more than just farming; it is the “food basket for the world,” and it’s famous for its fabulous art museum and opera. YES, opera, and it’s near the corn fields! Also, I was surprised that we have some similarities regarding behaviors and friendliness; Iowans are really social people too, like us. What surprised me is that there are lots of refugees from different regions of the world. And from here my lovely, emotional story starts with Iowa and the Catholic Charities and its refugees in Des Moines.

I work with the Refugee Resettlement Program; I help translating English to Arabic and vice versa, doing paperwork, and guiding the refugees how to use the bus station and navigate its map. This program is all about survival. One gentleman refugee from Iraq came here with his family; he cannot speak English, but he needs to work. He will accept any work he can get, even with low wages, so he can survive, help raise his children, and help his family live in this global and expensive world. I think he needs to be hopeful, and Catholic Charities helps in lighting his way.

Mirna at work

"Experience alone can decide on truth." -Albert Einstein

Also, I have been able to learn from different types of staff meetings, such as the financial team and development staff, through which I gained a lot of information and ideas about how non-profit organizations develop themselves and how they raise funds to support their charities.

I also volunteered at St. Mary’s Family Center, which provides food and clothes for poor and low-income people. I helped sort the clothes and put food on the shelves. I believe that donating one thing you have to places like St. Mary’s is like giving them a blessed life. I also visited St. Joseph Emergency Family Shelter, where families can go when they have no place to stay. It provides resources to lift families out of poverty, and they treat each family there with dignity and respect.

I had the chance to share my Bethlehem University with the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, the staff at Catholic Charities of Des Moines, and to other people who are interested to know more about the internship program and about Bethlehem University. I am glad that I had the opportunity to tell people about my country, and help them see the right image of Palestine and the peaceful, friendly relationship between Muslims and Christians that is built on respect; we are blessed to be together.

I am blessed to have a wonderful host mother, Ms. Jeanne Wells, who takes care of me as if I am her daughter, and to have a very kind supervisor, Ms. Nancy Galeazzi, and a very respectful staff at Catholic Charities. I met Iowa’s Governor, Terry Branstad, and toured the exquisite capitol. I attended the Des Moines Metro Opera’s performance of “Peter Grimes,” visited the Blank Park Zoo, and the most important things I have gone to are all the different restaurants … Chinese, Mexican, Italian, and American food! And too many other fun and interesting places to mention.

Mirna enjoys the sites in Des Moines

"The wise learn from the experience of others, and the creative know how to make a crumb of experience go a long way." -Eric Hoffer

Today is my fifth week interning at Catholic Charities of Des Moines, and more knowledge and experiences are knocking at my door. Thank you to Bethlehem University and Catholic Charities USA, for giving me and the other nine interns, who are located in different states in the USA, such a wonderful opportunity to learn more about their non-profit organization and for having the chance to share with others more about Palestine and Bethlehem University. Moreover, I would like to thank my teachers who helped me prepare for this experience, and for all the donors who had helped sponsor this internship.

The thing that I will not forget for the entire of my life is when I met a little boy at St. Joseph Emergency Family Shelter who grabbed my hand to play with me. At that moment I had mixed emotions: sad because he doesn’t have his own home and happy because he found a shelter like St. Joseph to protect him. We smiled at each other, and as Mother Teresa said: “Peace begins with a smile.”

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Experiencing the Country Life in America! A Wonderful Vacation

DimaBy: Dima Al Mukarker (’14)
Major: Accounting
Minor: Business Administration
Internship: Coastal Environmental Systems (Seattle)

Host family

Dima with her host family, the Maguires

From the moment I set foot in the Seattle Airport in Washington, I felt my love for this state, which is incredibly green. And if it is not green, then it’s blue. I was really shocked by its beauty. Back in Palestine, my home town, Beit Jala, used to be green, but its beauty is decreasing each year – due to the expansion of Israeli settlements and cutting the trees to build the Wall, and the expansion as Palestinians are forced to expand within a smaller area. So I was glad to see the beauty in Washington.

Definitely my second week in the United States was the best for exploring nature. My sweet host family, Mrs. Angela and Mr. Tim Maguire and their children, took me camping in an RV. Yes, an RV! At the beginning I was really shocked as all of us watched the movie “RV” starring Robin Williams. I was excited to be a part of this adventure, as RV camping is not part of our culture as it is in the American culture. I really enjoyed the week, as we were able to do some hiking along the river and in the woods. The best was movie time; before sleeping we ate popcorn while we watched a movie together.

Hiking

Dima enjoys camping in an RV with her host family and family friends

At the end of the week we went to hike Mount St. Helens, the volcano that erupted on May 18, 1980, causing great damage to the woods and towns for more than 200 miles surrounding it. Even now, you can see the dramatic damage to all the trees and creatures living in the woods, but also you can see the greatness of God in the beautiful way that Mother Nature is starting to revive itself. Words can’t express what I felt when I stood up on that mountain looking at the beauty of Gods’ creation, as I was looking down to Spirit Lake, which used to melt anything that entered it after the eruption in 1980. I can’t express how happy I was to find Rocky Falls as hiked down the Mountains. I played with my host family in the cold water, explored the area, drank some fresh water, took photos, and we drove back to our camp. The next day we left the camp to enjoy the relaxing weekend, celebrating the Holy Mass together as a family.

Dima and Amanda

Dima and her supervisor, Amanda Lambert, at work

As the relaxing week ended, it was time for hard working. So I woke up at 5:30 a.m. to take the train to Seattle to do my internship in a company called Coastal Environmental Systems. Because Accounting is my major, I settled in the accounting department, and I have been comparing what I have learned in classes these past three years with the field work activities in my internship. I am really blessed with my supervisor, Amanda, as she explains to me why we do this or that when I am curious to learn more and I begin asking questions. And it is easier to do our internship here and is more beneficial to us because we study from American text books in our classes at Bethlehem University.

Horse riding

Dima's first time riding a horse

Of course, the weekends are the best time for relaxing and doing activities with my beloved host family, Mr. and Mrs. Maguire and their children. The thing I like most about them is that they are similar to my family with their concern of raising their children on faith of God’s love and forgiveness on one hand, and on the other hand how to be good children, active and polite. I also enjoyed the company of Cynniya Maguire as she took me with her to ride horses. She is a great champion, competing in regional and national horse shows. I was really pleased to ride horses for the first time. I like how I became part of this wonderful family, and how they introduced me to some of their friends, who became my friends too, like Janell, the wonderful woman who took me to Seattle for a day, to help me experience the tourism side of this wonderful and historic city.

I would really like to thank my beloved host family for making my internship the best experience ever, and all the friends who I met in this wonderful place. And of course my fascinating University, Bethlehem University, and Catholic Charities USA, for making this experience possible for us and for all the other people who have been part of this entire project.

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“Peacemaker,” the Bridge Between Palestine and the US

BahaaBy: Bahaa Nairoukh (’13)
Major: Accounting
Minor: Business Administration
Internship: Catholic Charities of the Diocese of La Crosse (Wisconsin)

Being in the USA is something I have always dreamed about; no question that this opportunity is the best experience I’ve had in my life. I am very thankful to Bethlehem University, which I am very proud to have graduated from, and to Catholic Charities; both organizations have made this opportunity come true for me and nine lovely friends from my University.

The first week in the US was in Washington DC and New York City. We had the chance to watch a baseball game with the Washington Nationals baseball team. That was just great – we even cheered in Arabic in the stadium! That brought big attention in the stadium, and they put us on the stadium’s big screen, which was awesome! We also spent the 4th of July in the nation’s capital: went to George Washington’s house, Mount Vernon, where we toured many museums and gardens, and learned about his life and America’s past. We also went to the Lincoln Memorial, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, and the White House. Beside that, we went to New York for a day! We went to the United Nations and were able to meet with international leaders. We also saw Wall Street, Times Square, and the Statue of Liberty.

On the 5th of July I reached my internship placement in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and Deacon Richard Sage and his wife were waiting for me at the airport. From the very first night, I was introduced to “The Cheese State” when Deacon Richard hosted dinner, bringing me several kinds of cheese; I have never seen this many cheese flavors and kinds!

The following Monday, I started working at Catholic Charities, Diocese of La Crosse. My position is to shadow Deacon Richard, the Executive Director of the agency, who helps me learn the Catholic Charities work better and faster. On the second day, Deacon Richard brought me to Wausau to move the new winter warming center for the homeless to a new better place. We stayed overnight to check out the place and the repairs needed, and to prepare for the next day’s meeting with the Wausau City Council in order to obtain the permission to operate the warming center. That was just an extraordinary example of democracy. Everyone was able to express his opinion, and then the City Council voted and finally we got the permission. But what I was fascinated with was the democratic process throughout the meeting. For a moment I thought about standing up and stating my opinion in Arabic, though nobody would understand what I was saying, just that I am enjoying American freedom and democracy!

Back to my office in La Crosse, I’ve been working with the accounting department doing daily deposits. I also helped Deacon Richard form the business plan for the new warming center in Wausau, which will be used to raise money for the center. I’m very proud for what I did with the plan.

Besides that, I’ve been in the immigration department with the Immigration Case Manager, Emily Rose, where I participated in interviews with Hispanics and a French family. Moreover, I’ve been in a wide range of other departments, such as Adoption, IT, and Utility and Rent Assistance. On another day, I went to Eau Claire and spent the whole day with the Catholic Charities Sojourner House homeless shelter, and participated in the daily intake process and saw how homeless people access the shelter.

Peacemaking.

I’ve had several occasions to give presentations about life in Palestine: the political situation; personal encounters; Palestinians’ spirit of life and hope; the abundant social life and community; and for sure about Bethlehem University, the campus life there and the hope that it offers to the young people of Palestine. I have spoken at A Place of Grace Catholic Worker House in La Crosse, and I gave a presentation at the Catholic Charities all-staff meeting on cultural competency, again describing life in Palestine and my experiences at Bethlehem University. I spoke at Viterbo University, a Catholic university, to a master’s class in servant leadership. At the end of the class they gave me the title of “Peacemaker” – the bridge between Palestine and the US. I also had the chance to meet Dr. Richard Artman, President of Viterbo University.

What I love here is having Mrs. Jan and Mr. Ralph Lewis, my really generous host family, who make me feel just like home. I met some new friends and have enjoyed doing some things with them such as going to the fancy car show, walking along the riverside, seeing the international gardens, exploring the marsh, and running inside the Hixon Forest – awesome! seeing deer – and going to the top of Grandad Bluff, the highest overlook along the Mississippi River. My biggest stay was at Noah’s Ark Waterpark at Wisconsin Dells – the largest waterpark in the world! Yeah!

This has already been a great experience. I know it will be one that I’ll not only remember, but also it will help me in my future life!

Wisconsin

Bahaa enjoys the sights and events around Wisconsin

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Helping Those in Need See Beauty for the First Time

YaraBy: Yara Al Adili (’14)
Major: Business Administration
Minor: Marketing
Internship: Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas (Overland Park)

Yara with Jan and Ralph Lewis

Yara with her host parents, Jan and Ralph Lewis

After a very busy but interesting orientation week, I was so grateful to find out that my host family, Jan and Ralph Lewis, understand the importance – or just the extensive need – of sleep for young people. They let me sleep in on my first weekend and just hang around the house and relax, which was exactly what I needed.

Monday, the 8th of July, was my first day as an intern at Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas. I got to meet many new people who were very kind and welcoming. During my first week, I was still new to the environment and didn’t completely grasp what was taking place in the different departments. So my supervisor made some shadowing opportunities available for me, where I got to see firsthand what the various departments and people in different positions were doing. The most interesting thing I attended was a meeting with a potential advertising agency. It was so interesting because I got to see what a 15-week course back at school is all about in real life.

Yara with Grandpa Jack

Yara with Grandpa Jack and "The wind spirit"

As for my next weekend, my new family and I went on a road trip to Nebraska to visit family members. I got to meet Grandpa Jack, who has the most amazing collection of Native American art. He gave me a very lovely souvenir named “The wind spirit,” which I can’t wait to take home and hang in my room. Grandma Jeanne and I went through family photo albums while she told me a couple of family stories. I also got to go to “Zesto,” which is the ice cream place my host mom had a summer job at back when she was in high school. It is in business only during the summer, so we had to stand in a really long line so I could taste the best dipped cone I have ever had.

And after that pleasant and relaxing weekend, I had a very busy second week at work!

Resource Bus

The Resource Bus of Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas

On Monday, the 15th of July, I went on the Catholic Charities Resource Bus to Atchison, situated along the Missouri River. The Resource Bus travels to places where assistance and resources aren’t available to needy people. It is, in fact, an office on wheels. The emergency assistance case manager meets with needy people on the bus and provides possible assistance as needed. It also provides clothing and food to these people. Seeing different cases has got to me, as I never thought about the poor in America before!

Yara at the Market

Yara works at the market, "New Roots for Refugees"

On Tuesday, the 16th of July, I went to the office that works with refugees. I spent my first hours of the day at the community market that was taking place. “New Roots for Refugees” of Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas creates opportunities for refugees to plant their produce in certain areas, and then helps to set up markets where the refugees can sell their fresh fruits and vegetables, so they can earn money for themselves. Moreover, I got to talk to a couple of refugees who told me quite sad stories about their lives back in their home countries and what made them decide to seek refuge in the US. I also was introduced to the process of the reception and placement of refugees, which was very interesting to learn about!

Yara at the Market

Yara works at the market, "New Roots for Refugees"

On Wednesday, the 17th of July, I was introduced to the warehouse that has donated household furniture and appliances that are used in setting up houses for the refugees. After I had been there for a while, I realized that I was supposed to stay and help arrange things so they’re reached easily when they’re setting up new houses! In my head, I was thinking, “oh no, there is no way I am moving heavy furniture around all day long!” But then a group of 12-13-year-old girls from a summer camp came to help. They were excited because they are able to do something of value! And I opened my heart, in the Heart of America – Kansas City – and started to help, thinking about the opportunity that I have to “help them see beauty in the world, for probably the first time!”

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Donuts Taste Different After You Bite In.

FadiBy: Fadi Saleh (’13)
Major: Computer Information Systems
Minor: Business Administration
Internship: Catholic Charities Diocese of Youngstown (Ohio)

When you look at a donut sitting there on the shelf, you perceive its shape, its description, its price and condition. However, you will never know how it really tastes until you have your first bite.

Fadi at baseball game

Fadi enjoys another baseball game in the US

That is the United States of America for us; we keep hearing about it on TV, seeing it in movies and reading about it in the newspapers. Nevertheless, we never know the real US until our feet touch its soil. So for me, watching Spider-Man swinging between the skyscrapers and listening to some political spokesperson condemning terrorism along with Frank Sinatra’s iconic voice singing about New York was how I saw that piece of donut, and finally I got a bite of that donut, and it tastes … well, it tastes different.

I am now in the Unites States of America after a dramatic trip from Palestine right after my graduation day from my beloved Bethlehem University. And Yes! “different” is the best way to describe the US , with a huge diversity of people from all over the world gathering here in this land of dreams , each with his own aspirations and burdens , gathered in a weird yet successful way under a flag with 50 stars.

Catholic Charities Youngstown

Fadi with colleagues at Catholic Charities Diocese of Youngstown

And No! they are not aliens as many view them; I mean, people here are just like us, they are as human as a human can get. They are sensitive, stubborn, kind, fragile, happy, sad, crying, laughing, celebrating, chanting, and yes, working, a lot of work is done here. Each one of them is on his/her trip of searching for his/her own identity and role in life; some do reach those, and others get lost along the way.

Fadi with students

Fadi speaks with high school students in Parma, Ohio

So if I am to put into words my experiences in the States during the past crazy two weeks, I would say: met the fellowship of the ring, great 10 partners; long trip; plane delayed, to the train instead; DC; great, friendly people; House and Senate; a great hotel; a cool roommate; no sleep; Food!, a lot of food; the White House; people speaking about us and for us; baseball; NEW YORK!; skyscraper; Times Square; shopping and more shopping; Metro; movies; Lincoln; 4th of July; Washington; missed the fireworks; sad good-bye; Hello!, new people; very nice people; poor city; time to work; Board meetings; Ramadan in the States!; food again; different kinds of food; fake Facebook account; homesick; hopeful; built a rain water tank in a homeless shelter; speaking about BU and Palestine; jazz festival; and finally, living in the US for another couple of weeks!

And oh yes, that éclair donut from Dunkin’ Donuts tasted so good last night!

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From a “Beacon of Hope,” We’re Bright!

HussamBy: Hussam Al-Joulani (’13)
Major: Accounting
Minor: Business Administration
Internship: Georgetown University Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (Washington DC)

Hussam graduation

Hussam Al-Joulani (center) celebrates at his commencement ceremony on 28 June 2013.

One of the dreams that I have always wanted to come true is to visit the United States after I graduated from Bethlehem University. I just graduated on June 28, 2013 with major in Accounting and minor in Business Administration. When I started my fourth year at the University, I was nervous and worried about my chance of getting a job in Palestine, because the unemployment rate can be as high as 50 percent in some places, with many qualified graduates at home without a job. So, because of that, I started to look for opportunities that could get me to the stage of being well-prepared for my first step into the business world.

Hussam with Ambassador

Bethlehem University interns Bahaa Nairoukh (left) and Hussam Al-Joulani (right) meet with H.E. Dr. Riyad Mansour (center), Ambassador of the Palestinian Mission to the UN.

This opportunity has been finally been found in the Land of Opportunities. The land where you can get a lot of experience that would benefit me and then benefit my people in Palestine. The opportunity that is given to me now, called the McGuckin Mentoring and Internship Program. My internship is taking place now at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, specifically in the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS). My internship is concentrated in the field of Budgeting and Development, as this Center has researchers and projects that need to be funded. This internship will add extra value to my CV because it is something that is related to my degree, especially when it comes for me to apply for a job at any NGOs. The first day of my internship made me start thinking of how I could handle a certain project and observe all its sectors in order to get this project accomplished. My visit to the United States made me feel more than welcome, and it was easy to get along with the people here. I believe that Bethlehem University and Georgetown University have both given me the boost to go upon this experience and to build the bridge of hope that could help us as Palestinians to share our stories and look for ways that could bring peace to our state.

Interning at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies has shown me that there are a lot of foreign students who would love to learn Arabic and take Arabic courses. Not only do they want to learn the language, they also love the Arab culture and they are happy to represent the Arab values and norms here in the States or back in their home countries.

The most interesting part of my internship is that Dr. Rochelle Davis, who I’m interning for at CCAS, has asked me to work on a project that could make the partnership between Bethlehem University and Georgetown University even stronger than it is now. I will be writing proposals and fundraising in order to make this happen. This opportunity has given me a chance to do something for Bethlehem University, and to make it a better place for others to learn and gain valuable experiences from the Holy Land.

I would like to thank Bethlehem University, with its entire staff in Bethlehem and in Washington, DC, for giving me this life opportunity. A special thanks to Dr. Jack DeGioia, President of Georgetown University, Dr. Osama Abi-Mershed, Director of CCAS, and Dr. Rochelle Davis for hosting me at Georgetown University. And to the donors who have been supporting Bethlehem University and its students all these years, you have been drawing hope in our lives, and without your support I wouldn’t be here in Washington.

I would like also to say that one of my dreams is to contribute someday to support Bethlehem University, the “Beacon of Hope.” Because of the University and this opportunity, I see myself with a bright future.

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Student of Life: Diving into a Mystery Entitled “America”

TinaBy: Christina Juejaat (’13)
Major: Accounting
Minor: Business Administration
Internship: Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona (Tucson)

America conceived with Liberty as it is, represents aspects that lots of Palestinians admire. For me, becoming a graduate of Bethlehem University only means I am transferring to become a student of life, and the learning journey starts with America.

Students with Ambassador Areikat

Ambassador Maen Areikat of the PLO Delegation to the United States meets with Bethlehem University student interns, as well as Rev. Larry Snyder, President of Catholic Charities USA; Kathy Brown, Sr. Director of Mission and Catholic Identity at Catholic Charities USA; and Brother Jack Curran, Vice President for Development at Bethlehem University.

Reaching America wasn’t an easy process, but since the moment we got there, we’ve been in action to discover and learn more in the narrow time we have. Located in Washington, DC for the first week, we acquired the opportunity to meet influential characters that lightened our path, among those Ambassador Maen Areikat from the PLO Delegation to the United States. After spending time discussing the Palestinian and Arab situation here in America, he cast among us the torch of light and power to spread the knowledge through Bethlehem University’s opportunity of interning in the US.

Christina at White House

Christina at the White House

From there, we had the chance to tour the Washington National Mall monuments, such as the Lincoln Memorial, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and of course the White House! We documented the journey with tons of pictures.

The 4th of July, America’s National celebration day! We started our day with a visit to Mount Vernon, George Washington’s estate, museum and gardens. From an elegantly designed mansion and grounds to its innovative farm site, to the extremely delighting view of the Potomac River. Because it was the 4th of July it was accompanied with strokes of fireworks, truly an American cultural experience! But what is the 4th of July without the traditional BBQ? It was deliciously American.

Christina with host family

Christina with her host family, Peg and Chris Harmon, and their friends in Tucson, Arizona

The next day, I transferred to my internship location, to Tucson, Arizona, the place I will reside through the five coming weeks. I need to adjust to two things: first the time difference, and secondly the heat! With greeting arms, I was received from the very first moment at the airport by my hosts Peg and Chris Harmon, and since then I have felt nothing but welcomed and cherished.

Ahead awaits an adventure and great time to be spent! A feeling of excitement of what is yet to come is overwhelming. Today is the first day of my internship, and the process of learning continues both culturally and personally, to educate me as an upcoming accountant and as a student of life.

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No Sleep to Live the American Dream

NagibBy: Nagib Kasbary (’13)
Major: Business Administration
Minor: Marketing
Internship: Catholic Charities of California (Sacramento)

Happy 4th of July! Today we will be celebrating the holiday in Washington, DC.

2013 graduate

Nagib Kasbary, Bethlehem University Class of 2013!

Friday, the 29th of June was my graduation day, one of the best days of my life; as a great journey has ended, another one was about to start. Bethlehem University has given me the opportunity to travel to the USA for my internship – something that can open new doors for me and help me apply what I have learned in my textbooks into real life.

We had to begin our travel the night of our graduation ceremony. It wasn’t an easy process, as we finished our graduation party late at night and had to cross the borders to Jordan hours later, to catch our flight. We are not allowed to travel into Israel to fly through Tel Aviv, which is only an hour away; instead, we have to travel for hours on to Amman, Jordan, including hours spent in the hot sun going through both Israeli and Jordanian checks. The next two days were spent traveling through airports. It was hard to sleep, because I was so excited from my graduation and anticipating my arrival in the USA within a few hours. I promised myself as soon as we get to the hotel I would get some rest, but I have never been more mistaken!

Yara, Nagib, and Fadi

Bethlehem University interns Yara, Nagib, and Fadi at Catholic Charities USA

When we arrived in Washington, DC, I put down my bags right away and started exploring the area. The first thing I noticed is that people are friendly and helpful. It is something I have heard about Americans before coming to the USA, and I felt at home right away.

The next day we went to Catholic Charities USA’s office, the organization that is bringing us to the USA. We felt like movie stars, as everyone there wanted to hear our stories and hopes and dreams about the future. In the same day, they took us to a baseball game. It was our first cultural experience in the USA. I was cheering and chanting the whole time as if I was a longtime fan and this wasn’t my first game that I watched. In the game we had our one minute of fame as they put our image on the big screen, which was a huge thing, as from what I have learned it’s not easy to get on it.

Interns with UN Ambassadors

Bethlehem University student interns meet in New York City with His Excellency Dr. Riyad Mansour, Ambassador, Palestinian Mission to the UN; and Mr. Joseph Cornelius Donnelly, Permanent Delegate to the UN, CARITAS Internationalis.

The second day we took the train to New York, the city that never sleeps. There we met officials from the UN, and we talked about the Palestinian conflict and what can be done to end the occupation in Palestine. After that, we went sightseeing and saw the Statue of Liberty and Times Square. The events of that day and the fact that I visited a city I always wanted to see kept me awake on the train ride back to Washington, DC.

I have spent a few days in the US, and I still have 6 weeks left to do my internship. I don’t know what to expect anymore, but what I do know is that when I go back to Palestine I have a lot of resting to do!

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