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December PeP, Night One

Posted on 12/13/2010 @ 12:56 PM

Read more about Panim el Panim through the eyes of a teen participant, Leigh Goldstein, North Shore Hebrew Academy.

Our first few hours at the Panim el Panim seminar were emotional.

After getting settled at the hotel and refueling with dinner, we heard the stories of two formerly homeless gentleman. The first, John, educated us about homelessness and taught us about what we could do using CARE: Contribution, Advocating, Reaching Out, and Education. As he spoke, the second man sat behind him, observing the room underneath sunglasses, a hat, and a big winter coat. He almost looked as though he was still homeless. John introduced him as Donald. When he started to speak, he was speaking so low that the enture room was straining to hear him. He opened up about his tragic childhood growing up in an abusive household, though still somehow managing to succeed in school, even getting voted "Most Likely To Succeed” by his classmates.

At this point, we were all assuming that he would proceed to tell us how he did not live up to his title. However, as Donald continued his story, he began shedding layers, literally. First came off his winter jacket to reveal a button up shirt. Next, the jeans revealed suit pants. Each new piece of clothing that we saw represented a point he made in the story of his life: slowly climbing up and up. The final change came as Donald reached the point in his story when he was hired as the first formerly homeless Director of the National Coalition for the Homeless.

As he spoke, his voice rose in volume and he unbuttoned his shirt to reveal a suit jacket, shirt, and tie. He pulled off his winter hat and sunglasses, and in front of us stood Donald- fully transformed into who he is today. Every single person in the room burst into cheers as he shattered all of our previous stereotypes of what a homeless person is like. John and Donald explained to us the small things we can do to help homelessness. It was definitely an experience we will never forget.

This is the Place to Keep Up With Panim el Panim!

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Reflection on The Big EASY

Posted on 11/09/2010 @ 05:14 PM

Read more about The Big EASY through the eyes of a teen participant, Leah Marcone.

One thing i learned here in new Orleans is that it is not just about changing the world, and making a difference in the world. Changing one person's life or just making an impact for one person is just as valuable. The people living in the neighborhood we had our service in, were so grateful for our help. Although there are multiple organizations that are helping people who suffered from hurricane Katrina, the members of the neighborhood said they don't get much help in their neighborhood. To have 1400 people help neighborhoods throughout New Orleans, was amazing.

This is the Place to Keep Up With Panim el Panim!

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Inspiration in New Orleans

Posted on 11/09/2010 @ 12:24 PM

Read more about The Big EASY through the eyes of a teen participants Lauren Plavnick, Rachel Fried and Jackson Block.

This trip was honestly amazing. We made so many lifelong friends and learned a lot about the New Orleans environment. We stood up for what we believed in by doing community service, and really made an impact on the community by cleaning it up. Another inspiring thing we did, was to see Vice President Joe Biden speak about Israel. This really was a once in a lifetime opportunity and we are so grateful we got to be here and take everything in. This PANIM experience really gave us something to take back to our home towns and we are definitely going to do PANIM and other BBYO trips in the future!

This is the Place to Keep Up With Panim el Panim!

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Reflections on Service

Posted on 11/09/2010 @ 11:51 AM

Read more about The Big EASY through the eyes of a teen participant, Danielle Liberman, New Jersey.

Coming into this experience, I assumed the community service project at the General Assembly would be something like handing out food, or building houses. My expectations could not have been more wrong.

After a bus tour around the entire city, our small delegation met at the Ninth Ward, an area with one of the least recovery after Katrina. With the majority of the area being empty lots, our job was to clean the area up, brush out leaves, weeds, and plants. These plants have been growing for five years.  Incredibly no one has touched it since Katrina hit.

While initially walking down the street to start our mission, all that was seen is the weeds, the houses were no longer noticeable. Five members of our PANIN delegation worked with me to clean the weeds from the street to a fence, twenty feet from the street. To my astonishment, after fourty-five minutes the weeds were cut down, and a fence had become visible. I started to look around and I noticed a similar pattern for success.

A house that had been abandoned since Katrina, was now visible, the door was now accessable, and volunteers started to trickle into the house for the first time since the storm.  To my surprise among the rubbish artifacts were found. A statue, and CD disk were found, showing signs of life from the previous owners.

This was the best part of the entire experience, after working for three hours we were able to notice how we can change the world. After three hours a house is uncovered, sidewalks are cleared, and the neighborhood has been cleaned. As teen leaders, we see the big picture, and realize what needs to be done to improve the situation in New Orleans.

Read more about The Big EASY through the eyes of a teen participant, Aaronn Spiewak, New Jersey.

AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I had so much fun helping out and meeting new people. I felt great after the community we helped acknowledged and thanked us. We helped out clearing out what seemed like a forest so we they could build houses on that land.

This is the Place to Keep Up With Panim el Panim!

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Hello, Mr. Vice President!

Posted on 11/09/2010 @ 11:41 AM

Read more about The Big EASY through the eyes of a teen participant, Hal Z, Washington, DC.

On the first day we all gathered in a room about the size of a football field. There were cameras everywhere, traditional music blasting, and the warmth of Judaic pride radiating through the air. We were not sure who was about to speak, but before we knew it, he came out. Who was this person? We could not believe it. He was the Vice-President of the United States of America.

I have never heard such an affirming speech declaring the positions of the United States towards our home land of Israel. What an opportunity!  The feeling of vindication; the power and might of our great country to protect another great country. What a delightful experience. Thank you Panim BBYO!

This is the Place to Keep Up With Panim el Panim!

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