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Day 1 November 2012 Panim el Panim

Posted on 11/12/2012 @ 11:51 AM

Read more about Panim el Panim through the eyes of a teen participant, Helyn Steppa, Beth Tfiloah Dahan Community Day School in Baltimore, MD.

I’m sitting in my hotel room reflecting on the day I’ve had.  It started for me when the Beth Tfiloh mini- bus arrived at the Hyatt.  We plopped our luggage in one room and gathered for our introductory meeting in another.  All the participants discussed identity and how that corresponds with the way we approach issues. This discussion confirmed by belief that people often forget that liberals and conservatives are just voicing different ways to solve the same problems.  Sometimes we get caught in the partisanship when we should be focusing on the situation, it’s not about winning, it’s about solving.

The pinnacle of the Panim experience for today was the “Faces of Homelessness” presentation given by speakers from National Coalition for the Homeless. We met two men who had overcome homelessness: one who came from a typical middle- class family and one who came from what he called the “Hood.” The first man said that he felt overconfident in his independence and capability to live with only a GED that he decided not to go to college. However, when he lost his job and his house burned down he was stuck in an unexpected predicament. The second man had a bit too much ego as a teenager as well but what he didn’t have was self- esteem and positive guidance. This led to a decades long addiction to drugs and alcohol causing him to lose jobs, cars and houses continuously. What I liked especially about the second speaker was that he encouraged us to know who we are and maintain our convictions even if that causes unpopularity.

Today was great and I think I’ve been reminded how important common humanity and kindness truly is. I’ve learned the power of the smile and outstretched hand.

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