All Family Beach Bonfire

By: Jordan Derbas, Oceanside, CA – July 13, 2018

The Hands of Peace program is back in session for 2018! After the second day of dialogue and getting to know each other a little better, the participants needed some time to relax. This Friday evening, the participants, along with the staff and host family members, met together at the Oceanside Beach to enjoy a wonderful bonfire.
The evening was filled with food, games, music, and of course… s’mores! The participants spent time playing volleyball, frisbee, and walking on the sand. By the end of the night, everyone gathered around the bonfire as the XLs led the Hands in singing the Hands of Peace song, in addition to other songs that are familiar to the Hands of Peace family.

“I had a really fun time tonight when we were all singing songs together”, said Akayla, an American Hand. “It was one of the first times I felt we were all a real group of amazing individuals who are slowly starting to develop great bonds between each other.”

Especially this early into the program, it is crucial that moments like these exist; little by little the participants are breaking out of their comfort zone and starting new experiences with people that they have never met. This is one of many memories that these Hands and XLs will create together during the next few weeks. Best of all, the participants laugh with each other, sing with each other, and welcome each other with open arms as they anticipate what is yet to come during Hands of Peace.

“Going to the beach was one of my favorite experiences last year, because of the connections and fun I felt I had with the other participants”, said Shayna, an American XL. “This year it was even better, because I could see the new hands going through the same emotions and excitement that I had.”

Jordan Derbas is currently an incoming freshman at the University of San Diego. He was involved with the Hands of Peace service class at his high school for 4 years. He participated in Hands of Peace in 2016 and returned as an XL in 2017. He travelled to Israel and Palestine with American participants in Spring 2018. He hopes to use his knowledge from Hands of Peace to further excel in his passion of global affairs/conflict resolution.