NCSY GIVE WEST: Banquet Speech #1 (Rebecca)

It all started with delayed flights, really good La Bella pizza, and super fun icebreakers. We learned each other’s names, where were all from……our favorite ice cream flavor, T.V shows, and singers. Although it took a few days, we quickly became one big family. We learned how to make everything a fun situation, whether it was singing in the homeless shelters, dancing in camp ETTA or surviving a 7.1 earthquake. This was all possible thanks to our advisors who taught us to always have a smile on our faces when doing anything because you never know who you could impact. An overarching theme of this summer was to always be thankful for what we have and to not take anything for granted. In the St.Vincent De Paul Society, we learned to be thankful for every bite of food that is put into our mouth. At Camp Etta, we were able to feel the joy of helping Jewish teens like us who aren’t able to do all of the things that we can. When helping with the Kiruv Camp at the Spivak’s, all of us realized how lucky we are to have been raised in a Jewish environment. Lastly, today, we were able to interact with people from different cultures, who are in very different situations than we are. I had the privilege of meeting an amazing girl named Zala, who showed me a different way on how to look at things. When our bus pulled up her eyes lit up and said: “WHOA, is that your bus!”. She got to walk on and was AMAZED by everything we had. Later, she said, “I wish I could be you guys when I grow up.” She also told me that this was her favorite day of summer camp and that all of her friends who missed it would be SO upset they weren’t there. I could go on and on listing how each place, whether it was a chesed or a fun touring activity, helped us realize how lucky we are to be who we are. As we were walking out of midnight mission, I heard a woman who said something that sums up what Give West is all about. She said, “These girls could be hanging out on their couches right now and watching T.V, but they decided to come here.” Before this summer, if you told me that I’d be spending my July Fourth handing out food in a homeless shelter, I’m not sure how excited I would be. However, Give West made each and every one of us LOVE chesed instead of thinking of it as a burden. Now, if you told one of us we were hopping on the bus to go to a homeless shelter, we’d be prepared and excited for what would be in store. We were all HAPPY to go help the homeless people living in L.A, and we knew that if we didn’t do it, no one would. This is a Jewish idea, which is taught in Pirkei Avot, a book filled with Jewish philosophies, that Esther and I had the privilege of learning. The quote goes like this, “אִם אֵין אֲנִי לִי, מִי לִי?”. “If I am not for myself, who will be for me.” This summer we learned that you can’t just sit back and assume others will do the job for you. In our chabburas, which were lead by our amazing advisors we learned that the only way to become a better person is to slowly work on yourself. As Leah said on the first day, “By the end of this summer, you all will be different people than you are right now.” I can definitely say this is true for myself, and I’m sure everyone in this room can too. Give West was an inspiring, fun, and outstanding few weeks, making it the BEST. SUMMER. EVER. (Rebecca, FL)