Caroline, a Step into the Gap Volunteer placed at Newman University, shares her experience of preparing for her overseas visit to the Holy Land and reflects on her pre-departure feelings.
As I was making my way back to Birmingham after just finishing four days of preparation with the other gap year volunteers, my overseas visit has suddenly become very real. I’m now up to date on everything from the weather in the Holy Land (very unpredictable) to the length of the flight (six hours). As I became more aware of the logistics behind my trip the group and I began to discuss how we were feeling and what we hoped to achieve whilst in the Holy Land. Personally, I’m really looking forward to beginning to understand what the daily reality is like in the birthplace of three major religions. I’m also excited by the prospect of witnessing how CAFOD is working with young people from Israel and Palestine. It is these young people that I know will inspire me so that on my return to Newman University I can share the individual and honest portrayals of the people I will encounter.
The prospect of being fully immersed into different cultures is another exciting prospect for me as through studying Human Geography I have developed a passion for spaces of encounter and attitudes towards difference. Therefore, I’m excited to uncover how my experiences differ from the experiences of the young people I meet whilst overseas. I know this will be a great opportunity to understand the work of CAFOD first hand so I can genuinely develop connections with those I meet in the Holy Land and afterwards those I will then engage with in Birmingham.
With personal preparation well underway, which has included lots of reading and working out how I can possibly fit everything in one large backpack. Thankfully for Christmas I’ve asked for fantastic fish and a happy queen bee from the CAFOD World Gifts range so the delightful gift cards will definitely fit in my bag! Make sure you check out the website to explore the range and find your perfect Christmas present!
I have also started preparation with students at Newman University. At Newman, we have been discussing where CAFOD works across the world and writing messages of hope and prayers of peace. Within the Archdiocese of Birmingham, I have also had the opportunity to discuss with CAFOD supporters the range of projects CAFOD supports and CAFOD’s latest climate and energy campaign.
As I continue to prepare I ask you to please pray for me and the other Gap Year Volunteers as we work to put our faith in action and encourage others to do so through our work. If this experience sounds like something you’d be interested in, applications for Step into the Gap are now open. I look forward to keeping you up to date with my experiences in the Holy Land and the rest of my year with CAFOD.