While Global Encounters (GE) Camps experienced a brief pause for all in-person activities due to Covid-19, the emergence of a virtual camp, CONNECT, continued the spirit of global connection within the Ismaili community through a virtual platform and will do so again this year.
As Covid testing and vaccinations become more accessible, GE Camps physically located at the Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa, will be reintroduced in June. Ismaili youth will experience the One Jamat ethos in person by interacting with their Ismaili peers from other parts of the world. They will also have the opportunity to see various AKDN projects in action, and learn about local communities.
Nisha Khorasi, a facilitator from the United States, said, “Ismailis that live thousands of miles apart, who would have otherwise never met and never known one another’s lives, are smiling, laughing, and embracing one another. It truly warms my heart in a way nothing else can.”
The GE Camp is a month-long residential experience that brings together Ismaili youth, aged 15-18 years, to gain exposure to various AKDN projects in Kenya, Pakistan, and India. Participants learn how to engage with community members thoughtfully, listen to stories of their fellow participants empathetically, and become compassionate global citizens by gaining cultural competencies.
Sameer Paroo, Senior Programme Manager for GE, said, “There’s a big opportunity that exists when we bring people together. For example, when participants eat together, that builds conversation and an atmosphere of lived pluralism. We can talk about what our worlds are like and develop new perspectives. Participants build a sense of empathy when it comes to working with others.”
GE Camps offer participants a range of service-learning opportunities with community organisations, nurturing leadership potential and encouraging thoughtful engagement on the pressing issues facing our planet.
With Covid-related safety measures in place, participants will have the opportunity to live, work, and thrive at the Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa from 25 June - 17 July 2022. As part of this transformational experience, participants will witness the impact of Imamat Institutions through various fields, including education and health; explore new interests and passions through thematic workshops; and interact with local agencies through project-based learning opportunities.
Enas Fatoom, a Syrian alumna who attended the camp in 2017, mentioned that "the world is full of opportunities to experience diversity, but what makes GE special is that you experience it at a young age, with your sisters and brothers from all around the world, and get a pure understanding of diversity, plurality, unity, and friendship.”
From having meals with fellow participants and facilitators to visiting local sites, participants will broaden their perspective on global development, witness the impact of AKDN institutions, and leave with a renewed sense of their Ismaili identity and the impact they, too, can make in their home communities.
Aly Jafferani, a facilitator from Pakistan, said, “One of the things I fondly remember about GE Camps are the informal conversations I had with participants over walks to session halls, dining halls or the Jamatkhana. Those conversations ranged from learning new languages to sharing life experiences which led to participants coming out of their comfort zones, which helped to cement lifelong connections.”
Participant and facilitator applications for GE Camps are open and due on 23 January. Zaki Hirji, an alumnus from the United Kingdom, advises, “Really just be yourself in the application! Think about who you are right now and who you’d like to be coming away from camp. What goals do you want to achieve? Do you want to learn about new cultures? Perhaps indulge in new cuisines? Create long-lasting friends and a global network? Be genuinely curious to learn, lead and serve.”
GE Camps hope to continue to keep the safety of the participants as a first priority. The organising team will continue to work with health authorities to carefully monitor the environment to keep it safe and secure. Any information concerning changes to the programme plans, vaccination protocols, or travel information updates will be posted on the GE website.
Apply today by visiting the Global Encounters website!