I left Rondine more than a year ago. I also left behind maybe the most significant time in my life so far, without fully understanding the impact it made on who I am or how I observe the world. It takes some time to grasp it, to perceive and face the changes which was made in you as a person. Even if you can’t admit it at first, the way you saw everything before has changed. The way you see people and your purpose in this world is changed.
My name is Elad Morad and I am an Israeli who lived in Rondine for 2 years from 2009-2011. Today I live in New York City, working for the Israeli Government and Merrill Lynch. My experience at Rondine has come up many times over the past year: I share it with anyone who wants to listen, and have found that people really do want to listen. I try to inspire people with my story, about the Israeli soldier who found himself living in Tuscany with people who he thought were his enemy. But telling your story isn’t enough.
Recently, Hurricane Sandy struck the New York region, leaving much of the city we knew looking like a battle field. These New Yorkers, who have some of the richest lifestyles in the world, suddenly had to struggle to find water, shelter and electricity. It’s then that you look at yourself and ask what can you do to help; how can I make it better for others?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not Mother Theresa, far from it. But it is in those kind of moments when you are being judged and you search to volunteer and help anywhere you can, giving back to people because the world and circumstance has already given to you. As Rondine has given to you. Until others are in serious need, it’s hard to recognize just how much has been given to us and how those opportunities shape us. Take yourself, the new Rondine student, who comes back from university and goes directly to do a turn in the kitchen. You who wakes up at six in the morning to take your friends to the Docia, you who bake a birthday cake for your friend who is supposed to be your “enemy,” you who knows your friends will arrive late for dinner and saves food for them.
Even if you don’t believe me now, the actions you take in your daily life in Rondine will stick with you when you get back to the real world, where you’ll return as a better person, to be part of a better “we.”