Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Camp CommUNITY Reflection - Shalma Movassaghi

Shalma Movassaghi—2009                                                                      
Martin High School Senior, 2010
Founder of the Martin High School Multicultural Alliance Club

Last summer, I learned that the Multicultural Alliance makes it possible for young adults to learn not only about themselves but also about the most important aspects of the world around them.

I still remember the day I was called out of my American History class by a teacher that I didn’t really know.  Mrs. Thomas asked me what I was doing that summer and said she had a wonderful, life-changing experience to offer me.  It seemed that she had been looking all year for special students to recruit for this camp…and she had chosen me! I learned she had been receiving recommendations from teachers at my school, and my name had been mentioned by several of my present and former teachers.  

As she told me about camp, I became fascinated with its concept and immediately knew that I just HAD to go.  I felt so honored to be selected to represent my school and feel forever grateful to the teacher who chose me and had faith in me.

After being invited to Camp CommUNITY, I went into the experience with some slight hesitation and a lot of curiosity.  Five days later, when being picked up to go home, I had tears in my eyes when my father met just some of the life-long friends I had made in the short but amazing amount of time I had been away. As we drove home, my dad kept asking me, “Tell me about what you did at camp.  I want to know more about it.” What did I do at camp?  What did I learn?  My mind spun around and around as it was filled with a myriad of thoughts.  How could I possibly explain this unique and spectacular experience to him or to anyone?

The single biggest thing about camp that was so moving and so meaningful was that that all of these people I had gone to school with, people I would never in a million years have talked to on a daily basis, came to this camp as well as all of these complete strangers…well, it was kind of awkward at first but only for a very, very short time.  We had an hour bus ride, and before we even got there, all that strangeness just went away.  Imagine 60 teenagers of all different cultural, economic, and religious groups becoming incredibly close in 5 short days!  Now that is something powerful.

I feel so very lucky that I came to Camp CommUNITY and learned all that I did. Not many people ever really learn these intangible things like we do at camp. Sure, I learned about other cultures and religions, I learned about stereotyping, I learned to celebrate differences and see the many, many similarities that all humans have. But at Camp, I learned so much more. I learned to open up myself to the world and experience a miracle. You see, when you open yourself up, so do other people.

With Camp CommUNITY in my mind all summer long, I went back in the fall for my last year of high school determined to share all that I had learned from my advisors, counselors, and friends with anyone in my school who was interested in hearing about it.  During this past year, I was able to create a club here at Martin High School that will represent the Multicultural Alliance and the goals and values of Camp CommUNITY.  On my 18th birthday, the first meeting of the club was successfully held.  

Through help from the MCA---specifically, Mrs. Adena Cytron-Walker and my teachers at Camp CommUNITY---I have been able to bring something significant back from what I had at first thought would be just a nice 5-day summer vacation, a club that will be around for years, affecting many other Martin students, helping young adults in my school transform their own lives and others’.  Perhaps other schools will form their own MCA Clubs!  

Now that I am at home, all year I have noticed a huge difference. I am more open. I’ve made dozens of new friends.  I now understand that all people are born to love, to bond, to be connected, and to share the planet for a reason. Camp CommUNITY gave rebirth to the good inside of all of us and to the courage to love.  After Camp CommUNITY, I now live a more effective, more joyful, more peaceful life…a life of kindness and sharing and better understanding.



MCA is a human relations organization whose mission is to promote inclusion, diversity and understanding while working toward eliminating bias, bigotry and oppression in our community.
Multicultural Alliance® | 500 West Seventh Street, Ste 1707, Unit 15, Fort Worth, TX 76102 | phone (817) 332-3271 | fax (817) 332-3272

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