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Tamara Alqassis

Adventures in the Deep South

Yes, I’ve heard! When people hear I am going to Louisiana, they immediately tell me that it will be “so hot and humid”, and filled with “alligators”. I guess this gave me an overall image of Louisiana. So, 9 students from Bethlehem University and I left Palestine to go to Washington, DC for an internship. We spent the first four days in Catholic Charities Campus’ dorms with other interns from the United States. We went through orientation with American inters about the agency in the first couple of days, and then had a tour in DC in our last day. These four days were our last days to spend together as each student had to leave for his/her own state.

Now, I am here in Shreveport, Louisiana and you know what! They are right. It is burning hot outside, but freezing inside. There is not in between, either too hot or too cold. Since I got here, I have not been homesick. I just love the state so much that I do not want to leave it, and I have only been here for nearly one week. My host family is so funny and they immediately opened their arms for me to be a part of them. I get along with them so well that I just feel I’ve been living with them for a long time. They are too kind and they always ask me what I’d like to do or where to go. The first day I got to Shreveport, we all went to a Chinese restaurant where I had my first Chinese food and fortune cookie, which said “[a] pleasant surprise is in store for you”.

Well, I believe the pleasant surprise is having the chance to live with them and experience it. Oh! I guess people forgot to tell me that everything is fried here! On my first day I knew that they even fry Oreos and ice-creams at their state fair. I still cannot get it- It’s just mind blowing! On father’s day, we went to a restaurant called “The Twisted Root” where I tried Fried Green Beans for the first time. Well, I was supposed to eat it in one bite, but the whole bean just slipped into my mouth and I had to eat the fried part on its own. But, I like it! It was really good.

A night before, Joseph (the father), Nora (the daughter), and I went to the cinema and watched a Pixar movie called Inside Out. I have to tell you a secret; as the character Sadness said “[y]ou’ll get lost in there”, and yes people, I got lost in the amazing Shreveport and its people. Of course I don’t want to forget about my internship in Catholic Charities of North Louisiana (CCNL). I have to say that I loved helping people more than doing office work. You all have heard about the Red River flooding that flooded the houses along the river. We, CCNL are helping the victims with the best possibilities we can offer for them.

You know, these days have been so precious to my heart. I had the opportunity to listen to the saddest stories I could ever hear. The flood just took everything from them, and now they are left without shelters, clothes or food. Although they are left with nothing, when you talk with them, you just sense this faith and trust that it happened for a reason, and God just saved them; that they are now alive to continue God’s work. You could see their smiles just by standing and supporting them. I will end this by quoting the character Joy from “Inside Out”, “I could listen to [their] stories, all day”. For now, this is what I can tell you! Keep up with my adventure in Shreveport, Louisiana as it progresses.


Bethlehem University Foundation
Phone: +1-240-241-4381
Fax: +1-240-553-7691
Beltsville, MD USA
Bethlehem University in the Holy Land
Phone: +972-2-274-1241
Fax: +972-2-274-4440
Bethlehem, Palestine