By Ben Babione
“Welcome to Speak Out!!!” The shout enthusiastically rung out across the courtyard as each camper came into the high school compound Monday morning. The Bosnian students made their way to the registration table, received a colored bandana representing which team they would be on for the week, and began to meet new people. This week was going to be about one major thing: friendship.
Speak Out is a week-long camp for Bosnian high school students to practice their conversational English with other international and American students while simultaneously build new friendships through fun and conversation. Our team’s role during this this week was to be the instigators of conversation and fun in order to develop relationships and engage with Bosnian students on a heart level. We did this in several ways, the first way was to break up both Bosnian students and MKs into different teams. These teams competed two hours a day in games and activities like relay races and a scavenger hunt to see who would be crowned the speak out Olympic champion! By the end of the week, each team had its own culture, cheers, and fun memories that helped propel friendships forward. Secondly, the MK and Bosnian students were intermingled in small groups of four to five people and for another two hours each day these groups would spend time in conversation about the four dimensions of people, the physical, the mental, the emotional, and the spiritual. These times were specifically designed to give the space for deep and genuine conversation in which each person could learn from the other and share their personal beliefs. Thirdly, each evening an event was hosted in order to bring the entire community closer together. These events included a Bosnia fair, international fair, scavenger hunt, and skit performance night.
Every moment of speak out was planned so that true friendship and trust could be formed. Our team did an amazing job each day by bringing the energy, enthusiasm, and maturity needed to help this week be the best week that it could be! We were able to have meaningful conversations with students about life, culture, and faith. Through these new friendships and connections, we hope to boost the local Svaki Student (Every Student) ministry and allow them to continue to have significant conversations with the Bosnian students.
Throughout this week, I saw God in the ways that He provided energy and joy for our team even when we were tired. I saw God in the ways each of our students intentionally and boldly sat down with Bosnian students to talk about the most important things in life. I saw God in the laughter and smiles of our team. I saw God in the hard goodbyes after only a short time together. I saw God in friendships made.