My dream has always been to visit new places, but I must admit that when I knew where I would go, I was a bit worried ... I mean, Israel, everybody knows, is not the safest place in the world. However considering what is happening everywhere, no place is it ... so why not leave?

This was my first Lions camp and I did not know what to expect but the anxiety I felt was nothing compared to that of my mom.

When I arrived into the airport I was so tense that I did not realize that ... I was in Tel Aviv! To wait there was my host family with a rose and the sign "Welcome Alessia". I am aware that I have been lucky: for all this experience my adoptive parents treated me as a part of their family and on some occasions even as a princess, trying to make me to know not only the city, but also their everyday life and their full family, despite half being in America.

After meeting with my hosts, the thing I was worried about was not getting well with other guys. Looking back now it seems so stupid: the Opening Night when I was just arrived, the girls made so many questions about Italy and my life. So we began to exchange trivial information which made us bonded immediately.

When we went out with the "nomad camp" to visit the country, we found a very nice guide, Ben, who spurred us to talk to those people we hadn’t done it yet. After that we became really united, as if we were all friends for so long time.

I’m listing some of the things we saw, but I know it will be reductive: we visited the desert and mountains, ate with the Bedouins, rode camels, slept under the stars, bathe in the Dead Sea, and saw the dawn from a mountain, but we also saw the consequences of the civil war bordered with the Gaza Strip, we have been to Jerusalem, Nazareth, Bethlehem, Akko, Jaffa and Golan, bordering on Syria. Landscapes so beautiful and so different, from all that I had seen before this trip, that I cannot forget them.

After these intense nine days, the normality of Israeli life seems much more like home. The hosts took us to the beach to have a picnic and we celebrated Shabbat with their families, but we continued to meet each other to visit places for us, foreigner people (and some also for them, Israeli citizens) unusual as the museum of the Jewish people or the Palmachim Air Force base. We spent together almost all the evenings and we had fun playing cards or a German game, which we called "The town", but we have also been MasterChef fake.

Needless to say how much sad the last night was: no one wanted to leave and lose sight of friends (although with social networks we are in constant contact); there were hugs, exchange of gifts, but no, no tears because we promised to meet each other on several occasions, like New Year’s Eve or Easter.

I would like to say that this experience will always remain in my dearest memories, especially thanks to the people I shared it with. With my family I have been able to fully appreciate this trip, a bit 'away from home, without nostalgia of my parents or Italian food (which is saying something); while with the guys I enjoyed every moment spent together laughing and joking.

So I thank all those who have allowed me to enrich myself as a person: first Lions of Belluno and those in the Tel Aviv district, both my families (the Italian and the Israeli ones) and the guys, sweet people I will never forget.

Alessia De Barba

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