The long anticipated journey to LA has begun. I am now in Hollywood, the home of entertainment. My five-week trip here is more educational of its kind, but luckily it includes some sightseeing of the city’s most famous landscapes.
One afternoon was spent it in De Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, a place where you find the most stylish and expensive brands in the world. From Gucci to Channel, and so many other names dominate the fashion industry striking the beholder with their excessively shining storefronts.
The streets are very neat, decorated with palm trees basking alongside the perfectly-paved roads. The stores and the sun are shining equally. The fanciest, fastest and most expensive cars brag as superstars while passersby take pictures and videos of them.
The upscale stores are temping even just to take a glance inside. The price tags are not much of a concern and are rarely displayed because the reputations of these ostentatious brands are already well known. My friends and I went to couple of stores only to peak at the latest trends so we could get replicas of them.
In one of the stores a pair of shoes costs $88 and a very small purse for $150, which are very expensive and unaffordable comparing to Gaza. The streets were full of tourists from many countries, mostly like us, just there to take photos to capture the memories.
Our supervisor told us that in the area there was the hotel in which appeared in Julia Roberts’s movie, “Pretty Woman.”
Though the whole area of Beverly Hills is “wowing”, the De Rodeo Drive experience did not fascinate me. I was not taken by the glamorous boulevard. It is not fun to be in a dreamy, Barbie-like world, while the reality is grim.
Before we went to Beverly Hills, we did some community service at a local Food Bank. Knowing that almost one million people out of the three million population of LA are hungry makes the lucrative area much of an absurd contrast.
The community service at the Food Bank was one of the most valuable experiences I have ever had on a human level. We started with an orientation film about the organization’s goals and vision. Then the hard work started, hand in hand everybody was helping. Smiles transmitted between the strangers. Jokes and serious talks took a place too.
Though it was very tiring, and I did complain a lot, the teamwork between people from different ethnicities, religions and races was really remarkable. There is nothing better than strangers bonding together while doing something to help others in need.
The De Rodeo visit was so much like experiencing a movie scene, something staged, fake to some extent and –not to mention–very materialistic. Along the road I thought more about this excessively luxurious area. It is not just uncomforting because Beverly Hills is the complete antithesis of other places in LA, among them the location of the Food Bank, but also knowing that many of these stores are making profits on the expense of cheap laborers across the seas. This painful fact makes such fancy products distasteful to say the least.
I have only been here about a week now; many places are yet to be explored. Although this is my experience in LA, I remain captive by my life in Gaza. It continues to influence me in all my observations and judgments so far. As a matter of fact, in times like these, when I am far away from Gaza, I am still experiencing the effect of life in Gaza.
The Beverly Hills trip highlighted that it takes more than fancy shops and fast cars to be excited and happy. To be around people who are really facing the hardships of life and to get the feeling that you are doing something to help them is definitely more much valuable and beautiful. Sometimes it is the simplest things in Gaza–like helping others– that brings happiness, and that is what has brought me happiness here in LA.
Written by :Lina
Edited by: Ehab Z