PETERSBURG, Va. (WTVR) - The Tri-Cities Work Camp has attracted church youth groups from up and down the East Coast for 25 years.
This week, about 200 youth from seven states are lending a helping hand as they work to rebuild homes to those who cannot afford the repairs.
And seven Palestinian teens, who left home, some for the first time, to take part in work camp are part of this year's team.
"I'm here to make friends, to make the world a better place, to make peace, that's my goal," said 16-year-old Khalil Nairouz, who is on his third visit to the United States.
Fourteen-year-old Sama Dawani, who made her first trip to the U.S., is enjoying the experience.
"I want to be remembered that I came here to help other people and to have fun with them and make new friends," she said outside the home she is helping renovate.
Ironically, the youth are here doing work that wouldn't be allowed in the West Bank.
In fact, the teens and their pastor, Father Ibrahim Nairouz, had to travel 10 hours to Jordan, to catch flight, because they aren't allowed to use the airport just an hour from their home.
For most involved in work camp, it's a yearly experience, like 18-year-old John Wilder from northern Virginia, now on his 3rd work camp, he's glad it's along side new friends from the middle east.
"You're not going to know more about other parts of the world till you try to understand and I think helping people learn about different cultures throughout the world, is a good way to increase harmony and peace among different cultures."