Utah Teen Returns from Baha'i Youth Service Corps Work in Israel

June 26, 2004

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune

On June 26, 2004 The Salt Lake Tribune reported, "Her grandparents spent more than two years serving the faith in Switzerland. Her older brother gave a year in Elliott, Maine. An aunt is still on her mission. So it was only natural that Lahdan Saeed, fresh out of Highland High School in Salt Lake City, would join the Bahai Youth Service Corps. Bahais have emphasized service since the faith's beginnings in 1844, but the youth corps was not officially instituted until 1984. At that time leaders argued that the movement's young people should give one or two years, at home or abroad, to help members of the faith as well as outsiders... 'I wanted to go somewhere drastically different than Salt Lake City,' says Saeed, who returned to Utah on Tuesday. 'But I wanted a structured experience, not just getting dropped in Mozambique with no idea what to do.' So she applied to work at the faith's Bahai World Center in Haifa, Israel, and was chosen from among hundreds of applicants between 18 and 30...In Haifa, the Bahais own four buildings laid out among 19 terraces known as 'the Arc.' Grounds and buildings are kept in such immaculate cleanliness that a person could lick the carports. For the first six months, Saeed was assigned to a 5-7 person cleaning crew, focused on staff housing. 'Before I left, I joked with my friends that I'd be cleaning toilets all day,' she said this week. 'To a certain extent that was true.' They became advanced cleaning professionals, she said, with expertise in waxing, buffing, sweeping and scrubbing. The second half of the year, Saeed spent as the only female on a grounds crew that worked with heavy equipment such as power washers."