Honoring World Refugee Day at Balata Camp

Today we mark World Refugee Day. For TYO staff, volunteers, and interns it was especially poignant as we spent the afternoon at Balata Refugee Camp – the largest camp in the West Bank. With over 30,000 residents on 1 kilometer of land, Balata is a microcosm of the plight of Palestinian refugees across the region.  With limited access to water, sewage, health, and educational services, camps are a haven for disease, poverty, and unemployment.

Children are the most vulnerable victims. Without access to quality early childhood education and the space and freedom to play as every child should have,  psychosocial problems such as post traumatic stress disorder and aggression are on the rise.  It is for this reason that the dedicated team of TYO staff, volunteers, and interns work hard each and every day to bring a little hope to each member of our refugee community.

Today was no different. After filling the bus up with staff, teachers, volunteers and interns, we took the five minute drive down to Balata, following the gentle, rolling hills that lead away from Nablus city center. After setting up shop at a local community center, soon came a jolt of brightness, of energy, of hope, of life. What a day! Young boys and girls made their way in waves, cautious and curious at the same time. We welcomed them, shared some introductory games and songs, and fed off their effervescent presence. We split the group, some engaging in thrilling relay races and sports games, others having the chance to embrace their artistic side: for the latter, we asked that they design a peace letter, illustrating and decorating a card of self-expression, showing who they are to the world, showing the peace they hope for to the world.

I hope these photos can do it some justice. Thanks to Andrea of S.O.W. for the great work!

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Welcome SOW National Team!

TYO is delighted to welcome back to its Nablus Center members of Students of the World. This June, the SOW National Team will be in Nablus documenting TYO’s programs and activities.

Welcome back, friends!

Andrea Patiño – Photographer. A native from Bogota, Colombia, Andrea Patiño is in her third year at Duke University majoring in Cultural Anthropology. She has been engaged in documentary photography for about a year now and is very passionate about it. While photography—especially photographing others—is an activity that poses a lot of questions, particularly about ethics, Andrea thinks that this medium is one of the best ways to tell a story.

Jackie Turner – Filmmaker. Jackie Turner is in her third year at the University of Michigan, majoring in Program in the Environment and Screen Arts and Cultures and looking towards a career in environmental and social documentary.  At U of M, Jackie is an executive producer and board member of M-agination Films, a student-run production organization focused on helping connect students from all disciplines who want to make films with the resources to do so.  She has produced short documentary films about her previous travels to Guatemala, Kenya and Costa Rica.

Madeline Lewis – Development Coordinator. Madeline Lewis is a third year Foreign Affairs major at the University of Virginia’s Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics. She has a passion for anything international and is excited about her position on the 2011 SOW National team as the Development Coordinator. Born and raised in Dallas, Madeline’s love for traveling led her to Charlottesville for college, where she has immersed herself in hiking adventures and the history surrounding her college town.

Sarah Osman – Journalist. Sarah Osman is a senior at the University of Michigan majoring in English and Communications. She is originally from New Jersey but her home is now in Commerce, MI.  She enjoys writing and creating concepts for LEAD Magazine as the Creative Director.

Kate Simpson – Producer. Kate is a senior majoring in philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. Through riding in a charity bicycle tour across North America, Kate discovered her love of nonprofits and hopes to someday have a career in that field. She is excited to be a part of Students of the World because it will allow her to follow her passion for serving others, challenge her boundaries, and to further explore the world.

Jon Kasbe – Assistant Filmmaker. Jon is a curious filmmaker at UNC-Chapel Hill majoring in media production. Last semester, Jon worked with The Daily Tar Heel creating online videos for the multimedia page. Jon is currently freelancing as a multimedia journalist for Reese Felts Digital News, an innovative digital news publication. Jon is also the director of photography for the one-hour drama “Above The Fold,” a scripted student web/TV show.

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