TYO Intern Alumni: Where are They Now?

“Professionally, my time at TYO was invaluable because it enabled to get my next job. Having on-the-ground experience in Palestine set my resume apart from the others and was one of the determining factors in allowing me to find a job immediately after returning to the US.”

Adrienne Clermont

An Ithica, NY native, Adrienne taught beginning photography and women’s English during her TYO internship in the fall of 2010.

What was your favorite moment/story from your time with TYO?

My favorite moments at TYO were while I was working with the kids in my Beginning Photography class. These were also moments when I wanted to tear my hair out, because there were 20 screaming kids running around me, carrying very expensive cameras! But to see the looks on those kids’ faces when they realized they could capture their own images was really priceless. I especially appreciated the fact that some of the most hyperactive, disruptive boys in the class became incredibly calm when holding one of the big DSLR cameras in their hands — they could really focus their attention and get engrossed in the process of finding the perfect shot. It made me realize that each of these kids had something special to offer, if someone was just willing to give them the chance to show it.

What do you miss most about TYO or Nablus?

By far what I miss most about TYO and living in Nablus is the hospitality of the Palestinian friends that I made there. Every single Palestinian that I met at TYO was instantaneously friendly and welcoming, and many of the women that I worked with (through my English class and the Women’s Entrepreneurship program) invited me over to their homes to meet their families and share a meal with them. By my final weeks in Nablus, I was feeling guilty at the number of invitations I had to turn down because I simply didn’t have time! This hospitality is one of the most wonderful things about Palestinian culture and I am so grateful to have experienced it first-hand — and to have gotten the chance to sample homemade maqlooba, kunafeh, and other delicacies!

What have you been up to after leaving Nablus and what are your plans for the future?

I am now a Program Coordinator for the Middle East region at the International Youth Foundation, an NGO based in Baltimore (www.iyfnet.org). Thanks to my experience at TYO and my knowledge of Palestinian culture, I was brought on board to help manage projects in Palestine and Egypt. These two projects focus on youth employment, job skills, and life skills training — key issues for young people facing high levels of unemployment in the Middle East today. My plans for the future are to continue working in the field of international development and to pursue a graduate degree in this field in the next 2-3 years. I hope to work abroad in the Middle East again soon!

Do you have any advice for anyone considering applying for a TYO internship?

Absolutely apply for this internship! Nothing compares to on-the-ground experience in a country that interests you — both from a personal growth perspective and from a professional perspective. Having that experience and demonstrating that you are capable and knowledgeable enough to live in another culture will set you apart from other candidates at every job you apply to in the future. Plus, TYO is a great place full of great people, and you will have a lot of fun!

TYO Intern Alumni: Where are They Now?

“The TYO internship program is about so much more than day-to-day classroom instruction at the center; it is also about meaningful engagement with the Nabulsi community.”

Leila Del Santo

Originally from Durham, North Carolina, Leila taught music, fitness, and computer classes at TYO during the spring 2011 semester.

What was your favorite moment/story from your time with TYO?

During the last week of music classes, my students and I took a field trip to the Edward Said Music Conservatory in Nablus. Although initially displeased that the much-anticipated field trip was not to one of the local amusement parks, the students’ disappointment soon ebbed as they eagerly watched the conservatory instructors perform and provide instruction on instruments ranging from the bass to the saxophone.  For many of my students the trip illustrated the beauty of what could be accomplished with hard work and dedication to the study of an instrument.

What have you been up to after leaving Nablus?

I am a Hart Fellow with the Duke Sanford School of Public Policy in Battambang, Cambodia (July 2011-May 2012).

Do you have any advice for anyone considering applying for a TYO internship?

The TYO internship program is about so much more than day-to-day classroom instruction at the center; it is also about meaningful engagement with the Nabulsi community.  Never let language barriers or unfamiliarity with your surroundings prevent you from building those relationships–for me personally, they were what made the internship experience so positive.

How do you think TYO affected you personally and professionally?

I’ve always loved working with kids, and the TYO internship only intensified that commitment to child and youth-related work.  My current work in Battambang Province, Cambodia is likewise centered around vulnerable youth, and it is an area of interest that will most likely extend into future professional work. On a more personal note, as an American with Palestinian roots, the TYO internship was an opportunity to learn about, and to experience and celebrate my mother’s heritage.  The graciousness and resiliency of the Palestinian people is inspiring, and I hope to return to work in Palestine in the near future.

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