Inspirational Afternoon at TYO

On Monday, 22 February 2010 TYO hosted an inspirational afternoon that celebrated the winners of the Universal Education Foundation’s 2010 Elham contest. About 200 teachers, students and leaders from Ministry and UNRWA schools, along with NGO representatives from Nablus, attended the ceremony.

After a warm welcome by Outreach Specialist Futoon Qadri and International Director Nell Derick Debevoise, TYO’s Core Program teachers lead the audience in an engaging trivia activity that promoted critical thinking and fostered creative mood for the day’s event.

Marwan Awartani, Secretary-General of the Universal Education Foundation (UEF), an organization that advocates for the holistic development of children as a responsibility of society as a whole, gave an uplifting presentation to the audience about the importance of supporting innovative projects in Palestine.

TYO was thrilled to host this event at the Zafer al Masri Building in Nablus and looks forward to further collaboration with UEF.

Students and teachers are invited to submit their innovative projects to Elham for consideration to be adopted by the Ministries of Education, Health or Social Affairs. See more here.


Hip-Hop and Breakdance Performance at TYO Center

Havikoro and Identity gave an electric and interactive performance for almost 200 community members at the TYO Center in the Zafer al-Masri Foundation Building in Nablus today. Young Nablus residents were engaged from start to finish, clapping, dancing and at times singing along with the performers.

Earlier in the day, Havikoro, a Houston-based hiphop and breakdance group, held a workshop for Identity, a group of young dancers and rappers from Askar refugee camp in Nablus. Together, the performers worked to improve their craft and talked about the importance of art in building bridge and transcending national boundaries.

Havikoro, based in Houston, Texas, is touring the West Bank and Jerusalem with the support of a Performing Arts Initiative grant from the US Department of State and the US Consulate General in Jerusalem. See their moves here, and keep your eyes on this page for video of the Nablus performance in the coming days. The group brings a positive message to young people around the world through breakdance other forms of hiphop.  They have shared the stage with artists and associations such as Destiny’s Child, Coolio, Black Eyed Peas, and P.O.D.

The universality of music – and hiphop culture specifically – were evident from the first glimpse of their workshop this morning, when it was impossible to separate one group from the other. Many attendees were overheard wondering who was who throughout the performance! Participants also bonded across their language barrier about the need for an Energy Drink after lunch, and enjoyed a Red Bull together before putting finishing touches on the performance. This immediate bond demonstrates the power of public diplomacy, particularly engaging youth, as described by Undersecretary Judith McHale – check out our post about her comments on the subject here. Earlier this month, Ann Stock – Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs – confirmed the Public Diplomacy’s section’s commitment to such cultural exchanges, citing them as “essential for achieving America’s foreign policy objectives and for strengthening America’s international leadership.”

TYO is grateful to our friends American Voices and the Cultural Section of the US Consulate for facilitating this energizing cultural exchange – we look forward to further cooperation!

Photo of the Day: Women’s Computer Class

Social Media Training!

Today, the Palestinian interns involved in the Kalimatna Initiative at TYO learned how to use social media, including how to post this entry on the TYO blog!!

-Hassan, Khamees, Haya, Chelsey and Imad!!!!

Hassan, Khamees, Haya are the Palestinian interns participating the Kalimatna Initiative, an initiative of TYO funded by the Youth Solidarity Fund of the UN Alliance of Civilizations. Chelsey and Imad are the project’s coordinators.

Kelsey’s Crafts: Yarn Stars

Yarn Stars

Materials Needed:

Popsicle sticks or skewer sticks

Super glue

Yarn of different colors

The Steps:

1.       Glue the small sticks in the shape of cross and wait for them to dry

2.       Tie the color yarn together  so that the entire length is about  a meter and a half

3.       Tie one end of the yarn to the middle of the cross made by the sticks

4.       Begin to wrap the yarn around each of the four parts of the cross

a.       Loop the yarn around one stick and then continue to the next

b.      Continue to do this until you’ve covered the entire cross

5.       Tie off the end of the yarn

6.       Your star is ready to hang!

Kelsey’s Crafts is a TYO blog column on how to make simple and fun crafts with children out of things found around the house. Kelsey is the Co-Coordinator of Triple Exposure at TYO. She teaches several art classes to children and youth.

Triple Exposure: Inspiration for mosaic murals

Check out the latest post by Project Coordinator Kelsey on the Triple Exposure blog:

For the spring session of Triple Exposure, I have decided to do a mosaic mural with my art classes, hopefully somewhere in the neighborhood. I have never done a mosaic mural before but I have seen how they can completely transform the neighborhoods they are done in. In Philadelphia, USA, there is a famous mosaic muralist named Isaiah Zagar who I have gotten a lot of inspiration from.

Why put off to tomorrow the youth we could empower today?

“Too often we regard our young men and women as the workers, entrepreneurs, parents, citizens and leaders of tomorrow,” write two World Bank staff members in Friday’s special report in the Financial Times: “Investing in Youth.” It is inspiring that the leading global economic daily has recognized the importance of this issue, and presented it in such a comprehensive way. Particularly in today’s lean economic times, there is a risk of already marginalized groups suffering disproportionately. World Bank contributors Wendy Cunningham and Justin Yifu Lin point out that “young people’s hopelessness in the face of the crisis is reflected by dropping out of the labour force altogether at three times the rates of adults.”

Here in Nablus, we witness the same phenomenon cited by Jay Knott, USAid’s Jordan director: “leading universities are not producing people who are ready for the workforce.” Our volunteers from An Najah University are eager to work at TYO in order to gain experience, whether in their field of study like IT, art or physical education, or as teachers and administrators in a real educational setting. Many past TYO volunteers attribute their success finding full-time work after graduation to the skills they learned at TYO, including time management, teamwork, leadership, problem solving and professionalism.

We commend the comprehensive approach promoted in the report, including personal and professional training, and health, nutrition, education and access to technology as equally valuable ingredients for improved employment outcomes for young people. Ms. Cunningham of the World Bank makes the important point that:

“Early child development programmes have been found to affect youth behaviour. They seem to reduce the incidence of youth violence and the incidence of youth unemployment, and they increase the earnings of young people – so there’s a whole range of outcomes that seem to be linked to investing in years zero through five.”

This high-level and public support for such a continuous, comprehensive approach to youth development is an important message in a context of donor-driven development that has tended to isolate program sectors, to their own detriment. Richard Lapper closes the report with another valuable point: the potential and inclination of young people to promote more open and democratic societies. He highlights the extent to which empowering and engaging youth as entrepreneurs and economic actors can lead to positive social change, even in the most difficult environments.

“Investing in Youth” was published immediately following the launch of TYO’s new project, “Fostering Women Entrepreneurs,” sponsored by the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. We hosted a knowledge-sharing workshop on Thursday, January 28, marking the official start of this initiative, which will engage 25 unemployed female university graduates in an intensive training in business skills and entrepreneurialism. Each participant will create a business plan, 4-6 of which will be incubated by TYO. Our goal is that at least one business will be launched, leveraging youthful creativity and dedication to establish a small enterprise that can provide purpose and revenue for traditional craftswomen from Nablus as well as the founding young women. Our project model engages youth as resourceful catalysts not only for their own livelihoods, but also for their communities’ well-being.

You can learn more from the opening of the workshop (in English) here, and participants’ presentations (in Arabic) here. The gathering included grassroots societies with experience in a variety of women’s projects, including artisan and agricultural cooperatives, international donor organizations, and public sector representatives. An important message that emerged from the discussion was that, particularly in the donor-driven economy of the West Bank, there has been too much emphasis on limited-term, ad hoc projects. These initiatives may build skills, or generate revenue, but they do so only for the term of the grant provided by an international donor. What is needed is a more rigorous, profit-driven approach to building sustainable enterprises – of course, without neglecting the importance of social development. We are confident that targeting young participants is an important first step in making this transition, particularly in combination with the comprehensive approach promoted by the authors of “Investing in Youth” and practiced by TYO.

You can read more about the project here, and we invite you to stay tuned as the project develops, with participant selection and training expected to conclude within February.


Nell is the International Director of Tomorrow’s Youth Organization.