Diving Headfirst into Summer

The Core Program revitalized the building here in Nablus last week. The voices, cheer, excitement, and sheer wonder breathed air into the lungs of TYO. Their arrival marks only the beginning of our summer programming, however. This week, we’re back in rhythm and jumping right into a full schedule of classes and projects.

Of course, we’ve got a whole bunch of fresh faces in the building. A new crop of great interns has arrived, and having spent the past ten days or so orienting and acclimating, eyes wide and ears open, the seven of them are ready for business. They are eager and rearing to get started, teaching a wide scope of courses from nutritious cooking and women’s fitness to photography and critical thinking. They’re a diverse and talented group about to set off on an amazing journey. It looks to be another great session.

Today, we launched the first of our summer Field Days, effectively taking the TYO show on the road and out into the neighborhoods of the people we have served here at the TYO Center for the past three and a half years. Pulling together a dream team of sorts, including Core Program teachers, international interns, staff members, and university-student volunteers, we’ll be traveling throughout the summer to all the refugee camps of Nablus (as well as the Old City) to offer two hours of fun programming, every Monday, for all those children that might not be fortunate enough to attend TYO from week to week. The first day at Askar Refugee camp was great fun, allowing us to reach nearly two hundred new children and spread the TYO message far and wide.

In June, six university students from Students of the World (SOW) will join us in Nablus.  Their national team, volunteer film crew, comprised of members from universities across the United States, will spend a month with us in Nablus, documenting our new activities and foundational programs. (Check it out: SOW’s NYU chapter spent June 2009 with us and produced this wonderful video.) We are absolutely thrilled to have SOW back in the building.

The TYO-MEPI literacy program completed five trainings this month on a variety of topics, including Scholastic’s My Arabic library, leadership, volunteerism, education, and civic engagement. The program’s volunteer corps grew by an additional fifteen local volunteers and seven international interns. This summer, they will teach 220 children (ages 6 -12) how to read.

Triple Exposure is snapping away, homework help is packed four days a week, and the Midnight Football League is rocking out three nights a week. The soccer league added in two new age groups, including a mix-gendered league for the seven to ten year-olds of Khallet al-Amood. Maybe the next Mia Hamm is in our midst…

Busy times here in Nablus! And following all our May planning, it feels great to have the beating heart of the community back  in the building.

Welcome Summer 2011 Interns!

I am happy to introduce our Summer 2011 Interns! These recent graduates and young professionals bring an array of experiences to our team, and they will help TYO reach thousands of community members this summer.

Amy – Amy is graduating absentee in June from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Humanities. Her focus is creative writing and she hopes to teach community college upon her return to the United States. Prior to her postgraduate study, Amy worked as a Program Coordinator, organizing and leading talks and activities in Los Angeles schools, for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Amy will teach a creative thinking class as part of TYO’s Summer Camp, fitness for women, a soccer clinic for young kids and an evening English class for community members.

Tala – Tala has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware in International Relations. She spent this spring as an intern at TYO headquarters in McLean, VA. Tala is no stranger to the Middle East and has traveled extensively throughout the region. She will teach an arts and crafts class as part of TYO’s Summer Camp, a nutrition class for women, a soccer clinic for young kids and an evening English class for community members.

Alex – Alex is finishing a master’s degree from King’s College (UK) in Middle East Studies and holds a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University in Eastern Mediterranean Studies. Alex spent fall semester of her junior year at The American University in Cairo, during which time she taught English to the refugee population there. Alex will teach a creative thinking class as part of TYO’s Summer Camp, fitness for women, a soccer clinic for young kids and an evening English class for community members.

Cate – Cate has a bachelor’s degree from Duke University in Public Policy and Global Health. During her undergraduate years, Cate spent time working abroad mostly with communities in east and southern Africa.  This spring, Cate worked at a refugee resettlement and social services center in Boston. She is very excited to be in the Middle East for the first time. Cate will teach an arts and crafts class as part of TYO’s Summer Camp, a fitness class for women and English classes for TYO staff members.

Mark – Mark has a bachelor’s degree from George Washington University in International Affairs and Journalism. Last summer and fall, he studied Arabic in Lebanon and Syria respectively. In Syria, Mark taught English to Palestinian refugees. He is extremely excited to be back in the West Bank. Mark will teach basic photography as part of TYO’s Summer Camp, coach a soccer clinic for young kids and teenage boys, teach English classes for TYO staff members and assist with organizational social media efforts.

Megan – Megan holds a postgraduate certificate in International Project Management and a bachelor’s degree from The University of Guelph (Canada) in Sociology. In Canada, she worked as a Project Leader for Katimavik, a youth volunteer program. From August 2010 to April 2011, Megan worked at a progressive school in Bangkok, Thailand for kids ages five to eighteen. Megan will teach an arts and crafts class as part of TYO’s Summer Camp, a nutrition class for women and an evening English class for community members.

Samin – Samin has a master’s degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies (UK) in Middle Eastern Politics and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland in Middle Eastern History. This spring, Samin interned at The Public Leadership Education Network and taught part-time at a local middle school. Samin will teach an English class as part of TYO’s Summer Camp, fitness for women, a soccer clinic for young kids and an evening English class for community members.

It is my pleasure to welcome this group to Nablus, and I look forward to all that they will contribute to our team!

- Chelsey

Chelsey is the International Internship Coordinator.

Photo of the Day: Summer Soccer Begins

The Midnight Football League kicked off its summer season on Sunday, May 29, 2011 with the addition of two new evenings: Sunday and Tuesday. On Sunday, boy and girls seven to ten years old began their first soccer clinic with Colin and the volunteers and on Tuesday boys ten to fourteen will take the field to show us what they got. It won’t be long before these young lads are ready to challenge the older boys (14-16) on Monday nights!

We look forward to a fun, safe and exciting season for all!

What a Wonderful World: The Core Children Are Back!

The work and pace of life here at TYO hasn’t slowed much since the spring session ended in the middle of April. Maybe the teachers, administrators, fresh-faced interns and volunteers had the chance to take in a deep breath for a few days, but then it was right back to all the planning, recruiting, and trouble-shooting necessary for the summer’s exciting programming.

And so, the building continued to bustle with meetings, curriculum writing, MEPI trainings, leadership seminars, and the energy of business getting done. Nonetheless, throughout, there was something missing that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Something that made everything seem just a step out of rhythm. Then, this morning, I remembered. The children!

At long last, the Core children have returned. Once again, these four to five year-olds, the shy and scared, outgoing and introverted, the smiling and the anxious paraded into TYO, doing their best to make sense of all the new stimuli, the new children, the new noises. As Adam summed up last spring, it is pure joy.

Their first steps are nervous, as if testing the ground. Then they grow more confident, they make friends, they start to sing with their voices and their eyes and right at the moment, all the preparation and writing and logistics find their relevance.

The Core program, offering psychosocial education for these young children from all across Nablus and its assortment of refugee camps, inspires a unique and undiminished happiness each and every time the kids arrive. It’s felt like a long wait, but finally, the Core children are back. I hope these photos can help paint a better picture.

First Summer Workshop for TYO-MEPI Literacy Collaboration

On Saturday, May 14, 2011 Tomorrow’s Youth Organization completed the first summer workshop of the TYO-MEPI literacy collaboration. This session focused on training this summer’s old and new volunteers on how to use Scholastic’s My Arabic library to encourage reading and improve literacy in Nablus’ children.  For more information on this collaboration, read: TYO launches a new literacy project in partnership with MEPI.

Triple Exposure Mural complete in El Ein boys’ school

Last week, Rimah and the volunteers, in conjunction with a group of eight students, completed a new mural in a classroom at the UNRWA boys’ school in El Ein refugee camp in Nablus. The eight boys, all around 14 years old, had a prior interest in art, and this shone through in their natural affinity for painting. They were full of ideas not only for the mural but also about their futures, and football – asking Rimah if she was a Real Madrid or Barcelona fan – two of the most popular teams here.

Many of them had been to TYO when they were younger, attending the photography and painting classes. Some still find the time to put pen to paper and draw or paint for fun. However El Ein School does not have an art teacher, so this was a great chance not only for the boys to be creative but also to brighten up the classroom for everyone.

We would like to thank El Ein School for such a well organised, well chosen group of boys. They were so talented and professional, and the already established friendships made for some brilliant teamwork!

FWEN Participants show goods at USCG Bazaar

On Thursday, May 12, 2011 FWEN participants Afnan of Coffee Roasters and Heba and Hana of H2 Fashion Design displayed their goods at a bazaar, in Jerusalem, in support of women entrepreneurs sponsored by the United States Consulate General in Jerusalem.

Triple Exposure Mural Completed at El Ein Girls School

For the first of this summer’s murals, Mural teacher Rimah went to the UNRWA girls’ school in El Ein refugee camp in Nablus. Working with seventeen girls from the school, she brainstormed ideas for the scene. Together, they came up with an idyllic park landscape, based on the ideas of the environment and childhood play, to paint across two walls of the playground.

Rimah taught the girls, ages 12-14, how to mix colours to make new ones, which they especially enjoyed, and to use stencils to put flowers into the scene. The volunteers, fellow fine art graduates Alaa and Inaam, were really helpful, and assisted passersby — sometimes as young as 5 or 6 years old — who wanted to join in. The team worked hard to complete the mural in only two days!

The students love the mural and can take pride in their collective efforts which everyone can enjoy – it’s the first and only one in the school. Needless to say, they have asked to do more!

This summer, Rimah and her team of volunteers will complete ten murals in different schools and locations around Nablus.

The spaces between hello and goodbye

The spring session came to a swift end (I suppose that is always how things end, isn’t it? No slow-mo montages like in the movies, no lengthy, profundity-laced embraces accompanied by a melodramatic musical score), a whirlwind of goodbyes, celebrations both happy and melancholic, early morning flights back stateside, and a constant reaching and searching for words that would always be inadequate in describing what the past three months have meant to us all. The world keeps on spinning without asking our approval, and we all have to roll on with it. Such is a reality no philosopher or theologian or clever songwriter has satisfyingly retorted or provided an alternative course of action for. However, even though time and space shifts for one and all alike, no matter where we go or what we do, I think I can speak for all the spring interns in saying that our time together with TYO Nablus will bond us indelibly, both to one another and to this city. It was a wonderful time, a foundational time.

Pardon me, the reverie and reflection, yet I want to convey just what the program at TYO has come to mean to those who have passed through. Seminal might be a good word. So thank you, for everyone that has made this program possible.

As for the here and now, well, I’m back to Nablus for another few months to help with the launching of our summer camp. Being back in town also means I can continue the Midnight Football League that Adam and I organized over March and April.

For the summer, we will be expanding the program to new age groups, starting a youth academy for the young lads and lasses just getting their feet wet in the sport, and also opening up the senior league to as many new recruits as Khallet al-Amood can provide us. I can’t wait to get started, and will be sure to keep you all informed of the league’s comings and goings via these posts, new photos, and even video footage. Action will kick off again this week.

Oh, and big ups to Bayern Munich for winning the Cup Championship two weeks ago! Great leadership from their captain Ameed Bawab set the tone, and they delivered quality performance after quality performance across the tournament. Congratulations should also be extended to Arsenal for winning the League Championship (best Regular season record) and to Sameh Kharoshe for taking home the League’s Golden Boot award (top scorer).

I’ll be writing again soon. Until then, folks, stay fly.

- Colin

Colin is a former intern and currently the Youth Camp Coordinator.


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