Teaching and Tweeting: Megan and Mark’s Week With the Zajel Program at An Najah University

Last week, Mark and I taught a five-day seminar series on Social Media for the Zajel Summer Program at An Najah University.

We focused primarily on how to use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Blogs to promote your campus club, business, non-profit organization and even yourself online. Our approach to teaching these workshops was to not only provide more information about popular social networking tools but to also offer a chance to practice using them with guidance from teachers who use these applications on a regular basis.

Our students had a great time practicing creating Facebook pages and blogs dedicated to a range of topics, including a fake campaign to create an artificial sea in Nablus (the “We Need a Sea in Nablus” Facebook page). As a Twitter enthusiast, I most enjoyed sharing my love of tweeting with my students. Twitter was a site that everyone in the class had heard of but didn’t know much about. They were keen to learn more about it and we helped them to set up their own accounts. We also offered tips on how to link different social media accounts to each other in order to maximize your online audience. Continue reading


The Super Seven

In between the critical thinking skills, confidence boosting, English proficiency, and creativity, the interns of TYO have one very simple, but indispensable goal – providing a space for kids to be kids.

The Super Seven – interns Alex, Amy, Cate, Mark, Megan, Samin, and Tala – are off and running. Some of us are first time teachers and some are not. Some incorporate the teachings of leading pedagogues and some spend the evenings memorizing Raffi songs. We’ve debated the value of games, activities, and techniques over our friendly neighborhood falafel sandwiches. But, at the end of the day, we just want our kids to enter our classrooms ready to relax, have some fun and, insha’allah, maybe learn a little something, too.

Each intern faces unique challenges. Samin teaches English to 9-11 year olds. Developing a flexible and evolving curricula is definitely a complex task. Furthermore, because English is already taught in formal schooling, Samin is also tasked with developing fun, unique teaching methods in line with the informal, psychosocial approach promoted at TYO. How has she responded? She plans to boost students’ sense of self while cleverly incorporating vocabulary with her “Who am I?” unit this summer. Stay tuned to the TYO blog for updates on Sly Samin’s progress in the classroom.

Alex and I are working to implement TYO’s first Creative Thinking curriculum. Our goals range from encouraging creative problem solving to providing a space for unabated self-expression. “I just want to make them laugh,” Alex tells me, her arms full of school supplies. “If they’re laughing, they’re having fun.”

Although our strategies vary as much as our favorite Shawarma, we all agree on one thing: it’s all about the kids. Stick with us for updates, projects, victories, whimsical mishaps, and lots more as the Super Seven and TYO’s awesome staff and volunteers work to serve the Nablus community. This is gonna be good.

– Amy

Amy is a summer intern at TYO Nablus.

Intern Journal: Enjoy the view, be in the moment!

For a girl who has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya, I didn’t quite expect the intern “leisure” hike in the Wadi Qelt near Jericho to be any big feat. I especially didn’t expect having to end the hike with a donkey-ride due to my inability to control my legs. When our taxi first pulled up to the entrance of the Wadi Qelt, I was in awe of the scene before my eyes; sprawling canyons, rugged hilltops, and bedouins herding their goats. I was in a magical place; truly biblical. As our group descended into the desert, it felt as if we were the only people for miles.

That initial high soon gave way to complete and utter exhaustion. Whether it was dehydration, the heat, or those extra 20 lbs that I’ve packed on since my time in East Africa, the hike was anything but leisurely for a certain intern. As our group began to splinter off between those of us in shape and those of us who enjoy a little too much hummus and pita, it became increasingly clear that I might in fact pass out at any moment, roll down the massive cliffs, and endure a fate worse than James Franco in 127 hours. Continue reading

The Show Goes On

You may have thought the UEFA Champions League Final between Barcelona and Man Utd marked the official end of football this year. As Barca delivered another virtuoso performance, perhaps the final flourish towards establishing their legacy as one of the best club sides ever, you may have been left thinking, well, now what? After all, this is neither a World Cup summer nor do we have the European Championships to look forward to. It sure looked like a long wait until August when the club seasons recommenced.

Fear not, however. Here in Nablus, football rages on as all those millionaire professionals take their holidays on beaches around the world. Indeed, this past Sunday, we welcomed in a great crew of habibis and habibtis, boys and girls between the ages of seven and ten, to take part in an assortment of drills and matches. On Monday, the old hands returned, all those fourteen and overs who were members of our original, flagship Midnight Football program. These young men have been here at TYO since March, competing and having fun each and every Monday. Some of the older ones have even volunteered to help out as coaches for the other age levels of our program, a huge gain in building the kind of culture and continuity we need to ascertain that the football at TYO continues on ad infinitum.

Today, we’ll have the intermediate age group out on the pitch; after a few weeks of trials and evaluations, they’re ready to fire away in official league play. Check out the photos below to get a better idea of the great things happening here!

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