Photo of the Day: Resting Pre-Marathon

This afternoon, TYO held a mini-marathon with obstacles and, of course, prizes for the children! Here is a picture of some children resting before the run.


Monday Field Day at El-Ein Refugee Camp

Last Monday TYO spent its weekly field visit in the Hamdi Manko Center, a large, open space near El-Ein refugee camp. We were greeted by fifty excited children, some who were familiar with TYO and some who were new to our program. Ahmad, a current TYO Core Program participant, introduced each and every single one of our staff members to his friends. We were ecstatic to see that Ahmad had relationships with not just one or two, but was close to each one of us. We fell in love with TYO all over again, understanding that it is a center built on meaningful connections between our staff members, volunteers, and, of course, children.

Despite growing up in difficult circumstances, we found that even the new children opened up to us quickly. Haitham, one of our wonderful Core Teachers, had students stand in a circle and introduce themselves differently. One of the boys, Mohammad, introduced himself as Hammodah, the loving nickname his mother has for him.

We played together for hours and, eventually, ended our day with one of our favorite TYO games: parachute!

– Ala

Ala is a Core Program Teacher at TYO Nablus.

The Hills: Rawabi

Until yesterday, my keys to the TYO Center floated precariously loose in my purse. Luckily, our trip to Rawabi yielded not only a nice new keychain bearing the municipality’s insignia, but also some fantastic views and the encompassing warmth of promise and hope.

Rawabi is the first planned Palestinian city and an absolutely enormous undertaking for the Palestinian people. Set in the rolling landscape between Nablus, Jerusalem and Ramallah, Rawabi is literally translated to “hills” in English. The city is initially intended to provide affordable housing to 25,000 Palestinian families, with an eventual aim of 40,000 permanent residents.

I was lucky enough to sit with Nisreen, the Executive Director of the Rawabi Foundation, as we settled into a spot on the city’s highest point for beautiful views and a-maz-ing tapas and juice. Nisreen had mentioned a plan to build a cultural center, museum, and outdoor amphitheater in a central location in the hopes of creating a cultural hub in the West Bank. Indeed, creating a sense of cultural pride can frequently boost a city’s identity beyond just an incidental collection of commercial and residential buildings. From years of jumping back and forth from northern Ohio to Los Angeles, I can attest to the importance of a Greek theater or Pro Football Hall of Fame to a city’s unique character. Even the – eccentric, we’ll call them – street artists on the Venice beach boardwalk create a sense of cultural pride.

Nisreen and her team are spot-on with this one. As we gazed onto the hill that would eventually pulse with Palestinian music, art, and history, the TYO team had a moment of collective awe at the possibilities literally sprawled out before our eyes. Part of our goal here at TYO is to encourage kids to nurture their creative instinct – to appreciate their potential for self expression. Sitting on that hill with the dedicated team of the Rawabi Foundation, I couldn’t help picturing Leen curating an art exhibit, or Nirmin adjusting the lighting scheme for a visiting string quartet. Maybe Ayman will coach a youth soccer team in the Rawabi public park.

Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. But it’s nice to imagine that the same kids who walk through our classroom doors every day will soon have a major cultural outlet only 25 kilometers away. And in the meantime, check out Alex’s chalkboard-wall hybrid, Tala’s floor, or Samin’s sing-alongs for a sample of the kids’ creative efforts.


Amy is a summer intern at TYO Nablus.

Intern Journal: Charades

Maha reaches into the bowl and picks up a single sheet of folded paper reading, “A fish / سمكة“. The two of us giggle as we look at each other, both wondering how she’ll act it out. After thinking it over for a couple of seconds, she acts out a swimming stroke and makes an adorable fish face, pursing her lips. The entire classroom jumps up and down, including my over enthusiastic volunteers, screaming out the answer and waving their hands in front of my face. I make the judgement call as to who guessed first and give the points accordingly.

My kids love charades. If I didn’t cut them off, I’m sure they would be satisfied with an entire class dedicated to charades alone! For the past two weeks, I have been using it as a simple warm-up activity for my Arts and Crafts class, and I’ve found that it’s one of few classroom games that consistently keeps all of my students engaged and excited throughout its entirety. It’s easy, it doesn’t require any supplies, there are no “outs”, there are no losers, and everyone gets a turn. But most importantly, it gives my kids a chance to express themselves creatively in front of their peers. Even the shy and more reserved students are eager to play and act, exhibiting brief moments of self-confidence that I rarely see in my classroom. 

Okay so who’s next?” I ask. “Me! Me! Ana! Ana!” the kids (and volunteers) shout gleefully. By the way they reacted to the game ending last week, I don’t think they’ll get tired of charades any time soon. Throughout the session, I will continue to encourage them to stand at the front of the class to act and share with their peers. I look forward to seeing their personalities flourish!

– Tala

Tala is a summer intern at TYO Nablus.