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    EFL Fellow Moh's class enjoys an activity.

    EFL Fellow Leandro leads his class.

    EFL Student Renad plays a game during EFL class.

    EFL students Adham and Saad perform a skit during EFL class.

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TYO’s Community Impact

Why is Usama Malik running 250 km/156 miles through the Sahara Desert?  To ensure the continued profound and positive impact of TYO on the communities it serves.  The stories of just one entrepreneur and one volunteer reveal the broad ripple effect of TYO’s programs on individuals, their families, and the community at large.

Nehaya, Restaurant Owner

Nehaya explains her restaurant to Ambassador Verveer and TYO Nablus Center Director Humaira Wakili

Take one of our FWEN program participants, Nehaya, as an example.  As a student at An-Najah University, she noticed that the students living far from their families craved home-cooked meals.  She came up with a solution–establish a restaurant to offer traditional Palestinian “comfort food,” rather than unhealthy  fast food.  The restaurant could offer take-out for students and catering for large parties and events.

Nehaya enrolled in the FWEN program, where she developed the business and leadership skills necessary to start her restaurant.  Her work with FWEN prepared her for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women project, a five-week Women’s Entrepreneurship Leadership certificate program at the American University in Cairo.

On March 26, 2011, Nehaya opened her restaurant and hired her mother and aunt as cooks.  With her restaurant, Nehaya is bringing home-cooked meals to the students of An-Najah, business opportunities to the women in her family, and inspiration to women entrepreneurs throughout Nablus.

Nehad, Volunteer and Fall Core Child Program Teacher

Nehad with a Core Child Program student

Nehad’s story provides another great example of TYO’s impact on the lives of our program participants.  She has been a volunteer with the Core Child Program for a year.  Every day that TYO is in session, Nehad leaves her village, Koforqadon, at 7 am to make the hour-long commute to our Nablus center.

Her work with the students in the Core Child Program has brought children like Ghizal out of their shells.  Moreover, Nehad reports that she herself has grown in confidence as a teacher and as an individual throughout her year with TYO.  Because of her dedication to her students and eagerness to learn, Nehad has grown into a talented early childhood teacher while volunteering at TYO.  TYO is excited to be bringing Nehad back to the Core Child Program as a teacher for the fall session.

All of TYO’s Core Child Program teachers, like Nehad, started working with TYO as volunteers.  The Youth Service Learning program includes both trainings and opportunities to cultivate hands-on teaching and mentoring experience.  As volunteers, TYO’s current core teachers cultivated a valuable set of teaching skills.  Now, TYO’s students reap the benefits of having strong, confident, talented teachers.

Help sustain and expand TYO’s community impact by getting involved in the Racing the Planet for TYO campaign!  From September 1-25, people across the globe will ADOPT, JOIN, and MOBILIZE the miles of Usama’s race.  Right now, start planning how you’ll help us raise $25k in 25 days!

Triple Exposure mural complete at Khadijia School, Nablus

The TYO mural class have completed the seventeenth Triple Exposure mural in Nablus. Across three visits to the school, mural teacher Rimah and her volunteers worked with the team of twelve students, ages ten to twelve, to finish this large mural on the external wall of the school for all to see.

Highlighting the importance of creative play as a part of a holistic education, the book in the centre reads ‘My right to play’. The book symbolizes learning and communication, and the sunset landscape, the undeniable beauty of Palestine.

mural at Khadijia School

unexpected visitors

mural complete!

Making Friends

As a way to end the summer session, Samin and I combined our classes together to discuss the friendships we’ve made at TYO. We began by playing a video story of the popular and beloved book, The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein. As the video played, we stopped periodically for translation from our translators Yazid and Refiq. Samin and I were amazed at how much the children enjoyed the story!

Afterward, we led a discussion about the story and its meaning. One student said, “the boy kept using the tree until it was naked”. Another said that a friendship shouldn’t be like that. Instead, it should be about equal giving and taking from both sides. Samin and I were so impressed by how engaged the children were throughout the story and what conclusions they were able to draw from it.

We asked if anyone had made a new friend this session and they all raised their hands “Ah! Ah!”. They had made friends from other neighborhoods and refugee camps. To remember the new friends we made, all of our students made friendship bracelets to exchange with one another. And the next day at the pool, we spotted all of our students still wearing their friendship bracelets, showing us with pride.

As our last days are coming to an end, I had a chance to think about all of the friends I have made during my time here as an intern. Women like Jenan, Lina, Hanin, and Raja, students like Layal, Safa, Qais, and Maha, and volunteers like Doha, Zaki, and Yazid and Tamam. I’ve also made friends at Hajjawi, Cinema City, and the juice shop, some of our favorite places in Nablus. The greatest gift I received during my time here is the opportunity to call these Palestinians my friends.

-Tala

Tala is a summer intern at TYO Nablus. 

The Hour of Separation

It seems only yesterday I arrived to Nablus, yet the last three months have given me a lifetimes worth of fulfillment. Today being the final day of our summer session classes was very sentimental, as I said my goodbyes to students, aerobics moms, volunteers and translators.  An infinite amount of hugs from my students and moms would still not have been enough, and the countless number of gifts I received will be keepsakes that I will hold on to forever.

There is not much left to say besides that the people of Nablus have been incredibly welcoming, and their kindness and warmth will never been forgotten. My experience here has far surpassed what I had ever imagined, and for that I am eternally grateful to TYO and all those associated with it. Farewell my beloved, Palestine. I’ll be seeing you again soon, inshallah.

And ever has it been known that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation. -Kahlil Gibran

– Samin
Samin is a summer intern at TYO Nablus.

What’s Right About Being Wrong

It was a good week for my Creative Thinking class. Once an idealistic brainchild led by two terrified first-time TYO teachers, the pilot class is really starting to come into its own.

Heading into the class eight weeks ago, one of my major goals was to convince our kids that sometimes, it’s totally fine to be wrong. Getting the right answer isn’t always the point; it’s the process of reasoning  that refines our logic and molds us into lean, mean critical thinking machines. Being wrong about things is what makes us human – it’s the proverbial hand on the stove top or super hot pepper that your brother dared you to eat. It might not be your proudest moment, but being wrong is what makes us grow.

To that end, I assigned a class project for which being right was victorious and being wrong was hilarious. The kids were each given a water balloon and told that in half an hour, we were dropping it off the roof. Their assignment was to create a protective barrier to prevent the balloon from breaking from the collision.

After a solid three minutes of staring at their balloons and fighting every ounce of kid instinct telling them to forget the project throw it directly at their teacher, they got to work. What resulted was nothing short of a miracle. There were no squabbles over materials, no moments of frustration, no asking for the answers – just good old fashioned hard work. They squinted their eyes and pursed their lips as they taped pieces of cushion and foam and newspaper around their fragile balloons. A half hour later, it was show time.

Only four kids out of two classes successfully protected their balloons from utter destruction, but it didn’t seem to matter. They laughed as volunteer Imad counted down from three before he released each kid’s creation. They laughed even harder when the balloons exploded all over me and my translator, Jamila. They smiled and shrugged when I held up the popped balloons with a grin, and four of them jumped up and down and hi-fived their friends while raising an dry, intact bundle triumphantly over their heads.

When we got back to the room, we asked if they’d had fun. The answer was a resounding “Ah! Ah! Ah!” (kid translation: yes, we did.) The activity wasn’t about being right – it was about learning that sometimes failure is okay. Especially if it soaks your teacher with a water balloon.

Volunteer Spotlight: Nehad Omer

My name is Nehad Omer, and I have been a Core Program morning volunteer for a year.

After I graduated with a sociology degree from An Najah University, I searched for various job openings and volunteer positions. I came across TYO, but was wary about applying because I assumed it would be very difficult to work with children from severely disadvantaged homes. Thankfully, I swallowed my fear and applied.

Since then, I have worked as a volunteer for a variety of classes, ranging from sports to concentration techniques. It was initially very difficult to break out of my own shell, but I soon realized that it was necessary. I could not be helpful if I was shyer than the children! In the past year, I have seen both myself and the children come a long way.

For example, Ghizal, a Core Program child, spent weeks running out of TYO because she was shy and did not feel comfortable around so many other active (and sometimes loud) children. Over time, however, I have learned how to make her comfortable. When she becomes overwhelmed, it calms her anxieties to draw or color by herself. Instead of running outside of the building, she now comes to me and asks if she can spend a few minutes drawing alone. I have noticed her become happier, less afraid, and engage more with the other children in just the past few days. I am excited to see how much she will break out of her shell by the end of this session and am grateful that I am part of why she is happier.

Girls like Ghizal are why I make the one-hour commute from Koforqadon village to Nablus every morning at 7 am. My parents and nine siblings have always encouraged me to go out and volunteer (perhaps because I am the middle child), and have commented on my increased self-confidence since I started with TYO last year.

– Nehad

Personal story as told to Shahla

Triple Exposure murals complete in Askar boys’ school

Triple Exposure mural teacher Rimah and her volunteers went to visit the boys’ school in Askar UNRWA refugee camp, Nablus. Over two visits she worked with fifteen boys, ages 10-11 on two murals in the hallways of the school. Whilst representing the themes of nature and school, these murals have a more kaleidoscopic feel to them, with unexpected colours inside the branches and leaves of the tree, really bringing an extra splash of colour to the walls of Askar.

Like many schools in the West Bank, the school doesn’t have an art teacher or art department, and these were the first murals ever in the school. Even the teachers were interested in how the different colours were mixed and applied. The director of the school liked the mural so much he has asked Rimah to come back and do one more any time.

After they had finished the murals, the boys wanted to go home and show their parents they had been working with paint, and thoroughly enjoyed drawing moustaches on each other. The boys showed so much talent and dedication, seeing the project through to completion with admirable focus. If they had an art teacher or more opportunities to practice, the kids could really work on their art skills and creative thinking, on top of making these vibrant and lasting contributions to their community.

To date, Triple Exposure has complete fifteen murals around Nablus. For more details, please see the Triple Exposure blog.