SOW National Team: Trip Compendium

From the Students of the World blog:

It has been almost four weeks, and it still feels like yesterday we were anticipating what this experience would be like. As Jackie’s fortune cookie foretold the night before our departure; “Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter.” The days have fused into a collection of memories and revelations, each of us taking different detours on the road we’ve traveled together. Sometimes leading us to different surprises, highlights, and stories to share. Here is a concise exploration of our thoughts looking back on our experience, bittersweet nostalgia on the day we leave.  -Andrea

Over the course of the next week, TYO will post to this blog many of the SOW National Team’s reflections. It was an absolute pleasure hosting them in Nablus the last four weeks. We will miss dearly their passion, energy and commitment to their work. Thank you for sharing your talents with us.

SOW Team Journal: Ahlan wa Sahlan, Ahlan Beek

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We have been welcomed at TYO for three weeks now and are starting to feel the warm fuzzy feeling of home that so many of our interviewees have described.  It’s not the delicious food, or the cozy surroundings, but the many people we have met that have opened their hearts to our presence, welcoming us without question.

I can speak for all of us when I say that we are truly amazed by the extreme generosity, patience, and kindness of everyone here.  Whether it was the grocer who carefully helped us bag and carry our items, making sure to call our driver when we had accidentally left a few bags, or the man on the street that bought our team fruit cocktails as we were filming his family, or the tailor who fixed our pants and gave us an extra pair free of charge, the list goes on.

Not to mention the patience of the volunteers, interns, and staff members we have interviewed that have shared their thoughts, their passions, their hopes, openly and honestly.  I think Luai, a volunteer at TYO, said it best of why he has continued to come back to TYO each year, “These people are my family, we learn to trust each other, to love each other, no matter what their background.”

As a documentary team, I had thought that it was a careful boundary to bring cameras and ask so much of strangers, especially across language and cultural barriers. I had thought it might be invasive if we didn’t ask permission. I had thought I would at least be questioned of my presence, but maybe this is a quality instilled by my “stranger danger” upbringing.  It seems as if everyone we’ve met has given us the trust and care that every human desires. It is incredibly refreshing.

TYO has created this wonderful community of love and openness that I only hope to see duplicated everywhere. Everyday I am amazed at how intertwined TYO is within the community.  We have already met so many people affected by the work being done, all priding the power of trust and active involvement in creating a healthy community.  It is beautiful to see an organization built for and by community members. I look forward to the many more people we’ll meet and the sights we’ll see. Thank you to all who have welcomed us! We are honored.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”

-Margaret Mead

Words by Sarah Osman, Photographs by Andrea Patino

Welcome SOW National Team!

TYO is delighted to welcome back to its Nablus Center members of Students of the World. This June, the SOW National Team will be in Nablus documenting TYO’s programs and activities.

Welcome back, friends!

Andrea Patiño – Photographer. A native from Bogota, Colombia, Andrea Patiño is in her third year at Duke University majoring in Cultural Anthropology. She has been engaged in documentary photography for about a year now and is very passionate about it. While photography—especially photographing others—is an activity that poses a lot of questions, particularly about ethics, Andrea thinks that this medium is one of the best ways to tell a story.

Jackie Turner – Filmmaker. Jackie Turner is in her third year at the University of Michigan, majoring in Program in the Environment and Screen Arts and Cultures and looking towards a career in environmental and social documentary.  At U of M, Jackie is an executive producer and board member of M-agination Films, a student-run production organization focused on helping connect students from all disciplines who want to make films with the resources to do so.  She has produced short documentary films about her previous travels to Guatemala, Kenya and Costa Rica.

Madeline Lewis – Development Coordinator. Madeline Lewis is a third year Foreign Affairs major at the University of Virginia’s Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics. She has a passion for anything international and is excited about her position on the 2011 SOW National team as the Development Coordinator. Born and raised in Dallas, Madeline’s love for traveling led her to Charlottesville for college, where she has immersed herself in hiking adventures and the history surrounding her college town.

Sarah Osman – Journalist. Sarah Osman is a senior at the University of Michigan majoring in English and Communications. She is originally from New Jersey but her home is now in Commerce, MI.  She enjoys writing and creating concepts for LEAD Magazine as the Creative Director.

Kate Simpson – Producer. Kate is a senior majoring in philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. Through riding in a charity bicycle tour across North America, Kate discovered her love of nonprofits and hopes to someday have a career in that field. She is excited to be a part of Students of the World because it will allow her to follow her passion for serving others, challenge her boundaries, and to further explore the world.

Jon Kasbe – Assistant Filmmaker. Jon is a curious filmmaker at UNC-Chapel Hill majoring in media production. Last semester, Jon worked with The Daily Tar Heel creating online videos for the multimedia page. Jon is currently freelancing as a multimedia journalist for Reese Felts Digital News, an innovative digital news publication. Jon is also the director of photography for the one-hour drama “Above The Fold,” a scripted student web/TV show.

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.

TYO in Sin City!

What a thrill – over 3,000 people took part in a magnificent evening showcasing Arab music and culture in Las Vegas tonight, thanks to Dawn Elder World Entertainment and host, MGM Grand. The evening was coordinated in honor of International Children’s Day, and designed in the service of Arab children worldwide. Read more in our last post here.

I might be partial, but the most exciting part of this event was a 90-second highlight of TYO as an example of the type of work to be supported by the initiative. A huge thanks to TYO partner, Students of the World, for their help getting the video together in time! We are also grateful to the Public Affairs Office at the US Consulate in Jerusalem for their support of the documentary project through their Small Grant Program.

Check it out – TYO kids, staff and volunteers LIVE IN VEGAS!!

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New York Chapter of Students of the World Produces Video on TYO

During the past summer, the New York chapter of Students of the World filmed TYO’s summer programs in action. The result of their work is the video below, which was screened at the Clinton Global Initiative in September for hundreds of influential donors, practitioners and policy makers from various sectors of work globally.

We are grateful to Students of the World, as well as the Public Affairs Office at the US Consulate in Jerusalem for their support of this project through their Small Grant Program.

Clinton Global Initiative 2009

I’ve just arrived in New York for the Fifth Annual Clinton Global Initiative, TYO’s second CGI conference. Although the events don’t officially begin until Tuesday afternoon, the buzz is already tangible! The UN General Assembly also opens tomorrow, so the city is officially overflowing with official visitors.

In its fifth year, CGI seems to be making a lot of changes for the better, toward a greater focus on concrete action and feasible commitments rather than high-profile talking sessions. We are extremely excited for this year’s Action Networks on Investing in Girls and Empowering Women, both topics that are so essential to TYO’s work. They also provide an ideal platform to announce an exciting new project that we have made our Commitment to Action for 2009. Keep your eyes out for full details here in the coming days…

Another highlight of CGI 2009 for TYO will be the broadcast of the video produced by the New York Students of the World team in Nablus in June 2009. We will also post the video here as soon as its available on the web!

Finally, an important aspect of CGI is always the networking: taking advantage of the knowledge and willingness of CGI staff to help members (philanthropists, practitioners, and private sector representatives) connect with each other according to their shared passions and complementary resources. President Obama has confirmed his attendance at Tuesday afternoon’s plenary, which should set an extremely positive tone for the event.

I’ll be tweeting as much as I can about the event and the working sessions – follow along and let me know what you think along the way: http://twitter.com/tomorrowsyouth .

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