Youth in Focus: An Interview with Salah

Salah is a 24 year-old volunteer with TYO's Core Child Program and was born and raised in Balata Camp in Nablus. Salah comes from a family that believes strongly in the importance of education and they see education as the only way to fight against a life within the refugee camps.  All of his siblings have attended university and he is currently in his last year at Al Quds Open University studying economics. Salah was also the recipient of the TYO Scholarship in 2013.  TYO interviewed Salah about his connection to TYO, what his hopes are for his future career, and the obstacles he faces in reaching these goals. TYO Volunteer Salah helps some Summer Camp 2015 participants with an art activity.

How did you first hear about TYO and why did you join as a volunteer?

I first joined TYO after hearing about it from a friend that used to also volunteer with TYO. At first I was a little nervous because I had never done anything like this before, but I applied in 2011 because I felt that volunteering would be something good for me to do while also studying at university.  In the camps, there really aren't opportunities for volunteering and community service but it's something I've always been interested in.

What do you hope to do as a career and how do you think this will help you?

My dream career is to work in a company or a bank using my university specialty in economics.  Volunteering with TYO has really helped me in so many ways for my future career and in my personal growth.  Through TYO I learned time-management skills and learned to recognize my strengths and weaknesses in various training TYO put on for us. I also learned the valuable skill of leadership through observing teachers in the classroom and having teachers give me various opportunities to lead the class myself.  I also learned patience in the classroom and I see this as important in my future career when I will be working with a team. Net-working was another important skill TYO taught me and I learned how to develop great relationships with people both inside and outside of TYO.

What is the greatest challenge for youth like you in the current labor market?

At university we really aren't mentored or given good advice on careers.  We often study whatever they encourage us to study without really seeing the benefits of our major in the job market.  Some students are even encouraged to study something they aren't very passionate about and this leads to poor grades and disinterest in that subject.  I also saw a challenge in applying our knowledge to hands-on experiences since there are so few internship and volunteer opportunities for university students.  TYO gave me that opportunity to further my skills and increase my self-confidence while volunteering with the Core Child Program.

What do you think your generation can do to overcome that challenge?  

I think it would really help to have more places we can volunteer and intern to strengthen our skills in our chosen major or specialty in university.  There are a few opportunities available, but the competition is fierce and many people apply with only one position open. What makes it even more challenging is the timing of these internships as they are very strict with scheduling at the university and at the internship.  They aren't always flexible and understanding of a student's class schedule.

If there was one skill you wish you had, what would it be and why?

I'd really like to strengthen my use of the English language.  School classes use memorization techniques and this isn't the best way to learn the language.  I'd prefer a more intensive language course that would help me get a better handle on English.  I'd also like stronger skills in internet research as that's an area that we all need to succeed in this day and age.

-TYO Volunteer Salah interviewed by Outreach Coordinator Futoon Qadri and IIFC Emma Stensvaag