2018: A Year of Hope

Suhad Jabi Masri is the Center Director of Tomorrow’s Youth Organization and has worked with the organization for ten years. She specializes in therapy for women who suffer from domestic abuse and traumatized children and families. Suhad holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from An Najah University, a Master of Arts in Art Therapy from European University in Switzerland, and a Master of Arts in Family Therapy from the University of Rochester in New York. As Center Director, she approaches TYO’s programs with the goal to empower people to realize their potential, broaden their thinking, and shape their own futures.

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Brewing Friendships

I don’t even know where to start. I have learnt and felt so much since being in Nablus, that summing it all up in a few simple words feels like an impossible task. So, I’m going to do it in the most British way I know how – through tea.

At home, tea is a focal point in many situations. When you visit a relative, there is an offer of tea. When you’re stressed at work, there is an offer of tea. Whether you’ve had a bad day, or are sharing good news, there is always the supportive response of, “Would you like some tea?” I didn’t realise just how embedded in me this ‘tea culture’ was until I arrived in Nablus.

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All the Good in Goodbye

As the internship draws to a close, it is time to reflect back on all of my experiences in Palestine. How can I possibly capture all of my thoughts, impressions and experiences inside a single blog post? The people of Palestine, my co-workers, students, and friends are all so incredibly warm and kind. The landscape of Palestine can only be described as breathtaking. My favorite past time had to be road trips between cities because it gave me a chance to look at the rolling valleys, the sprawling olive tree groves, and the mountains that cast their long shadows as the sun set.

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Random Acts of Kindness

There are many experiences that I could highlight as my time at TYO ends. I could talk about the joy of watching children discover their potential. I could talk about the teachers and the unfailing support they have given me. I could talk about local culture and opportunities I have had to witness how Nabulsis live, interact, and view the world. The common threads uniting all of these experiences, however, are the random acts of kindness that I have experienced since I arrived.

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Humans of Nablus 41

While working at TYO, I have learned that education depends on the community as a whole. Children need time and support from both their teachers and parents. They also need personalized activities. Some children are visual learners, some learn best through physical activity, and some learn best by listening. TYO provides children and the community with these valuable learning resources because they care about them.

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Winning More Than Just First Place

This session at TYO marked my first-time teaching 5th and 6th graders English, and with it the introduction to a huge group of students who seemed to have boundless enthusiasm and limitless amounts of energy. In the spirit of TYO, I looked for ways to redirect and focus this energy, rather than trying to suppress it and control it, and ended up introducing my favorite personal teaching style into the classroom: Competition.

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The Art of Making Mistakes

"There is no such thing as a mistake in art.” Even now, years later, I can still remember my elementary school art teacher encouraging me to embrace mistakes. She showed me how a misplaced line or extra paint splotch could become a new design. There is always a way to transform an accident into an opportunity. As a child pre-occupied with perfection, art gave me space to develop at my own pace. I enjoyed learning without worrying about making mistakes.

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What Lies Beyond My Comfort Zone

In three short weeks, the teachers, staff, and students at TYO have helped me to discover a new confidence that I did not know I had. That confidence has come to me through playing music. Whether singing for staff, learning to play the ukulele for children, drinking tea and playing music with the guard, or simply strumming a guitar on the balcony overlooking the valley, music has unlocked both the culture of Nablus and my own sense of identity and purpose.

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The Heart of Palestine

Before arriving in Palestine, I had read and heard many stories of the warmth of the people, and the beauty of its landscapes. I expected that I would be met with the friendly faces of the people working at TYO, and that I would enjoy taking in my new surroundings. I thought that these expectations put me in good stead for my 3 months here. Yet, after just two weeks of the internship, I am still often overwhelmed by the reality of my experiences in Nablus.

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Who Says Grey Isn't a Warm Color?

Before I had even formally arrived at the TYO building, I was introduced to the hospitality of Nablus. I arrived in the early hours of the morning when few reasonable people are awake, yet I was greeted by one of the school’s security guards when I drove through the gate. As I unloaded by bags and was led upstairs to my new home, it was explained to me that the guard had voluntarily stayed after his shift in order to welcome and greet the new intern for the session. This unbelievable thoughtful and kind gesture soon proved to be the rule, and not the exception for Nablus. 

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Giggles and Splashes

Growing up in Southern Illinois, swimming was a central part of summer activities. Each spring was spent in anticipation of the time when days would become warm enough to jump into water and play with friends. In this region of the United States, the high number of lakes, rivers, and ponds also make swimming skills necessary for safety. My parents made it their mission to ensure I participated in swim lessons from a young age.

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Singing and Dancing My Way Through Nablus

On my third day at TYO I spotted a guitar in the corner of an office. I could feel my heart beating faster with excitement as I asked if I could use the instrument and was delighted with the positive response. It was a small acoustic guitar that was perpetually out of tune, but simply having it brought me too much joy to care about the slightly off sound.

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From the TV Screen Straight to the Heart

Over the past two years, the term refugee has moved from humanitarian development circles into living rooms around the world as international crisis and crisis force men, women, and children to flee their homes for safety. From the flicker of the television screen and cultural, linguistic, political, and religious divides, it can be difficult to process the lives of those living as refugees. 

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Nablus: A Hidden Paradise

One of my favorite new Arabic words that I’ve learned in Nablus is bejannan. A local staff member at TYO translated this word to me as a descriptor for something so overwhelmingly beautiful that it incites madness in onlookers. When I think of Nablus, I think, “Bejannan.” There is so much beauty in this city— in its people, in its landscape, in the rich culture of Palestinians—and TYO will always hold a special place in my heart for giving me the opportunity to be here.

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