Masarah Kana’an was born and raised in Nablus. She studied Early Childhood Education at Al Rawda College until her graduation in 2014. Masarah has been active with TYO since February 2016 as both a student in the STEP! II EFL Program and as a volunteer with the Youth Service Learning Program. tAlways eager to help others, Masarah began volunteering with the Core Child Program because she wants to help educate and help children to grow in a positive atmosphere within the Nablus community.
What has your professional experience been like outside of TYO?
While I was studying at Al Rawda College, I trained at 4 kindergartens to help me to learn how to teach young children. I trained at a kindergarten on my university’s campus for 1 year as part of the early childhood education curriculum where we taught to use play as a tool for teaching young students. I also observed at two kindergartens to learn teaching methods and was employed for a short time at a fourth kindergarten. The job at the kindergarten did not work out and while I was looking for more work, I wanted to find an opportunity to continue working with young students in a classroom. It was at this time I began to volunteer at TYO.
What is your career plan?
Growing up, I was always good at English and I wanted to get an English degree, but my tawjihi (graduation exam) test score did not allow me to study English. I always wanted to be a teacher and I love children. Instead of teaching English, I decided to study early childhood education so I can teach at a kindergarten. I chose early childhood education because young children may not have someone to show them affection or to care for them. I want to show the students that someone cares about them.
When I was in kindergarten, my teachers were great and showed me love and affection. It was more than only learning numbers and letters. As kindergarten teachers, the adults are also working to help raise children to be good people. There are no counselors in the class to help children who are emotionally troubled, so the teacher must be prepared to help. If a child has any problems, the teacher will help solve those problems. I still go to visit my kindergarten teachers because they made such a good impression on my life.
What do you look for in a work environment?
The most important thing about a work environment is to feel comfortable, so the atmosphere must be warm and the staff and volunteers must be like a family and work together toward a common goal.
Within the classroom, some important things that need to be available are good lighting, good air, and big areas for playing and running. There must be games that will help develop students’ thinking abilities. Children are very smart and they need games to improve their mental capacity. Adults must help the space feel safe by showing the children comfort and care so the children will love the classroom and feel as if they are at home.
What skills have you gained from your time with TYO so far?
One of the most important skills I have learned at TYO so far is patience. I have become a more patient person and have learned to be calm and control my emotions. I have learned that there are many kind people in the world. I have worked with three teachers and they have each helped me to learn a new skill. I have learned how to balance my affection for children and maintaining control in a classroom in a mindful way, how to control my emotions and express feelings in a good way, and how to be more positive. I have learned how showing appreciation for someone helps others to feel good.
How has TYO impacted your professional life?
I have gained the experience I need to work at a kindergarten and manage a classroom. TYO has widened my contacts and helped me to make new friends. The community to which I belong has grown and I feel more connected to people in the neighborhood. I have learned I am most happy when engaging with children and feel their happiness. My confidence has improved and my self esteem has grown. All of these things will help me to lead a wonderful classroom in the future.
I love everyone at TYO and it is as if TYO is my home. I feel so much appreciation and respect and I am grateful for everyone. I see everyone here as my family and we’re all brothers and sisters. I suggest everyone come to TYO because their lives will change for the better.
Masarah is a volunteer with the Youth Service Learning program, which is part of STEP! II, a youth employability, empowerment, and community leadership initiative supported by Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation.
Interview conducted by Lindsey, the International Internship and Fellowship Coordinator, and translated by Rawan, the Women’s Empowerment Program Assistant.