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. While I expected that I would meet good people, I was not prepared for the great warmth and compassion of the staff at TYO. I learn something new each day from working alongside the incredible teachers here, and the support that the staff provide both for the children and each other is unlike anything I have experienced before. Daily experiences with the teachers, staff, and children, reveal more and more that it is the people, and their heart, that is driving this organisation.
Another reality of life in Nablus that I was under-prepared for is the endless, stunning, scenery. Again, before arriving in Palestine, I thought I had a good idea of what to expect from what I’d seen online and in books. I expected that the landscape would be beautiful, with the sun shining over rolling hills. But being able to sit in amongst these sun-kissed hills evokes particular emotions that you cannot feel when simply looking at a picture on Google Images. I sit here reflecting on my first two weeks on a balcony in the TYO building, which is set up in the hills, with the valley lying below. I moved here straight from the urban north of England, and being able to look out over miles of undulating hills simply takes my breath away.
As well as getting to know compassionate individuals, and admiring the beautiful hills of Palestine, there is also some time to sample the local cuisine. Whenever I go somewhere new, discovering the local delicacy often plays a big part in assessing how well I am going to fit in to my new surroundings. Considering I am vegetarian, and a staple here is falafel, we were off to a good start. Add to that copious amounts of hummus and yogurt, and you have one very happy vegetarian. The cherry on the top came during a visit to Nablus’ Old City, where we were introduced to knafeh; a delicious combination of melted cheese and syrup. The first time I tried this dish, I wasn’t quite sold. However, I have since tried it a few more times, and it is fast becoming a staple in my diet.
Inevitably, these first few weeks have involved a lot of learning, and adjusting to a new environment that can sometimes be overwhelming. Considering this, I could not be more excited to see what the next 2 months hold. I look forward to spending more time getting to know people, and learning from the incredible teachers here. I am eager to explore more; to walk in the hills, and float in the Dead Sea. And, of course, I look forward to another 2 months of a knafeh-based diet.
In the meantime, I think it is safe to say that we are off to a very good start, Nablus.
– Sally, Fall 2017 International Intern