It is easy for recollections of a place to fade almost as soon as your feet leave its soil. Indeed, as I adjusted back to life in mainland Europe, the problems and accuracy of past events begin to be dominated by new people, fresh adventures and daily quandaries. Unfortunately, my abysmal level of Arabic also returned to its original non-existent state.
Of course, there are some elements which I could not forget even with distance and time. The children, teens and adults with whom I worked left a marked impression on me; their smiles, sadness and frustrations were all part of our time together in the classroom and on the football pitch. Despite the many great experiences, I had during my first internship, it is the people that I met here that I remember most fondly.
I think this explains why, as we drove to Nablus after an excessively long journey from Dublin, it felt like I was returning home again. The prospect of continuing friendships beyond a laptop screen, exploring the rolling landscape and forging new memories was exciting and inviting. And reuniting with the staff and volunteers of TYO did not disappoint. There were new stories of motherhood, engagements and summer adventures in the three months that I had been gone. It was great to reacquaint and hear updates from everyone, to smile and laugh and to see familiar faces. There is a sense of community here that is similar to my village at home; a diversity in personalities but a collective mentality and sense of unity.
However, there was not much time chit chat. The hustle and bustle at the center was indicative of the Fall session already being underway as women conversed on their way to class and children ran through the corridors while volunteers attempted to catch them. The return of the sonorous swell of everyday life at TYO has been like music to my ears, the positivity and excitement palpable in the air for the upcoming activities. Seeing local people engaged in TYO and the work that we do is such a satisfying feeling, that we are facilitating personal growth and learning despite the difficult living conditions here.
And although I must leave TYO this week, much sooner than I had hoped or anticipated, I am thankful for my short time here. In my final blog of the Spring session in May, I felt a deep sense of sadness to be leaving the organisation and those I met while here. I imagined that I would not see many, if any, of those with whom I worked again once we drove out the front gates. However, unexpectedly I returned not even four months later, straight back into the madness. This time, saying goodbye to the organisation, I feel both disappointed and hopeful; dissatisfied at being unable to stay in Nablus but hopeful that TYO will continue to grow, teach and empower those who come through the doors. I cannot say when I will be in TYO again after I leave on Wednesday but this time I am sure that it won’t be the last time I pass through those green front gates. Until next time Nablus!
– Niamh, Fall 2017 International Intern