Action Now for a Better Tomorrow


Yara Ramahi is one of the newest team members to join TYO as supervisor for the Academic Intervention and School Drop-Out Prevention program, a new TYO program made possible with the support of the Qatar Fund for Development. She is from Nablus and studied business administration at Al-Quds Open University.

What is the new program with which you are working?

With the generous support of the Qatar Fund for Development, TYO is implementing a new program called Academic Intervention and School Drop-Out Prevention. It is a program to help academically support students in refugee camps located within Nablus. Students are challenged throughout their high school years. In Palestine, 11th and 12th grade students must choose an academic course of study that prepares them for a single major in University. The Academic Intervention and School Drop-Out Prevention program’s goal is to ease the academic struggle and decrease the drop-out rate by providing focused academic assistance and support for individual student needs.

The program will take place in UNRWA schools inside Old and New Askar, Balata, and Ein refugee camps in Nablus during the evenings and on Saturdays. A highly qualified team of 15 teachers and 45 volunteers will tutor 11th and 12th grade students in the subjects in which the need the most support. Every teacher will work with 5 volunteers with the same specialty to provide the best assistance for students. Students will also be eligible for an academic scholarship, which will allow them to attend a local university. When students are provided support and given tools they need to succeed, they will be empowered to improve their academic scores and have more opportunities available to them as they attend university.

How is this program unique within the Nablus community?

This At-Risk Youth and School Drop-Out Prevention program is unique because it offers assistance to students free of charge. The cost of tutoring can be a challenge for families, especially given the high unemployment rate within Palestine. By providing academic assistance and support inside the refugee camps without a fee, the financial barrier to additional educational services is no longer an issue for refugee families.

What would you say to students to encourage them to join the program?

I know high school can be a difficult time as you transition from childhood into adulthood. The actions and decisions you make now will impact the rest of your life. So for students who are struggling with school and want extra support and assistance, we are here for you. Participating in the Academic Intervention and School Drop-Out Prevention program is a great opportunity to develop the skills needed to finish high school and have choices of study at university. We want to help you grow and develop in a supportive and safe environment, and encourage you to reach your full potential. We believe in you, and want you to believe in yourself.


The Academic Intervention and Drop-Our Prevention Program is supported by Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD).

– Interview conducted by Tallin, Fall 2017 International Intern.

How to Build Dreams into Reality


A native of Nablus, Hend Jarrar is the program manager of the new Youth Rehabilitation through Entrepreneurship program. She is the recipient of a BA in Business Administration from the University of Jordan and a MBA in Business Administration from An-Najah National University.

What is the new program with which you are working?

With the support of the Qatar Fund for Development, TYO is pleased to introduce the Youth Rehabilitation through Entrepreneurship Program. According to the Palestinian Center for Bureau of Statistics, 51% of college graduates were unemployed at the beginning of 2016. TYO’s new Youth Rehabilitation through Entrepreneurship program was created to address the high percentage of unemployed youth in Nablus by targeting recent graduates ages 20-30 with new entrepreneurial ideas or with businesses that need help in their development. Training for the Youth Rehabilitation through Entrepreneurship program will cover managerial subjects including financial and strategic planning, creating a work plan and business plan, and bookkeeping. The program will also address other important skills such as English, computer skills, and pitching skills.

Since the program is designed build a community of young entrepreneurs, there will be a lot of networking during the courses. There will also be a mentorship phase during which participants of the program will be matched with successful businessperson to help develop idea and skills. By focusing on the needs of the participants and the skills of the mentors, each student will have an expert to help train and support their business’ growth.

What was the purpose of establishing this program?

Due to the economic situation, self-employment is important for the future of youth in Palestine. Youth want to work, but there are not enough jobs available in the work force. People need to create their own businesses to employ themselves. When these businesses are successful, this will open opportunities for others to have jobs and be inspired to create their own businesses. Entrepreneurship helps people be more self-reliant and proactive. If people can be self-employed, it will increase the quality of their lives and the lives of people around them.

For many graduates, the expected path is to finish university and obtain employment. When the traditional path doesn’t work out and they struggle with unemployment, the lack of exposure to new, innovative ways to create self-employment by developing business limits their thinking and choices. For youth who have great ideas and the desire to create a business, we are here to help them reach beyond the expected path and begin a journey of personal achievement and success.

What are some key elements that make this program special?

The Youth Rehabilitation through Entrepreneurship program is customized according to the participants’ ideas. Trainings and mentorships will be similar to coaching and cater to the specific needs and goals of participants, allowing them to develop skills to grow their ideas into a reality and overcome potential obstacles. The trainers and mentors are experienced in many different facets of business and can give specialized advice and expertise. With the assistance of these seasoned business experts, students will learn how previous businesses in similar fields have failed and avoid making the same mistakes.

In addition to the specialized coaching, this program will extend beyond the city of Nablus and reach throughout northern Palestine. Participants will be trained and coached in Nablus, but will be given support as they return to their cities and villages to implement their ideas and create their business in their hometowns. This approach allows for growth of the economy and job market in northern Palestinian and widens support and network of young Palestinian entrepreneurs.

As part of the program, what type of training will be offered?  

There will be psychosocial training, business development, a business IT course, an English language program, and financial literacy. All of these trainings are important because they are work together. If you learn how to do financial planning but don’t have the skill or the ability to stand in front of an investor and persuade him about your project and your idea, the business won’t have support necessary to be successful. In addition to public speaking skills, it takes confidence to pitch an idea to an investor. This confidence will be developed during the psychosocial training. The IT and English courses are important because entrepreneurs need IT and English skills to communicate ideas internationally in a language people can understand. Computer skills are vital for using tools like PowerPoint and creating presentations and to advertise the business.  All the aspects of this training program are very important and integrated. You can’t empower someone in only one area of business and expect them to succeed in the business world. We want to provide a holistic approach so that all our participants have success.

What would you say to someone considering joining the program?

I would encourage anyone who has a feasible business idea to apply to join the program. By completing an application and advocating for themselves, applicants demonstrate how serious they are about taking their idea and creating a business. The business concept should be feasible and potential entrepreneurs should be passionate, motivated, determined, and serious about improving themselves. Don’t get discouraged if your idea hasn’t taken off yet. Keep trying and be persistent. We are looking to share the wealth of knowledge with all of the most ambitious participants. Take the first step and apply to join us!

If you were not able to join us for the first session, we have great news for you! We are fortunate that with the support of QFFD, the Youth Rehabilitation through Entrepreneurship program will continue for several years. Keep watching the TYO Facebook page to find out when we open the next recruitment period!

What are you looking forward to the most in the upcoming program?

I am excited to see participants’ growth throughout the program and watch as their ideas become real businesses. My dream is to see participants using the tools gained during the program to create their own established businesses that support themselves, their families, and future employees. We are excited to help youth chase their dreams and change their lives and the lives of those around them.


The Youth Rehabilitation through Entrepreneurship Program is supported by Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD).

– Interview conducted by Tallin, Fall 2017 International Intern.

Working with Women for a Brighter Future


Nesreen Hajaj is the coordinator for TYO’s new Women’s Empowerment and Parenting Program, made possible by Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD). Nesreen worked in Yafa Cultural Center in Balata refugee camp for 8 years providing mental health and counselling services for residents of the camp. She also volunteered as a social worker for the YMCA in Nablus for 4 years. Nesreen learned of TYO’s multi-generational and holistic approach toward empowerment and joined the TYO team to lead programs that work with mothers and the children at the same time. She is eager to see the impact the Women’s Empowerment and Parenting Program will impact mothers, their children, and their families in the future.

What is the new program with which you are working?

The new program is called the Women’s Empowerment and Parenting Program. TYO has been working with the mothers of children at TYO for years, but there was often a large number of women who wanted to join but couldn’t because they had children of a younger age who couldn’t be left for them to come to classes. With the support of QFFD, the new Women’s Empowerment and Parenting program has been created to meet the needs of mothers who have younger children that they want to bring with them to TYO. The Early Childhood Education Program has been created to support the development of these young children while the Women’s Empowerment and Parenting Program targets their mothers. TYO believes in a holistic approach and will be leading seminars and workshops for the mothers relating to parenting and how they can empower themselves in order to empower their children. Thanks to QFFD’s support, TYO has been able to create and implement a program that will allow women to focus on how they can improve themselves to also improve their relationship with their children with a focus on their psychosocial wellbeing and health.

What was the purpose of establishing this program at TYO?

The main purpose of this program is to work on the wellbeing of the mothers, as the mother has a great impact on her children. We aim to teach the mother how to work on herself to positively impact upon her family. We also seek to create a stronger relationship between the mother and child by working with the mothers and children at the same time to target the family as a whole. The program will teach the mother more about her child and herself, helping her to understand how she can create a strong family unit. For example, mothers will learn how they can handle discipline in the home in a proper manner and encourage them to think more deeply about how to manage their children’s behavior.

TYO always strives to work with the parents as well as the kids because you cannot work on improving the children’s behavior and expect the growth to continue by sending them back to an environment that doesn’t reflect the same positive change. The support of QFFD has allowed TYO to expand its services, delivering the Women’s Empowerment and Parenting Program in tandem with the new Early Childhood Education Program: For Children Ages 2-8. The material the young children will be learning throughout their program will also be the basis for what the mothers will be studying. This will help them to connect, grow together, and strengthen their relationship. The mother will also be able to use these skills with other children at home, as she will be able to better handle and improve her relationship with them.

What is the expected impact in the wider community?

We are a social community; one that likes to talk. The mothers who are part of the Women’s Empowerment and Parenting Program will tell their friends and other mothers in the community what they are learning at TYO. We are working with 160 women and while we can’t directly target the community as a whole, we hope that the knowledge shared in this informal manner will slowly reach the wider community.

When the younger children grow up, they will be going to school and the impact of TYO programs have had on their lives will be evident through their positive behavior. Other children at school, who may not have had the same exposure to TYO programs, will now be exposed to this positive behavior and can learn from it.

How is this program unique, compared to other programs in Nablus?

In the north of Palestine, there aren’t many NGOs that are working directly with mothers to positively impact their wellbeing and family relationships. It is important to empower these women by providing them with the information and tools to discover how they themselves are very strong women. Through this process of self-discovery and self-empowerment, a positive impact is anticipated for their children.

Second, many women we work with are from disadvantaged areas in Palestine and face trauma in their lives. Being in a safe, communal space where they can share and discuss their experiences will help them build a sense of community here at TYO. This will provide them with a vital support network to help them to positively live with, or adapt to, their circumstances.

Finally, we want to provide mothers with new concepts and new ideas child rearing that they may not have been previously exposed to. TYO will share information and knowledge so mothers will have the tools to support and discipline children in positive ways, which will play an important role in her process of self-empowerment. In doing so, TYO expects the entire family unit to be positively affected.

The most unique aspect of the program, therefore, is targeting the mother to improve her psycho-social well-being with the understanding that these improvements will be felt throughout the family as a whole.

How do you reassure women who may have some anxieties about being separated from their young child?

The program is going to be structured so that the mothers will be with their children in the classroom and not leave them at all in the first week. In the second week, we will start to have classes separate for the mothers and their children as the children become familiar with TYO. Even when separated, the mothers will be at the TYO Center and available should a child need assistance. If a child starts crying, it is very easy for the mother to go to the classroom and comfort her child. It is important for the children to learn to be independent and detached, but in a way that is not traumatic. This will also prepare them for when they begin school and are apart from their parents. The program is 2 hours a day, so the students will learn gradually how to be independent from their mothers, while also feeling safe in the knowledge that their mother is in the same building.

What are you looking forward to the most in the upcoming program?

I’m very much looking forward to the mothers giving positive feedback about a parenting technique they tried with their child with success. I’m also excited about the feeling of empowerment the women will experience because the more a mother values herself, the more support and love she has to give to her children and family. To witness the growth over the course of 8 weeks and the confidence and joy the women will develop is wonderful. You can hear from the joy in a woman’s voice when she is empowered; it’s very clear. I’m very much looking forward to that positive change.

What would you say to someone considering joining the program?

The first 5 years of a child’s life are the most crucial for their development. If you build a relationship with a child in that period, it will be easier for you to continue having this positive relationship.

TYO is a very safe place that strives to make its beneficiaries feel relaxed and supported. Here, women are free to ask any questions, and we will, to the best of our abilities, find an answer. We hope that through the Women’s Empowerment and Parenting Program, mothers will be empowered in their own lives and further empower their families through the development of positive, healthy relationships.

It’s one step to a brighter future, inshallah.


– The Women’s Empowerment and Parenting Program is supported by Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD).

– Interview conducted by Sally, Fall 2017 International Intern.

You Can Do It! A New Approach to Early Childhood Education


Basem Hasoun joined TYO in November 2017 as the Early Childhood Program Manager. Before joining TYO, he obtained a degree in Primary Education at Al Yarmouk University in Jordan. He wanted to be part of TYO because he believes in TYO values, which focus on a creative and holistic approach to learning that targets children, mothers, and the family.

What is the new program with which you are working?

I am working with TYO’s Early Childhood Education Programs including Early Childhood Education Program: Ages 2-3 and Core Early Childhood Education Program targeting children ages 4-8. I am also working with the After-School Academic Support Program for children ages 9-14. With the support of the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD), the new and expanded programs will allow us to facilitate the participation of hundreds more beneficiaries in the Nablus area.

The Early Childhood Education Program for Ages 2-3 will take place twice a week for 2 hours a day for multiple sessions a year. This program will work in tandem with the Women’s Empowerment and Parenting Program, where the mothers of children will have the opportunity to participate in trainings and seminars to increase parenting skills, family relationships, and personal empowerment. The two programs will take place simultaneously, ensuring TYO can help the entire family unit to grow as individuals and as a family.

TYO acknowledges that challenges in early childhood, especially those related to learning and development will continue to influence children as they grow. To address previous challenges with new approaches to education, with the support of QFFD, TYO has created an After-School Academic Support Program. In this program, children ages 9-14 can receive academic support by a team of local university volunteers with expertise in math, Arabic, English, and IT at a ratio of 1 tutor for every 2 students. The After-School Academic Support Program allows students to receive academic tuition in addition to their formative learning, and offers extra support for students with learning disabilities. This program is founded upon two objectives; to understand the causes of students’ learning disabilities and to increase their academic performance to see direct progress at school. We will try hard to achieve these two objectives and with the support of QFFD, I am certain that we will succeed.

In addition to direct classroom interaction, the support of QFFD has allowed TYO to bring a psychologist onto the team. The psychologist will be present in all the programs for children and youth to assess their needs and work with teachers to ensure the children have the support needed to push past their challenges and reach their full potential.

What was the purpose of establishing new programs at TYO?

The primary purpose creating the new programs of Early Childhood Education Program: Ages 2-3 and the After-School Academic Support Program was to provide a solution to the needs of the community. Through the Core Program, TYO has been facilitating sessions for 4-8 year olds with success, but have not had the opportunity to work with younger children. The community has been telling us that there is a need to target this younger age group. TYO is responding to the needs of the community by expanding the current Core Program to reach more children and creating the new Early Childhood Education Program: Ages 2-3. We want to help parents improve their approach to parenting by offering new perspectives on family management and relationships. Thanks to the support of QFFD, we are now able to provide parents with new techniques and approaches on how to intervene and interact with their children. They will learn and practice new parenting interventions at TYO and learn how to replicate these interventions in the home.

There has been a particularly significant demand for the After-School Academic Support Program from the local community, which has been reinforced by the significantly lower grades of students who have learning disabilities than their classmates. Children struggle at school not because they are less able to succeed, but because the traditional techniques used in the classroom can make it difficult for a student with a learning disability to absorb new information.  They need more support in order to succeed and TYO wants to provide this support.

How are these programs unique within the Nablus community?

At TYO, all our programs are unique as they are rooted in TYO values of learning through play in a safe environment and by a highly qualified team.

The inclusion of 2-3 year olds in the Early Childhood Education Program is unique as there is no other program in Nablus where children of this age can come and receive high quality early development education, while at the same time their mothers participate in an empowerment and parenting program. The opportunity to use a multi-generational approach to child development and family relationships is exciting and we are thrilled to work with the entire family in a holistic way.

The After-School Academic Support Program is unique in the emphasis on understanding the development of the child in both the areas they thrive and the areas in which they need more support. By providing focused support, we hope to empower students and help them to see they are capable of learning new things. Students who have learning disabilities may have many struggles with education that have built up and not been resolved in the past. It is our goal to help students realize their potential and overcome their challenges.

What are you looking forward to the most in the upcoming programs?

Everything! For the Early Childhood Education Programs, working with young children will be a very exciting experience. Expanding the number of children who can participate in the Core Program and working with children ages 2-3 will be a new experience, which I very much look forward to. For the After-School Academic Support Program, I look forward to changing the path for these students. We will be using new teaching methods that they have not been exposed to previously and this will change their perceptions of learning. By introducing play as an essential part of learning, new opportunities will open for them and improve their quality of life. I very much look forward for us to be able to accomplish these goals and see this crucial, positive change.


The Early Childhood Education Program and After-School Academic Support Program are supported by Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD).

– Interview conducted by Sally, Fall 2017 International Intern.

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.

Tomorrow’s Youth Organization has an exciting year coming up! What is new for TYO in 2018?

2018 is an exciting year of growth for TYO! We will begin implementing several new programs with the support of Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD). With this support, we will continue to improve the quality of our current programs while simultaneously expanding our reach into the community with new programs for new target groups. We will work on scaling up the quality of the Palestinian education sector through direct investment in early childhood education for young children, academic intervention for older children, and drop-out prevention for youth. Throughout the foundation years of childhood, youth spend the majority of their time in educational environments. Challenges they face throughout the early years of their lives have a direct impact on their futures. By investing in children and youth through supportive and empowering programs, TYO seeks to positively impact individuals, families, and the community to reach their full potential. In addition to educational support, TYO is furthering our holistic approach by providing a team of psychologists and social workers to work side by side with teachers to best meet the mental, emotional, and physical needs of children and their families.

For university students and recent graduates, there are unique challenges to be faced as they transition into adulthood. For many, the expectation of obtaining employment in their area of interest after graduation is an unfulfilled dream. Without employment, these youth struggle with confidence and limited vision of what the future can be. At the end of university studies, students have the theoretical knowledge needed to pursue their interests, but lack the real world skills needed for successful employment. TYO provides opportunities to university students and recent graduates to participate across our programming as volunteers. Through volunteering, young adults receive training in soft skills such as teamwork, leadership, and communication while also obtaining professional competency skills that can be vital for employment such as time management, professional writing, and public speaking. Time spent as a volunteer in TYO classrooms also prepares youth to be role models for children in their families and communities.  Under the support of QFFD, volunteers with excellent participation in TYO programs will have the opportunity to apply for scholarships to continue their education at local universities.

In addition to volunteer opportunities, TYO is launching a new youth entrepreneurship program to address the issue of unemployment for recent university graduates in Palestine. Years of high unemployment rates have left communities with an excess of workers for minimal positions. To address this issue, with the support of QFFD, TYO is initiating a new entrepreneurship program for youth with a dream and the passion to create their own businesses. By providing tools, training, and financial support to new entrepreneurs, youth will have the skills and knowledge needed to become their own boss and employ others in their community.

TYO embraces a multi-generational approach and it would not best serve the children and youth to provide an environment for growth that does not reach beyond the walls of the TYO Center. TYO is extending our expertise in developing supportive environments for children by providing classes and training for the mothers of participants in our early childhood programs. As the youngest children participate in TYO classes, their mothers will also receive training in parenting skills to support their children as they learn and grow. Mothers will also have a safe, supportive environment to build a community of parents with a common goal of ensuring their children are happy, safe, and loved.

That sounds an exciting year! What are you looking forward to the most in 2018?

For the past 10 years, the team at TYO has always done our best to insure the needs of our beneficiaries are met. By focusing on the quality of our programs instead of the quantity, we have been able to provide excellent services for participants of our programs. However, the needs in the community are great and we want to do more. We are fortunate to have the support of QFFD as we extend our services to meet the community where they most need assistance while also maintaining a high quality of services. My hope for 2018 is that the roots of the past 10 years anchor themselves deeply while we continue to grow taller and wider in impact for the Nablus community.


– Interview conducted by Katherine, Fall 2017 International Intern

Brewing Friendships


Enjoying a spot of tea while taking in the view of Nablus

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. Sharing living quarters with 3 Americans, I realised on the first day when I felt utter shock at the sight of one of my new roommates making tea in a microwave. I have since taught them well, however, and one of them is even returning to the US with her own teapot.

So, how does this all relate to what I’ve learnt and felt during my time here? Well, it relates in every way. Surprisingly, the tea culture that is strongly internalised within me is also widespread in Palestine. Not only is there always an offer of tea when visiting someone’s home, but also while out shopping for souvenirs in the different places we visit. We have even been offered tea while shopping for groceries! It is always very warmly received, and often much needed, after hours of having to resist buying every beautiful item we come across while (supposedly) shopping for friends and family.

The gift of mint tea in a shop in Bethlehem

Initially, I thought that being brought tea while out shopping was an unusually gracious gesture, but I was soon to find out that this kindness was just the tip of the iceberg. A teacher at TYO, Ahmad, recently took the interns for a hike to explore the nature surrounding his hometown, Jenin. Halfway through the hike, we stopped for a spot of lunch in the middle of an olive grove, with no other people in sight. It was beautiful. But what could make this moment more perfect? You got it – tea. Pulling a teapot out of his rucksack, Ahmad and his uncle saw to it that everyone had a refreshing cup of tea to enjoy while soaking in the autumn sun and reflecting on our time in Palestine. We were all very impressed at their commitment to tea. It certainly trumps anything I’ve seen in Britain!

The group relaxing with a cup of tea while taking a break from a hike.

Indeed, tea has played a central role in some of my favourite memories during my time here. Moments I will never forget include sitting at night with TYO’s guard, drinking copious amounts of tea and playing guitar. Limited in our ability to communicate through language, we have used tea to welcome each other and music to express ourselves and understand one another. This same guard has also become a personal doctor for the interns, providing us with herbal teas to help with whichever ailment was affecting us that week.

The friendly faces of TYO often meet over cups of sugary mint tea

It seems that something so simple, that I had never given more thought to beyond what constitutes my favourite blend, has been transformed into something beautiful. Tea has become a sign of hospitality, providing a warm welcome when exploring new and unknown places. It has become a sign of comradery, to enjoy while getting to know each other better and reflect on important memories. It has become a way to communicate, to build friendships, and support one another. Most significantly, tea is a symbol for the most important lesson I have learnt during my time here – to never underestimate the value in spending time with people and showing them that you care.

Tea among the olive trees


Sally, Fall 2017 International Intern

All the Good in Goodbye


International Interns Tallin and Katherine have knafeh while exploring Nablus.

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. And lastly, the food here was consistently amazing with not a single disappointing meal coming to mind for the entire three-month duration of my stay. That’s not even starting to talk about the heavenly wonder that is fresh warm knafeh. I could dedicate an entire blog to any one of these topics and it still wouldn’t do them their full justice.

I’ve been considering the main things that I will tell my friends and family when I head home. I will certainly tell them that if they believed everywhere in the Middle East is hot and sunny, Palestine can quickly change that point of view if you are there in winter. But even cold rainy days have their charm here when you watch people bustling about or the children completely wrapped from head to toe paying a great homage to Randy from A Christmas Story. I’ll tell my family how on the coldest days the weather sent my students into a competition of, “I’m wearing the least layers and I’m still not cold.”

I’ll also tell people how much it was the people of TYO that made every day bright and exciting. That I was able to form good friendships with my fellow interns, teachers, and volunteers. I’ll also tell them how I had so much fun spending time with students and they were consistently the highlight of my days. However, I think that it is the teachers who were ultimately the most impactful for me. The teachers of TYO are some truly incredible people that I doubt I will ever forget. Their patience, kindness, and support helped me grow not only professionally but personally as I dealt with new challenges in the classroom. They never for a moment treated the interns simply as new coworkers, but as new friends with which to get acquainted. Outside of TYO, we went for a hike in northern Palestine with teacher Ahmad and on a shopping excursion with the female teachers. Their openness and welcoming personalities are the cornerstone of this entire internship for me.

The landscape of Palestine is not easily forgotten.

I’ve sent friends and family dozens of pictures during my stay in Nablus, but I still wish they could see it first-hand. I hope that one day in the future, Palestine becomes an accessible destination for everyone so that they can also appreciate everything that this unique place has to offer. I am sad to leave when in many ways it feels I just started, but it always helps to know that TYO could not be left in more caring, passionate, dedicated, and talented hands.

Tallin, Fall 2017 International Intern

Random Acts of Kindness


3rd grade students in TYO’s Academic Program love learning together.

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. The staff, community, volunteers, teachers, and even the students have taught me what it means to put others before yourself. I will carry that spirit of Nablus with me long after I leave.

The staff at TYO have been selfless with their time and resources. For instance, in the middle of my time here, I developed a bad cough. The guard, Muhammad, gave me aniseed from his own supply with instructions about how to put it in tea. He also spent time digging next to his hut to find me fresh thyme to add to the tea. He gave his own time and limited resources to help me when I needed it most. Another staff member, Rawan, similarly worked overtime one evening to make sure that Sally and I had all of the art supplies we needed to make our classes a success. Staff worked tirelessly to make sure that we were healthy and prepared, even if it meant they needed to make sacrifices.

The community has also sacrificed its time and resources. One afternoon, while walking down the hill, I slipped and hurt my legs. An elderly woman climbed down the stairs of a nearby house with a large jug of cool water and poured it over my injuries. She sacrificed her own water, a scarce resource, solely to help me feel better. Her selflessness was deeply moving. The community also showed generosity whenever I went shopping.  Whether buying vegetables or shopping in the Old City, merchants were eager to offer tea, lemon and mint drinks, and Arabic coffee. The cost of the drink mattered less to them than the chance to make us feel comfortable.

The volunteers at TYO performed acts of kindness every single day. The classes would not have been possible without their support. They made a point of greeting me daily and taking the time to learn about me as a person. Their openness laid the groundwork for relationships of respect and mutual understanding. That understanding translated into constant teamwork to support the children’s learning. Volunteers in all of my classes would often stay late to help me gather my teaching materials and bring them back to my office. Their acts of kindness forged comradery between us. The volunteers let me know that they cared about me and my well-being.

Katherine and staff member Rawan have enjoyed spending time together this session.

The teachers at TYO likewise showed me kindness every day. Even when I knew teachers were having a bad day or were stressed out, they always made a point of asking after my well-being first. I was amazed by their strength and their unfailing ability to put others’ thoughts and needs before their own. That generous spirit translated into the classroom. The teachers constantly helped me to adapt my activities to serve and develop more meaningful relationships with the students. They welcomed me into their classrooms as a co-teacher rather than as a guest. Their patience and words of encouragement inspired me to learn and grow in new ways.

Even the students at TYO performed random acts of kindness on a regular basis. I sometimes dropped materials as I transitioned from one class activity to another. The instant a piece of paper or marker hit the floor, children as young as five years old would hurry to pick it up and hand it back to me. The students would also make a point of helping me clean up after activities. If I asked each student to pick up five crayons or five pieces of tissue paper, they would all pick up ten. I have never encountered such helpful children. Their compassion is a true reflection of the kindness of TYO, the community, the volunteers, the teachers, and their parents.

While many experiences have made my time here special, the little moments connecting them have made it truly unforgettable. TYO is a place that brings out the best in people and challenges them to become more than they thought they could be. My interactions with the staff, the community, volunteers, teachers, and students have shown me the true meaning of generosity, friendship, and compassion. As I leave TYO, I am inspired to pay it forward and support others the way people here have supported me.


Katherine, Fall 2017 International Intern

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.

خلال فترة عملي بمنظمة شباب الغد , تعلمت بأن التعليم يعتمد على المجتمع بشكل عام فالاطفال يحتاجون الى الدعم من اساتذتهم وابائهم كما ويحتاجون الى نشاطات تعتمد على شخصيتهم, فبعض الاطفال يتعلمون من خلال النشاطات البصرية ,بعضهم الاخر يتعلم افضل من خال الانشطه الحركية وبعضهم من خلال الانشطه السمعية . نوفر في منظمة شباب الغد للاطفال والمجتمع مصادر تعليمية متعددة ذات جودة وقيمة عالية لاننا نهتم.
Isra’ is a volunteer at TYO with the Core Early Childhood Education Program.

Winning More Than Just First Place


Academic students and a volunteer laugh together as they play a game during English class.

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.

I am hardly the first teacher to harness the benefits of competition. Its effects have often provided positive results. The use of team competition in education has been documented in psychology before, including the 1981 study Effects of Cooperative, Competitive, and Individualistic Goal Structures on Achievement. The study tested how students preformed when they competed against each other individually or as a team working in a cooperative effort. The study concluded that, “Cooperation with intergroup competition is also superior to interpersonal competition and individualistic efforts,” (Johnson, W., Maruyama, G., Johnson, R, 47). By adding a teamwork element to competitive learning, students were able to remove themselves from their insecurities and play together, learning the lesson material without realizing they were studying through play.

The study supports the claim that team competition can help students academically, but that’s not all competition can provide students. Competitions help to meet students half way by using the energy that they naturally bring to class and redirect it in positive directions. Energy in a classroom can cause disruptions and distractions during class, but it’s not an inherently negative thing and can be used in a positive way. If students supply the energy, teachers should supply the means to use it in constructive ways and change how students view learning.

Academic students line up to play a racing game to practice English letters and numbers.

Confidence can be cultivated during activities when students recognize their abilities and overall contribution to their team getting points. During an intense moment of competition, students will try to help their team however they can. Win or lose, the sense of contributing to a shared goal can often boost the confidence of even the shiest students.

The positive impact of competition in the classroom became obvious through my own anecdotal experience with one of my older students as the class participated in a competitive activity in 4 teams. The subject was spelling, one of the less engaging subjects, yet when points were on the line, my students scrambled to find the necessary letters out of a pile. The student, who is normally the most reluctant to answer any question and tries his best to sit in the corner, was now completely hunched over the table, sorting through letters with his teammates and excitedly yelling that he had found the necessary vowel. This complete transformation wasn’t merely limited to the spelling challenge. He continued to amaze as he encouraged his teammates, excitedly pumped his fist when his team scored and was the first to throw his hand up in the air when his team had completed their task first. As an individual, he was unsure and timid in his answers, but surrounded by his teammates and the chance of victory, he was a completely different student. The student now shows his confidence outside of competitions and is more likely to engage in lessons when he knows that he might have an opportunity later to use that same knowledge to gain some much-coveted points.

Academic students race to grab a lettered beanbag when their number is called.

Games and activities allow students to grow academically, gain confidence in their abilities, and express themselves through play. Education that is effective, fun, and leads to personal growth is what TYO is all about, and what distinguishes it as an education center rather than a traditional school. The goal isn’t merely to have students leave our doors with a little bit more knowledge in their heads, but to create a personal love of knowledge and to grow as individuals.

Johnson, D. W., Maruyama, G., Johnson, R., Nelson, D., & Skon, L. (1981). Effects of cooperative, competitive, and individualistic goal structures on achievement: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 89(1), 47-62.


– Tallin, Fall 2017 International Intern