Intern Journal: The Happy Moments in Between
Living and working in Nablus is filled with its daily challenges and sometimes even a little bit of contained chaos. During Sunday’s meeting, all of the interns were able to reflect on the little moments that gave us joy in the past week. These are the moments that sustain and drive us to do our best. For me, there were several moments to choose from this week that were both hilarious and enlightening. On Tuesday, my students learned about and made paper fans using popsicle sticks, tape, construction paper, and watercolors. Half and hour into the class, I noticed something odd sitting on one of the tables. It was small, round and yellow...a water balloon? I looked down to see Eiz, probably the tinniest students in my class, meticulously painting with the concentration of Picasso. I came to find out that Eiz had smuggled his water balloon into class and had kept it under his shirt for most of our activity. While it’s unclear what his intentions were, I’m pretty sure they were somewhat innocent. Still, he didn’t get his precious contraband back until after the day was over.
More of these joyous moments happened during class presentations. Prior to having class presentations, I assumed that only a small number of students would volunteer to present their work. Even in an American classroom, 8-10 year old students can be incredibly shy and reserved. And when you add the highly traumatic nature of growing up as a refugee, I was pleasantly surprised that nearly half of my students’ hands shot up when I asked them to come to the front of the classroom. One of my favorite presentations was made by Ibrahim who presented his painting in Arabic and then again in English, just to practice.
Another one of my favorite presentations was made by Ayman, who told the class that his fan was a picture of boys and girls playing nicely together. Considering the fact that, on a good day, I have to fight to get my male and female students to sit at the same table, this felt like a small victory for gender parity.
Finally, there’s Leen, a girl with confidence and wisdom to spare. The oldest child in her family, I found her several times this week helping her fellow students to sound out new words,encouraging shy students to present their work in front of the class, and gently explaining steps in our art projects with the patience and maturity.
The week’s happy moments culminated in Thursday’s sports day. Whether it was the incessant cheering each time the ball was hit during our volleyball game or our insane game of "Snakes in Grass", I absorbed enough joy for all of the interns combined.
Cate is a summer intern at TYO Nablus.