TYO Intern Alumni: Where are They Now?

Samee Sulaiman

Professionally, I developed skills that I will always keep with me. I learned the importance of producing quality work.

A Brooklyn, NY native, Samee taught drama, homework help and English during his TYO internship in the fall of 2010.

What was your favorite moment/story from your time with TYO?

It would be impossible to choose an absolute favorite story or moment with TYO with so many to choose from. However one of my favorite moments was in my drama class when I was struggling to have my students settle down long enough to explain a game that I wanted to play with them. In this moment of frustration, one of my students jumped into the pile of clothes and props we had in the corner of the room and came out dressed up in a ridiculous outfit that reminded me of my grandmother. The giggles were earth shaking. All my other students were paralyzed by laughter. So I went with the flow and told all my students to follow suit. Each came out in wonderful costumes of bright, uncoordinated colors and patterns. I dropped the lesson plan I had and formed the students into groups to make skits based on the costumes they were wearing. It was absolutely wonderful to witness their uninhibited creativity. It reminded of the importance of being silly. I will always remember how effective laughter is against frustration.

What do you miss most about TYO or Nablus?

I miss the fresh pomegranate juice from juice stands, eating Kanafe with my Kalimatna partners, spending time with my family, the sometimes overwhelming nature of Palestinian hospitality, our beautiful flat, looking at the city at night from our veranda, traveling around the country, the Old City, the four year olds when they walked into the building in the morning, the TYO staff and our hilarious lunches, all the ridiculous cultural misunderstandings, the volunteers we worked with, and of course my students.

What have you been up to after leaving Nablus and what are your plans for the future?

I am a program assistant with the National Quality Center, a non-profit that works with the AIDS Institute as a part of the New York State Department of Health. The NQC works on improving the quality of care of all federally funded HIV/AIDS providers and services by providing free technical assistance. I’m honestly not sure exactly what I will be doing with my future, but distinct possibilities include medical school and graduate school in Middle Eastern Studies.

How do you think TYO affected you personally and professionally?

I experienced TYO in a very different way from the other interns because my family is from Palestine. A layer of my experience was very emotionally and spiritually fulfilling simply because I was in Palestine. I really fulfilled a personal need in that sense because I was in a moment where I needed to engage my origins. Professionally, I developed skills that I will always keep with me. I learned the importance of producing quality work. I learned a lot of lessons while teaching. The most important of them was that I want to continue to work with children. I have also developed an interest in the psychology of children, especially those who have similar experiences to my students.