Reaching Outside of our Walls
Most of the work done here at TYO begins within the walls of our six-story building but translates far beyond into the streets, schools and universities of Nablus. From the physical presence of our murals to the professional development of our women, the impact reverberates outward. Sometimes we start outside. Today I taught my first photography class outside of the Khallet al Amood neighborhood where our center is located. I headed to Balata refugee camp, the largest and most crowded camp in the West Bank. With only four schools serving a population of over 23,000, it is more than crowded. I was lucky to have a small class of just 10 fourth grade girls from the UNRWA primary school. As I waited for my class to start, the bell rang for break and the pavement filled with girls. Over a 1,000 girls attend the school. I could barely see the cement playground where they milled around. I searched the crowd for familiar faces, and found several girls from my previous sports class at TYO. To their surprise, I had come to their school to teach a photography class. Normally, the students leave their neighborhood to come to us. The girls and I were more than happy to reunite this time in their own community.
Two girls, Aya and Aya ended up being in my class. They remembered our marching by number; they even remembered our English words and actions of the day. I was impressed as they took on a leadership role in getting the girls to line up and follow suit. The enthusiasm and respect that these girls showed me and ultimately themselves re-enforces my faith in the work we do. Class was exciting, fun and serious. Like my classes at TYO, this class will revolve around three themes: Identity, Community and Change. We began right off with the cameras and taking pictures of each other inside of our homemade Identity frames, talking about how emotions are part of who we are.
It is so important for us to reach into the community of Nablus and extend our hands so together we can serve those that need it the most. On Sunday I will head to El-Ein refugee camp to teach another ongoing community outreach class of girls photography. As the spring slowly comes to Nablus, we venture outside of the center in teaching and painting. Rimah’s mural class will be starting their first mural as the sun comes out and we will continue to reach outside of our walls.