Discovering Identity in Nablus

Meet TYO's newest intern - Asma. Asma is currently working towards earning her Masters in Public Policy at Harvard University. A Palestinian American, Asma is excited to be working with Palestinian children and to be back in the homeland of her ancestors. At TYO, Asma's teaching a month-long oral history class to students 10-12 years old - focusing on themes of identity and self expression. Asma is also teaching a Professional Competency course to students at An-Najah University. Last week was Asma's first week of classes. Read on to see how her classes went.

After a full two weeks of teaching both children in the neighborhood and adults at Al Najah National University, I can truly say that being in Nablus and volunteering with Tomorrow’s Youth Organization is nothing short of inspirational.  It has been a great mix of interaction with young and lively youth who are energetic (at times more than I can handle!) and eager to learn, to college students who are concerned about landing a job after graduation.  Both interactions truly embody the work that needs to be done in Palestine – reaching out to youth and enhancing the skills of tomorrow’s leaders.

The entrance of An-Najah's new campus


Today was a particularly enlightening day with the children because I did not realize just how little they know about the geography of their own country.  My project with the children is an oral history one that involves them interviewing their parents and grandparents about their history.  From this, we locate the places geographically and learn about the history of each place.  The final product is a book about each student’s family history. The goal is to facilitate communication between generations and to build a sense of identity among the youth.

The clock tower in the Old City of Nablus

One student from the neighborhood came up to me with a sweet smile and explained that, if I had not encouraged her to ask about her parents’ history, she may never have done so.   These comments came after a class in which we wrote in Palestinian cities on a huge map.  Many of the students did not know the locations and came out of the class learning a great deal about Palestine and about themselves.  The student then continued to tell me that, after my class she now wants to study geography because she discovered a love for it.  This is what drives me to come to class, and this is what makes TYO special – its unique position to help children discover their strengths and passions.