A Glimpse of Nablus, its Hope and its Struggles

Even in my short time at TYO I have built powerful relationships that I know will last.  I learned more about myself for sure, but the most meaningful part has been learning about those around me.  The resilience that these students have is more than I’ve seen from any other students with whom I’ve been in contact.  One of my students walked from the opposite mountain (Nablus is situated between two mountains) to attend class.  Another student went above and beyond and researched cities that her parents are not originally from in order to learn more about her country. It is my hope that I inspired these young bright minds to search deeply within their family history in order to learn more about their identity.  Although it was difficult at first to get the children to gather stories and to become immersed in their history, I noticed something wonderful.  As soon as I shared stories of my grandfather, they listened. As soon as I shared pictures of my family, they sat still and watched.  It was truly wonderful.  Although I wish I learned this earlier on in the class, I now know the power of personalizing a lesson for your students to pay attention (it’s somehow very interesting to learn about a teacher’s family!).

Another part of my internship consisted of my time at Al Najah National University.  The last day of class we all went out to coffee, and that meeting was a true reflection of our time together.  One of the students recalled her most recent interview and told me that the time she spent on mock interviews in the class really helped.  It gave me a sense of satisfaction and hope that such professional development courses are truly beneficial to a student’s future.   We also had a more informal talk about our future goals and it was nothing short of inspirational to listen to the diverse array of interests.  The course at Al Najah left me truly wanting to institutionalize such professional development courses in universities.

Finally, I truly feel that I got to know Nablus inasmuch as I can in one month.  It’s a remarkable city that really has its own rich, deep culture.  Getting lost in the souk, hearing people’s stories – whether they be my students, the local staff at TYO, or the taxi drivers – really grounded me in a place that I know I want to return. I thank TYO and the amazing international and local staff for this opportunity.


Asma is an intern at TYO Nablus