TYO Fellow Alumni: Where are They Now?

Clare Herceg

There really are two words to describe Nabulsis - resilient and loving. It never ceases to amaze me how the women and children who come to the TYO center can do so with huge smiles on their faces. After having lived through multiple violent incursions, living in areas plagued by poverty and political instability; and often having experienced trauma at the individual, familial, and societal level, it amazes me that they can continue to open their hearts to you.

A Chester, NY native, Clare taught Creative Thinking and Women's English as a fellow at TYO Nablus.

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

My favorite moments from TYO were definitely from the classroom. I loved hearing my students' laughs, whether it was while doing science experiments or on the soccer field. One of the best days was when we made gloop (corn starch + water) and got to get messy. The children literally squealed with delight as the mixture transformed from a liquid to a solid and back to a liquid as they moved it around in their hands.

What do you miss most about TYO or Nablus?

I miss having the opportunity to work directly with the children from my Creative Thinking classes, the neighborhood girls at soccer, and the women from my Moms' English class. TYO provides you with a unique opportunity to directly serve multiple segments of the local community; I learned so much from the children, adolescents, and mothers that I worked with.

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

I currently work at a Riyada Consulting and Training, a Palestinian development consulting firm in Ramallah. I left TYO with a better understanding of how one NGO operates at the local level and of some basic needs of the disadvantaged communities that it serves. I decided to stay in Palestine to get a better overall understanding of how NGOs work together in Palestine; what makes certain projects effective or not in this unique environment; and to better understand what interests drive donor decisions. I have learned quite a bit over the past 1.5 years here, and am increasingly aware of how much more I have left to learn. However, I wouldn't want to be anywhere but Palestine at the moment and am very grateful to have the opportunity to learn these lessons directly from Palestinians themselves.

How do you think TYO affected you personally and professionally?

My time at TYO confirmed my interest and love for Palestine and helped lead me to decide to stay here for another year. Professionally, I gained a basic understanding of M&E, which provided me with a useful starting foundation for my current job.

Do you have any advice for anyone considering applying for a TYO internship?

If you are interested in learning more about Palestine, then you should definitely find a way to come here. What you can learn on the ground is invaluable. Also, TYO gives you an amazing opportunity to serve segments of the community that would otherwise be impossible for you to reach by yourself; you will learn a great deal from your students and community members that you meet, and will grow in ways that you never expected.