The End of Orientation, the Start of Classes
The Spring 2013 Interns have arrived and share their initial impressions of Nablus and of TYO and its programs.
My journey to Nablus began over a week ago on a very cold morning at Terminal D of the Philadelphia International Airport. I’m happy to say that since arriving in Nablus last week I’ve found myself within an amazing community here at Tomorrow’s Youth Organization who deeply cares about the present needs of the Nablusi people. Despite the dreary cold weather and near constant rain I’ve seen since arriving, the gloominess outside is easily masked by the optimism and joy revealed by every person I’ve met inside the community center.
My fellow interns and I have been busy, busy, busy trying to learn as much as possible about how the mission here at Tomorrow’s Youth Organization is fulfilled, on top of completing all of our curricula for the upcoming session. Although the task was daunting, mapping out curriculums for the next 8 weeks, it’s been a rewarding and often comical time bouncing ideas around and getting to know one another in the intern office. It’s obvious that collaboration is a keystone to the success of Tomorrow’s Youth Organization; it’s easily spotted anytime you turn around. From the fundamental way this American organization partners with local staff, volunteers, and other community organizations, to the way the teachers work alongside classroom volunteers, everyone is striving to fulfill the same mission - to enable disadvantaged members of the Nablusi community to realize their full potential as healthy, active, and responsible family and community members. I am pleased to join this team as a Spring 2013 Intern and look forward to working alongside these motivated and inspired people over the next eight weeks.
The other spring interns and I are wrapping up a whirlwind first week here at TYO, and so far I’ve been struck by two things: the kindness and generosity of everyone I’ve met, and the incredible sense of excitement and joy that people feel about TYO and its programs.
During this first week, we’ve had the chance to meet with many of the people who make TYO work, from staff members and volunteers to translators and cab drivers. Without exception, everyone has been excited to welcome us to Nablus and eager to help us in any way possible. Most importantly, of course, this kindness is matched by a commitment to making TYO’s programs the best they can be, and in every meeting we’ve had I’ve been impressed by the expertise and know-how that is assembled everyday to serve the women and children of Nablus.
For me, the highlight so far has been the chance to see the Core Program children as they line up for classes, and to participate in an afternoon sports class. The class took place in a wooden-floored room stocked with balls, hula-hoops, cones, and other gym class essentials, and as the children and I ran around the perimeter of the room to stretch and warm up, I inevitably found myself in a foot race with several rambunctious young boys. Then, we broke into two teams to run relay races, and even though our team lost, I got high-fives from every kid as they passed by, every one of them beaming.
On Saturday, we hiked Wadi Qelt, a mini-Grand Canyon that follows an ancient Roman aqueduct to a secluded Greek Orthodox monastery, and this week we have begun our first week of classes. If this first week is any indication, our time here will be busy, fun-filled, and extraordinarily rewarding. I think I speak for all of the interns when I say: we couldn’t be more excited.
My first experience of the Middle East as I stand on this balcony staring at the bright lights of Nablus beaming back at me. I had always heard about this ‘Holy Land’ yet I could never comprehend what people meant by that, until now. Stupendous history. It’s safe to say it’s all quite overwhelming. A little kid from London given the chance to better the lives of others by an organisation that strives to "enable children, youth and parents to realize their potential as healthy, active and responsible family and community members."
As my plane landed, excitement and nervousness grapple with each-other as I head down to immigration and several hours later, towards Nablus. From there everything is a blur, I have been in Nablus for over a week already and it feels like I just landed yesterday.
It's weird living and working in the same building, with offices and classrooms on the first five floors and the Pièce de résistance on the sixth floor, the penthouse suite. Needless to say I’m exaggerating but it is a lovely building with excellent facilities which was kindly donated to TYO. That is one of the things that has impressed me about TYO, unlike other NGOs that splash their donations and grants on fancy offices and extraordinary facilities, TYO seems to spend their money on things that will benefit the society like turning the building into a community centre with classrooms and offices. TYO also provides excellent opportunities for business trainings and seminars as well as pre-school and after-school classes for the local kids.
Orientation week was tough, tons to take in from history to cultural guidelines, many meetings, and curriculum development. No wonder time has flown by. However the real test begins now as the classes start. It’s hard enough teaching my mom how to use a computer let alone 15 moms, but this is what I came for, to help these women better their lives so in turn they can better their children’s. Isn’t this what this is all about?