Time’s Up at TYO
Hard as it may be to believe, our time here at TYO is already coming to an end. We finished classes two weeks ago with final assessments, parties, and lots of goodbyes to our students. The sudden end of classes came as a bit of a shock to all of us, immersed as we were in teaching, drawing up new lesson plans, and preparing activities and exercises for our students across a variety of classes. Interning at TYO is a constant whirlwind of new experiences, people, and opportunities, and as such I think it’s safe to say that neither Emily, Danish, nor myself have had time yet to step back and fully appreciate all that we’ve seen, learned, and done over these past ten weeks. But there are some reflections and observations that have jumped out at me.
First is an appreciation of the outstanding work that TYO does in this city. The world is full of well-intentioned NGOs, but it’s rare to find an organization like TYO makes such an indelible positive impact on hundreds of lives every day. For the women and children I worked with this spring, TYO is a community center, a refuge, a home away from home, and a place where they feel special and loved. The resources, classes, and activities available here change lives—and that’s an incredible thing to be part of.
Second is gratitude for the kindness and warmth of everyone I’ve met here in Nablus. The Middle East is often portrayed as a place of lawless danger, of irrationality and fear; but the people I have met in this city, from fruit vendors to taxi drivers, students, and translators, have never failed to make me feel welcome—and just a bit lazy. At An-Najah University, I had students who were teaching themselves multiple languages while juggling schoolwork and volunteering, and here at TYO, I met mothers who are pushing themselves to learn new skills and find new passions. I’ll miss my wonderful students, even as I continue to feel awed by their hard work and determination.
On the third floor of TYO, on the wall outside Tala’s office and the intern office, hang posters designed and decorated by each intern class that has passed through here. Emily, Danish, and I made our poster during the first week, and pretty soon that poster will be the only direct reminder of us left here; we’ll be another one of a dozen intern classes that has come and gone, our places taken over by a new intern class that will arrive this summer to teach new classes and form new friendships. After working and living here for ten weeks, that impermanence is a strange realization. But it’s also uplifting—TYO and its programs will continue, and the incredible people I met here will stay, committed to improving the lives of those in need in Nablus. I’m just glad I got to be a part of it.
Alex was an intern from the Spring 2013 session at TYO in Nablus