As interns at TYO, we teach not only summer camp for youth in Nablus, but also English Language and Professional Competency at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels at An-Najah National University. Although we’re the same age as these students, we have a significant amount of professional experience we know we can share with them. Few of our students have ever had a job, written a resume, or sat through an interview. In order to support youth preparing to enter the job market, TYO connects local university students with American interns who help empower them to articulate and begin the path towards their professional goals. This class time allows for cultural exchange between American and Palestinian youth - a privilege most people our age don’t have access to.
Our courses at An-Najah mean a lot to us. We feel fortunate to be able to help the future workforce of Palestine gain skills that some of their peers lack. According to the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics, in the first quarter of 2012, unemployment rate among youth graduates was 50.5%. This huge rate of unemployment among university graduates can be attributed to the lack of jobs available in the workforce, but also to the lack of professional skills taught in the schools and universities. In American high schools, students create their first resume and many teens often get jobs once they hit 16 or 17 years old, too. In Nablus, we've seen that this isn't the case. Often in Palestine, because recent graduates are inexperienced, they are seen as unproductive and not worth investing in. Through our English Language and Professional Competency course, we hope to empower students to feel confident and prepared when entering the workforce.
Our English Language and Professional Competency courses can take different forms - depending on the varying English level of the students. However we all focus on building professional skills including writing CVs and cover letters, professionalism and interviews, public speaking and debating techniques. To learn a bit about our students and to get a better understanding of what we do as TYO interns, check out this acrostic: the ABC's of teaching at An-Najah University.
Afaf is one of the students from the Advanced Professional Competency course. She came to Elizabeth’s class on the first day with an unexpected request: she wanted to learn how to write a scientific research paper. All of the students are very advanced, but Afaf stands out as a woman with big ambitions and the determination to reach them. Even though the other students have very different expectations for our class - such as CV writing and interview practice - we are very impressed by Afaf’s dedication to her academic interests. Without the help of TYO and the international interns, students like Afaf may not have the chance to develop their English writing skills and bridge the gap between academia and professionalism. Although Elizabeth is no expert when it comes to science, she will try her best to help Afaf reach her goals!
Hisham. Despite being the eldest in the class, Hisham entered Kyra’s Beginner Professional Competency course with virtually no English. Instead of being intimidated by his fellow classmates’ deeper understanding of the subject or the difficulty of the new language, Hisham has only seemed more and more motivated with every class. Attentively taking notes the entire hour, three times a week, Hisham has improved vastly after just three classes. Just this past class, when asked, “Hello, how are you?” he responded in full sentences, “I am good. How are you?” This marks so much improvement for him! Hisham’s growth has been thrilling to watch and is a constant reminder of why TYO is so important and influential, as they not only target children, but also university students and young professionals about to enter the workforce. Hisham proves it is never too late to learn and grow.
Knowledge of professionalism
Mohammad has been pretty quiet since day one of Eleanor’s Lower Intermediate English class. He seemed focused and engaged, but quiet. For the third class, the students were asked to write a one-page personal about anything and then read them aloud to the class. Other students wrote fairly generic introduction pieces, but Mohammad’s was a creative piece about giving his first presentation to a huge hall filled with people. Mohammad’s sheet of paper was full of run-ons and grammatical mistakes, but was also bursting with metaphors, similes, imagery, and creativity. It was such an excellent reminder to give students multiple ways to shine. In both summer camp and An-Najah classes, TYO emphasizes creative and experiential learning, and the uniqueness of each student, and crosscultural exchange.
Nader is the most enthusiastic student in Debra’s Upper Intermediate class. The very first day while sharing future goals, he exuberantly spoke of his goal to become a cardiovascular surgeon, one of many ambitious goals in the class. He volunteered immediately to practice his public speaking, trying to explain in less than a minute why he wanted to achieve his goal. His willingness to practice anything Debra suggested, and passion for learning, was inspirational for his fellow classmates. After he offered his attempt, the other students began to try and ask questions. It is wonderful to see the students supporting one another and challenging themselves. Just like TYO, the classes at An-Najah are designed to foster future success by building solid foundations of personal, social, and professional knowledge and skills.
Questions and answers