Reading Between the Lines
Apart from the programming TYO offers to the refugee communities of Nablus, TYO also offers a mini-summer camp for the children of the TYO neighborhood, Khalleh. This Library Day is a one and a half hour, once a week program that includes arts and crafts, reading, and sports for children ages eight to twelve. Library Day is an integral part of the TYO curriculum because it both provides a space and time for fun for the kids of our immediate community, but it also allows for cross-cultural exchange between TYO interns and the Khalleh community.
One integral part of Library Day is giving the kids an opportunity to read fun books. Most of the kids choose to read independently, or sometimes in pairs. Sadil, one girl from the Khalleh neighborhood, wanted to read a book in Arabic with me, Eleanor. My Arabic is functional, but Sadil is a much stronger reader than I am. As we read one-on-one, I followed along and occasionally corrected her. After a few pages, she invited Eleanor to read a little. Slowly but surely, I sounded out the words and when I got stuck on a word, or pronounced something incorrectly, Sadil would prompt me and encourage me. Although it can’t have been very engaging for Sadil to listen to me struggle with the Arabic, every few pages she would hand me the book and tell me, “You read now!”. The experience of being both a teacher and a student empowers kids and interns, and shows us that we all have skills to share and things to learn. Eleanor and Sadil’s moments together shed light on the true cross-cultural exchanges that happen during Library day and during TYO programming. While reading in Arabic today, Eleanor and Sadil not only learned about each other’s languages but also their cultures, skills, and similarities.