TYO Intern Alumni: Where are They Now?

Emily Alum

Emily Peterman

This isn’t the type of internship where you leave unsure if your efforts were even noticed, everyday you’ll receive validation that your presence matters from your students, TYO staff, or your fellow interns.

From Boiling Springs, PA Emily taught TWG Fitness, WISE Beginner English, WISE Advanced English and Professional Competency at An-Najah University as an intern at TYO Nablus in the spring of 2013.

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

Every time I stepped into The Women’s Group Fitness class I had to brace myself for what easily turned into the most entertaining two hours of my day. After instructing the class for about 5 or 6 weeks already and being limited to the 5th floor conference room, I made the decision to take “my moms” outside for a new variation of cardiovascular exercise: Capture the Flag. Though I initially met some reluctance and stubbornness about being outside, after finally getting the game going I was impressed not only by everyone’s sudden interest in the game, but also to see their vibrant personalities and energy that I was so accustom to upstairs, carry with them outside. There may have been more than a few falls, including my own, but there was no absence of laughter and near constant cheering. To my surprise everyone begged to come back out the next day! Watching these women get bolder and more energetic as time passed is how I will always remember The Women’s Group - that and supplying me with endless laughter.

What do you miss most about Nablus?

More than anything I miss the incredible sense of community I found at TYO from the moment I woke up till the moment I fell asleep. Sure, it’s a community center and that should be expected, but it is truly a place where every person is growing together, caring for each other, and jointly working to make the community stronger. When I remember this sense of community I think of the day my WISE Beginner English class joined The Women’s Group for fitness class. I think of my WISE Advanced English class routinely staying after hours to give me Arabic lessons. I think of the children and mothers I didn’t even work with who stopped to greet me every time I saw them. I think of the intern camaraderie and the seemingly endless 6th Floor UNO competitions that went into the night. Ultimately though I miss living within a unique community that shares an appreciation for Palestine and a brighter future. Right when you think you’ve left this incredible community behind, watch out. If you’re like me you’ll run into Suhad, Sahar, and Amani on the streets of Washington, DC just days after leaving Nablus and you’ll instantly be reminded that the TYO community is fluid and that can’t actually be left behind.

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

I was very lucky to arrive home in April and jump right into a unique position collaborating with Intel and Participant Media in an effort to raise awareness of the barriers women and girls around the world face in receiving an education. Hopping from one side of the country to the other engaging with university students and faculty about ways they can collaborate and work locally with Intel for Change to eliminate these barriers has me more excited than ever about the prospect of starting graduate school in 2014. But first, I’m looking forward to possibly another stint back in the Middle East this fall!

How do you think TYO affected you personally and professionally?

Professionally, TYO has set a very high standard for me as I approach other domestic and international NGOs. TYO has painted the picture of effective management, responsible community development, and an unwavering commitment to their cause. No grass will ever grow under TYO’s feet and I can’t help but compare that organizational enthusiasm and ambition with every organization I come across from this point forward.

On a personal level, my time interning at TYO broadened my commitment to international development, education, and the Middle East. After 10 short weeks, I left TYO feeling hopeful and ambitious, having been exposed to a whole new network of individuals passionate about similar things. Every conversation, meal, or shisha shared with my fellow interns, TYO staff, translators, and students has played a significant role in motivating me to continue along this journey.

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

Before you do anything else, read TYO’s mission statement. If you’re ready to eat, drink, and breath that mission and play a significant role in enabling the community to reach their full potential as healthy, active and responsible family and community members, you’re not going to want to miss out on the opportunity to intern in Nablus. This isn’t the type of internship where you leave unsure if your efforts were even noticed, everyday you’ll receive validation that your presence matters from your students, TYO staff, or your fellow interns. You’re going to work hard, but every minute spent at TYO is worth it. Just be prepared to leave Nablus with yet another place to call home!