Final Farewell: Noah
It would be an understatement to describe these past three months as a challenge. My time as a TYO Intern has exposed me to people and experiences completely foreign, as well as challenged me to rethink my own assumptions and preconceptions about living in the Middle East and working with children. On the professional level, the International Internship Program has required that I work at an organizational and interpersonal level far higher than anything required by my previous work experience. I believe this difference arises from the fact that, as a TYO intern, even my professional obligations were approached from a very personal place. During my stay, I have never experienced such a dichotomy: what it is to feel so welcomed, yet, at the same time, out of place. It becomes very personal then, trying to teach young children about what it is to feel included, when at times I felt quite alienated myself. The small accomplishments that my students made were treasured by both of us.
Looking back on the difference in class dynamics from the first to last week, the visible progress students have made in such a short time amazes me. For example, students in the first week could not line up without pushing each other or throwing a fit at the idea of standing behind a girl. In the final week, those same students staged a play by learning lines, making props, and rehearsing together for two weeks prior. Not being able to sit next to a girl, and now playing her traveler comrade in a rehearsed play! Knowing how new an experience this was for them and for me, seeing their excitement and perseverance through the nerves of reading lines in front of an audience, how some of them even memorized their lines, made it even more meaningful. I am very proud of my students, and this sense of accomplishment is more than I could have asked for from my time here.
It is a bittersweet recollection thinking back on my time in Nablus. Ultimately, however, I feel lucky to have been part of an organization that has such a real impact, even in such short-term levels of contact. I know that future interns will come with their own input to contribute and are sure to have their own unique experiences, but what they can be sure of is that they will become part of a greater community driven toward making positive changes.
Noah is a Fall 2013 intern at TYO in Nablus