I Leave My Heart In Nablus…

Oday and Matas wave a cheerful goodbye Twelve weeks ago, I was struggling with my decision to accept this International Internship position with Tomorrow’s Youth Organization.  You see, I am a “mid-career changer” and am older than a traditional intern.  I am married to a very supportive husband who is caring for our two dogs back in Boston, Massachusetts.  The decision to leave my home for three months took a lot of careful consideration.  However, this was something I had always wanted to do – after having taught for many years in different capacities, I was truly excited for the opportunity to work with some of the most disadvantaged children in the world.  So I accepted, nervously boarded a plane for the Middle East and sent an Insha’Allah skyward.

Now, 12 weeks later, I understand that taking that leap was the best decision I have ever made.  Yes, this was one of the most challenging and intense experiences of my life.  I’m pretty confident I’ll sleep for at least 16 hours straight when I snuggle into my own bed.  But the rewards are so great they made every moment of every challenge “worth it.”

Tulin, Emad, Yara and Qinan say a big goodbye!

This session, I piloted an English immersion program with TYO’s youngest beneficiaries in the Core Child Program.  I also coached gymnastics and taught health to six-year olds, wrote curriculum, lessons plans and performed extensive monitoring and evaluation.  I worked side-by-side with my Palestinian peers, wrote a weekly blog post and helped organize two Library Days for children living in Khalet Al Amood.  I took weekly Arabic lessons, hiked Wadi Qelt, harvested olives and visited Qaliqilya, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Jericho.  I celebrated Eid, ate incredible meals at the homes of incredible Palestinian families and formed a slight addiction to mana’eesh.

So when I waved goodbye to the Core Child Program students for the last time, I found it impossible to hold back the tears.  The children and community of Nablus welcomed me as family, offered their homes, their dinner tables and their hugs.  I will always feel as though I’ve left a little bit of myself in Nablus and I am determined to bring a little bit of Nablus to the rest of the world.

Goodbye TYO!

- Jessica

Jessica is a Fall 2013 intern at TYO in Nablus.