Nikon Not Believe It’s Already Over

It seems like just yesterday that I was packing my bags for Nablus. The last three months have been a blur and an adventure. My experience at TYO involved much more than just teaching photography classes. On top of professional competency courses at an-Najah University, staff English classes, and the Women’s Group IT classes, I developed a bond with my students and a unique appreciation for the context in which they live. TYO’s commitment to the Nabulsi community is a unique and singular endeavor in the northern West Bank. As the only American NGO in Nablus, TYO has the sole distinction of representing the United States in an area that has endured the neglect of regional development initiatives and the brunt of complex political circumstances. I feel privileged to have been able to play a part in TYO’s efforts and am sad to leave Nablus behind.

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Students in my Triple Exposure classes have surprised me with their artistic creativity, maturity, and enthusiasm about photography. It’s not easy being a kid in Nablus where schools are crowded, privacy is scarce, and self-expression is even scarcer. Students have exposed the best and worst of Nablus by taking revealing photos of themselves and their community. In the beginning of the session, I asked my students if they thought of themselves as artists; few raised their hands. But in our final class, each student thought of themselves as a photographer capable of expressing even the most complex concepts. Besides the personal and professional growth I’ve experienced myself, this was just one of the more tangible indications that my time in Nablus was worthwhile and incredibly positive.

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It was difficult to say goodbye but the friendships I’ve developed and the contribution I’ve made to TYO’s mission will stay with me for a long time to come.

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- Zak

Zak is a Fall 2013 intern at TYO in Nablus.