Reflecting on Progress

Children in the Core Child Program are now actively engaged in classes and happily work with each other. The Spring 2014 Core Child program came to an end last week. We spent the last 12 weeks working with children from some of Nablus’s most disadvantaged areas. The activities we implemented in our classes were designed to help children develop socially, with the goal of having them learn to appreciate their role and value within their communities.

We’ve addressed two main themes in our holistic early education classes: Me & My Community, and Communication and Collaboration. As Core teachers we work as a team to root values in children such as respect and collaboration, and design lesson plans aimed at improving different skills sets in children, such as problem solving and critical thinking. It has been very important for us to make children feel that they are valuable, respected, and part of a larger community, which helps improve their sense of belonging.

On account of the success of English language classes offered to our Core children last fall, we decided to include Arabic language learning classes as well for our youngest kids this session. Through this experience, our children taught us that they are ready and have the potential to learn, and our job as a team is to open opportunities and new experiences for them to learn.

The last 12 weeks have flown by for me and as I reflect on this time I am reminded of the challenges faced in the first weeks and the resulting sense of accomplishment I now feel for having helped my kids through those first few weeks, especially when they were really facing a lot of issues with attachment. Children were hard to engage in the beginning, and even some of them did not speak at all. For some, it was the first time in their lives that they left their refugee camps or neighborhoods. It took us a while to build their trust and show them through ourselves that someone outside their homes can be a role model, as well as those in their families, too.

For me, a proud emotional moment as a teacher at TYO was when I saw progress in children who previously were silent, but opened up throughout the session. There are three kids in particular I was always thinking about- whether at work or at home, I was always wondering when these children would smile, or at least give me one word. When they at last smiled, and by week 7 asked me to hold their hands, I felt immense satisfaction. Even children in my classes that exhibited more severe emotional issues and had spent considerable time with TYO’s Psychosocial Program Manager made progress by the end of the session and began engaging more when they were in the class. This was partially a result of the close collaboration we working with the families of these children to find solutions to their struggles.

I feel proud as a teacher and as a TYO staff member that we’ve had a small impact on children and have been able to help guide them to find happiness in themselves, and security.

This program - as part of Student Training and Employment Program (STEP!) - is sponsored in part by the Abdul Hamid Shoman Foundation.

-Core Child Teacher, Mufeeda