Youth in Focus: An Interview with Asmaa Qasqas

Asmaa gives her student a star sticker for completing a worksheet in Arabic class!Asmaa Qasqas a volunteer in the Core Child Program and a graduate from An-Najah National University shares her experience as a TYO volunteer.. What made you interested in STEP!?

I was initially interested in TYO and STEP! because I wanted to develop my employment skills, such as time management and communication. I heard that TYO has very high expectations of program participants, and it is through the demands of the program that I have learned to better manage my time. Formerly I was shy and reluctant to engage with my peers, but TYO has given me the confidence I needed to better communicate my thoughts and opinions.

Though I have  been volunteering with TYO for only three months, I have already begun to notice changes in my interactions with peers. In the past I have not been very assertive, but with the start of this new session I caught myself giving advise to some of the new volunteers - only a few months ago I was the one receiving advice!   Even my mom has commented on the changes in my behavior. Just recently I've started to give tips and tricks to my sister as to how to best address various issues. The volunteer program at TYO requires all participants to be quick on their feet and develop strong problem solving skills, as days are never completely predictable when working with children.

Have you volunteered before, and how did you hear about TYO?

I had never volunteered prior to my experience at TYO earlier this Spring. I enjoyed the expereince so much that I decided to come back for summer. I learned about TYO through a friend.

What do you hope to do as a career and how do you think this will help you?

I’m planning to work as an English teacher. This job requires people to be more patient with the students in order to convey the message. TYO helped me to be more patient with children because I can now get along with children and developed my skills in this field. For example, I learnt how to deal with children in a young age, so I’m now confident to say that I have some techniques to be more patient. Moreover, this career needs a person with leadership skills in order to manage the classroom. I learned at TYO how to develop my leadership skills with not only the children but also with my peers as well as the staff.

What is the greatest challenge for youth like you in the current labor market?

I think that the general lack of English and IT skills amongst youth is the greatest impediment to employment. Additionally, too many of my peers still struggle in mixed gender settings. This greatly inhibits them from forming strong professional networks, only further hindering their access to gainful employment. I feel that the experience I get at TYO is really helpful in this regard as it allows me to practice hard skills, as well as much needed communication and social skills with my peers.

Where do you hope to be 5 years from now?

I aspire to be an English teacher.  I’m currently tutoring kids in my neighborhood, but want to be a formal teacher. Though my experience at TYO I know if I work hard enough I will be able to make this dream a reality.

Interview conducted by Volunteer Coordinator, Ruba

The Student Training and Employment Program (STEP!) – is funded by the Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation.