Youth in Focus: An Interview with Nour A.

Nour A. is a new volunteer in our Core Spring 2015 session. Born and raised in Nablus, Nour graduated from An-Najah National University in Spring 2014 with a major in Sociology and Social Service.

1. What made you apply to STEP!?

Whenever people in Nablus hear the name Tomorrow’s Youth Organization, they recognize it as a leader in our city for supporting children and youth. I used to hear a lot about the STEP! volunteer program from other students in university and how it has helped them. I’m also someone who loves trying new things; during university, I volunteered on projects with youth and the elderly, but I had never worked with young children before. TYO’s youth program is known in the Najah student community as a great opportunity for those who want to volunteer and build workplace skills; unlike other workplaces in the city, volunteers at TYO are treated on the level of employees because of their important role in classes.

2. What career do you hope to pursue, and how do think STEP! will help you?

I’m very interested in education, either working as a teacher or social worker in public schools or working at a policy level. I know that working in TYO’s Core Early Childhood program will build my personality and skills for working with children. Although it’s only my second day in the classroom, between the psychosocial training we completed last week and these two days, I feel like STEP! has opened my eyes in terms of discipline, commitment, and specific skills I need for work. When I entered the first class, I felt like all of my senses were alert; I carefully observed the children and I’m learning to think on my feet and react appropriately to new situations.

3. What is the greatest challenge youth like you face in the current job market?

I am sure that most graduates who are unemployed and cannot find a job would say “Vitamin W” meaning wasta [an Arabic word that loosely translates to “clout” or “corruption”]. But I also believe that wasta is not the only thing holding us back. Some of the responsibility also needs to go on ourselves, as youth, for not developing our skills – for example English language abilities – to get a job in the current market. We write CVs empty of skills and experience, and then we wonder why we cannot find jobs. Also, salaries in this country are very low; for me personally, I prefer a great volunteer experience over a poor work experience with a low salary, which I would anyway spend on transportation. But at the same time, I know that is not sustainable.

4. What do you think your generation can do to overcome that challenge?

Maybe we cannot change wasta overnight, but there are things we can control: for example, developing our skills, our work personality, and our language abilities. We have to be eager to take any opportunity to improve and to show future employers that we are qualified for work.

5. If there was one skill you wish you had, what would it be and why?

There are many important skills I want to work on, but I think my IT skills need the most improvement. Specifically, I want to take a course in Al-Shamel Program for Accounting, Visual Basics, and SPSS. Most of the jobs I am applying for require that.

- Interviewed by Futoon Qadri, Outreach Coordinator