Youth in Focus: An Interview with Anwar J.

Anwar J. is from Asira Ash-Shamaliya, a town just north of Nablus.  In 2011, she graduated from An Najah National University with a B.A. in Arabic Language. She has since worked in a variety of positions in both the private sector and Palestinian media outlets. Anwar2

What sparked your interest in TYO's Youth Service Learning Program? How did you hear about the program?

I heard about TYO’s Youth Service Learning Program while I was working for a local television station. A friend of mine who previously worked as a Core teacher at TYO visited me at work and talked about her experience at the center. Hearing directly from her about the impact that the Core program has on children and the important role volunteers play in the classroom, I was immediately interested in applying. It also sounded like the experience and knowledge I would gain from volunteering could help me obtain a better job than the one I held at the time. Soon after our conversation, I visited TYO to apply.

What are your career goals and how do you think TYO’s Youth Service Learning program will help you reach those?

I love working with children, and I believe strongly that children here have a right to a better education, so I am interested in teaching at the pre-school or elementary-grade level. I joined TYO because I believe in the approach to education here, especially the emphasis on growing a child’s personality. Through volunteering at TYO, I gained greater confidence in the importance of learning through play for a child’s mental and physical development. I plan to take what I learn here and transfer that to my future work in the classroom.

On a more general level, volunteering at TYO has certainly made me a more patient and understanding person, especially when it comes to listening to and understanding children’s needs.

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

In university, I was so focused on completing my degree requirements that I was not thinking about my next step. When I graduated, I faced the harsh reality that most graduates face here – we graduate lacking work experience, making it almost impossible to get accepted for any job or internship post-graduation.

Also, gender issues are a serious and deeply-rooted problem in our society. Employers see female applicants in a different way than male applicants, and even if you are able to find a job as a woman, you face fear of workplace harassment and lack of safety. That is why many women tend towards certain “safe” positions, and ultimately limit themselves, rather than going after more challenging or interesting work that they are well-qualified for.

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

Regarding the issue of work experience, students need to actively focus on adding experience to their CVs early on in college; additionally, college professors and mentors need to emphasize the importance of practical experience to complement our degrees.

Regarding the issues for women, I think ultimately we limit ourselves when we carry that fear. It is tough to say how we can overcome that – even if I were to fight against gender discrimination in the workplace, my family and community would still stand in my way.

If there was one skill you could improve (English, IT, etc.), what would it be and why?

English has been my weakest subject throughout my life, and I did not practice enough when I was younger. I am aware now that English is a global language and one required for most jobs here. I hope to improve my English through interacting with the foreigners and staff at TYO.

- Interviewed by Futoon Qadri, Outreach Coordinator