Youth in Focus: An Interview with Somaya M.

Somayya M. is from Sarra, a village outside of Nablus. In 2014, she graduated from An Najah National University with a bachelor’s degree in Medical Laboratory Sciences. AMkids

How did you hear about TYO, and what sparked your interest in TYO’s Youth Service Learning Program?

While in university, I took an English language course with Denise, one of the interns in TYO’s international internship program. Through the experience, I became very interested in volunteering at TYO and specifically working with the international interns in order to improve my English. I applied and was accepted as a volunteer in the early childhood education program this spring. I was excited to learn that TYO offers various trainings for volunteers to improve their employability skills.

What are your career goals, and how do you believe TYO’s YSL program will help you achieve those?

My goal is to work as a technician in a medical lab. Some might say that working in early childhood education has nothing to do with my medical laboratory studies; however, from my experience at TYO thus far, I know that I am building skills that will help me wherever I go in my career or personal life – for example, English language skills, problem solving, teamwork, and time management. Additionally, in the lab I will need to work with children who are nervous or scared, and at TYO I am learning many valuable skills on how to communicate with kids. Personally, I am much more confident in my ability to make good decisions as a future parent and to deal appropriately with my children’s behavior and needs.

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

Work opportunities in the north are very limited, much more so than opportunities in cities like Ramallah or Bethlehem. Additionally, family restrictions and a gender discrimination in our society limit our ability as women to travel and/or live in other cities for work; we are either forbidden from working in other cities, or even if we are allowed, we have to pay much more to cover the daily transportation to and from those cities. It is particularly challenging for me since lab and hospital work often involves working night shifts, which is not accepted by my family or community.

Another major issue is that there are many legal protections for those who have held their position in a company for many years (for example, 30-35 years) regardless of their skills, and that seriously limits opportunities for fresh graduates who may have better or more modern skills.

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

The most important thing is for us to continue learning and developing our skills to prove to employers that we  – as women, as fresh graduates, and as applicants from the north – can compete with our counterparts. We need to put in much more work than others to prove our motivation and commitment.

If there was one skill you wish you had (English, IT, etc) what would it be and why?

My English is stronger than most but not nearly as good as a native speaker. I want to be fluent, and I hope that working at TYO and interacting with the international staff will help me to improve. I also want to improve my written communication and management skills.

- Interviewed by Futoon Qadri, Outreach Coordinator