Every New Beginning Comes from Some Other Beginning's End

I have sat in front of my computer, writing and re-writing the first sentence to my farewell TYO blog countless times. How do I synthesize and summarize my last two months as a Zahi Khouri Fellow? How can I adequately communicate what a gift this experience has been?  What I have come to realize is that sometimes words betray the heart. Nevertheless, here goes… Merely four months ago I was casually scrolling idealist.org. I came across an announcement for a Zahi Khouri Fellowship position for Palestinian-Americans interested in working in the West Bank. I was dubious at first, but applied to TYO’s two-month fellowship.  I applied for and was eventually offered the position. I panicked. Should I accept it? What if I didn’t like it? What if it was the wrong move?

I called a friend of mine who had interned at TYO years ago. I had countless questions: Did she like the work? Did she like the people she worked with? What was it like to live in Nablus? Did she think I should do it? After reflecting on our conversation, I decided to take a chance. I accepted the position and haven’t looked back since.

In the past two months I have had the honor and opportunity to teach a three-week Business English and Computer/IT intensive to TYO’s WISE II entrepreneurs, teach eight weeks of fitness and nutrition classes to our Women’s Group, and teach English to 7-8 year old children in our Core Child Program. I have absolutely loved having hands-on experience with multiple generations of TYO’s constituencies. It has helped me better understand the needs of the community as well as how TYO seeks to address those needs.


In addition to working at TYO, I have had the honor of eating many delicious meals in people’s homes, traveling to beneficiaries’ villages, and exploring the many nooks and crannies of Palestine on the weekends. I have loved all of my weekend adventures yet it felt so good to come back to TYO at the end of each sojourn.


In fact, I am pleased to say that I am not saying farewell but am only saying “See you soon!” After completing my Zahi Khouri fellowship, I will be joining TYO’s team as the Women’s Empowerment Project Manager this summer. I have forged an extra special bond with the women of TYO and am thrilled to come back to start my next chapter with the organization and the brilliant women it serves.


See you soon, TYO!

- Vanessa, Zahi Khouri Fellow