Intern Journal: The Journey Never Ends

Our Summer 2015 International Intern Ash Calderon returns to the United States this week after serving as an intern with the Core Child Program for two months.  Read on to learn more about her experiences and the lessons she'll be taking with her as she leaves TYO and Nablus. I can remember the anxiety I felt as a nearly graduated senior at the University of Redlands; the anxiety of 4 years of sleepless nights, hard work, and Cup-of-Noodles, ultimately resulting in what kind of job I could get as soon as I graduated. I knew many recent graduates identified with this feeling, and that I wasn’t alone, but somehow amidst that awareness, the weight of knowing that the culmination of my 4 years was supposed to be for something was daunting. And I still felt so far away from figuring out what that something was or could be.

It was a relief when my good friend and former TYO Intern, Jade, sent me the link for the TYO International Internship application.   With her blessing, I went ahead and applied. I remember the nervousness I felt playing the “waiting game.” I probably checked my email twenty times a day just to see if there was an update on my status. Soon enough, I got a response, an interview, and an acceptance. Now as I sit here and write, it’s mind blowing to think that this journey, as the TYO International Intern, began two months ago.

My internship, although short, was nothing short of an amazing experience. I gained a new sense of awareness of my environment and of myself. As puzzling as it may be to some, I had no awareness on the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and in learning much more about it, I have found myself becoming more passionate and driven about a cause that has grown near and dear to my heart. As I added this to my list of Causes, I became more goal-oriented and began to wake up every morning thinking, how can I change the world today?

Although the environment I am currently living in is under occupation, it was uplifting to be around an amazing staff and amazing teachers that make it a point everyday to wake up with smiles, ready for the fun-filled day here at TYO and with the Core Child Program. I can’t say that one person has affected me more than the other but certainly each staff member here has a quality that has stuck out in my mind enough for me to be inspired and want to continue my personal erudition in order to emulate who they are and what they represent.

What I am amazed by most is the community here; we are Team TYO, a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens with a mission in mind to positively impact our community. What a pleasure it has been to work directly with these amazing people and I’m happy to say that I’ll always be a team member, especially because I have a family here in Palestine ready to welcome me back.

Suhad, our Psychosocial Program Manager, has a perfect saying that describes how I feel, “Your journey did not begin when you came here; it begins when you leave.” Truer words have never been said. My journey of personal growth began when I arrived two months ago and my new journey as a global ambassador begins once I leave the gate of TYO return to the U.S.

Summer 2015 International Intern Ash Calderon enjoys some fun in the sun on a field day with Core program children.

I am thankful that TYO’s mission exposed me to a world that I was not aware of. I am thankful that TYO instilled more passion in me and the confidence I needed to continue to fight for what is right and just. I am thankful for a new family, friends, and a home that I get to call mine. I am thankful for TYO because they helped me find purpose in my life—the purpose I had been thinking about for 4 years. Now, I know that what I want to do is work for an organization like TYO and to again have the opportunity to work with committed individuals and to make change. Lastly, I am thankful for the privilege of being able to embark on a new journey—it’s been quite a ride—and the best part about it is that the journey never ends.

-Summer 2015 International Intern Ash Calderon