TYO Core Teacher and Volunteer Alumni: Where Are They Now?
Ahmad Bshara graduated from An-Najah University in January 2012 with a BA in English Language and Literature. During his time as a university student, some of his friends who were volunteering at TYO told him about the volunteer program and encouraged him to apply. “I was like, sure I want to work with foreigners and improve my language. So, I applied here to work as a translator with American interns.” Ahmad became a volunteer for TYO’s after school programming in conjunction with our International Internship Program and quickly saw what a special place TYO is. “I thought I would be here for maybe 2 months. But, after I started, I realized I couldn’t leave! The people were so encouraging and supportive.” After becoming a teacher with TYO’s Core Child Program, he decided to apply to be a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) in the U.S. and credits TYO’s staff with helping him apply and supporting him in the process. “They even helped me with getting my visa.”
Ahmad returned to Nablus four weeks ago after completing a 9 month intensive Fulbright FLTA program, teaching Arabic and taking graduate-level courses at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. Read on to learn more about his experiences, motivations, and advice for Palestinian youth.
Why were you motivated to do the Fulbright program?
A friend of mine, Mohammed Abulkibash (also a TYO alumnus), went and did Fulbright and recommended it. I looked it up on the internet and found it interesting since I got to teach while also taking graduate courses.
What did you learn about the United States during your time there?
The culture was my highlight. There's a whole variety of cultures in the US. That’s one thing I really loved about it. We don’t have many varieties of culture here in Nablus. I also learned a lot about the education system in America. How you teach in America is totally different. The relationship between the student and the professor is totally different. They motivate you. I really didn’t have any free time there because they gave me the motivation to work hard all of the time.
What have you learned about yourself?
A lot of things changed in me. How I see the world, how I accept other people, how I’m open-minded about new ideas, different cultures, it just opened my mind to see the world differently.
What are your goals now that you’ve completed your Fulbright program?
My goal for now is to just focus on my education. I want to study more. I want to get a degree of course. And, I want to go back to America someday. I’m most interested in studying linguistics, sociology, philosophy, or theology.
What advice would you give to Palestinian youth?
Accept differences. It’s actually something I’m trying to work on right here in our society, especially after I got back from the US. We need to accept other cultures, different people, and we need to get out and see other cultures. We need to accept others for who they are. I really want to work on that in our society and in Nablus.
-TYO Alumnus Ahmad interviewed by International Internship and Fellowship Coordinator Emma Stensvaag