Youth In Focus: An Interview with Asmaa H.

Asmaa is from Beit Imreen, a village outside of Nablus. She graduated from An-Najah University in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in Arabic Teaching Methods. Asmaa

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

I heard about TYO from my friends who had previously volunteered here. They told me how much they enjoyed working with children in TYO’s education programs and how helpful the experience had been in developing them both personally and professionally. I thought it would be a great opportunity, particularly for me to get experience working with children since I know it is  a huge responsibility and takes very specific skills.

What are your career goals, and how do you think volunteering at TYO will help you reach those?

I studied Arabic Language Teaching Methods and would eventually like to work in education. Volunteering at TYO has given me the opportunity not only to observe experienced teachers but also to get real classroom experience myself. I have learned so much just by observing and helping the teachers, everything from how to talk to children when they are upset, to how you can make activities more effective by dividing children into groups.

Beyond teaching skills, volunteering at TYO has taught me how to communicate clearly with both children and adults and how to work on a team and learn from other teachers and supervisors. I have also greatly appreciated TYO’s mixed gender environment, where boys and girls are integrated in the same classes and male and female volunteers work together in those classrooms. That is not something you would typically see in Nablus or in Palestine overall. It has taught me a lot as a future teacher, particularly how you can use mixed gender classrooms to increase the confidence of girls and teach them that they are equal in their abilities to boys.

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

For most of us, English is the greatest barrier we face when searching for jobs. Although we study English from a young age, the curriculum and way of teaching is poor, and therefore we grow up with very limited English skills. Additionally, most employers have an inherent gender bias. They see men as more serious and committed and women as more focused on marriage and raising their children. As women, we need to prove our level of commitment through our actions and choices.

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

The education system is not going to change overnight, so we need to take the initiative ourselves to improve our English. Additionally, we as women need to show that we take our careers seriously, as women across the world do, and make a clear balance in our lives between marriage and caring for a family, and pursuing our education and career goals.

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

Other than English, I need to improve my public speaking skills and become more comfortable speaking in front of an audience. I have seen how important English and communication skills are for any field and any job.