Youth In Focus: An Interview with Shurooq A.

Shurooq, originally from Nablus, is married with 5 children. She owns her own small business, Nawa’em Art. Shurooq began creating stained glass home décor as a hobby 12 years ago, but through a micro loan and TYO’s Women’s Incubation Services for Entrepreneurs II (WISE II) Program, she has been able to expand her business from exclusively glass to now wood and ceramics. She sells her art to the public through craft fairs and specialty orders. This is her first session as a volunteer. DSC_0098

You participated in TYO’s WISE II Program, why did you decide to volunteer in the Core Child Program instead of continuing with other TYO business incubation programs?

I learned so much through the WISE II program; therefore, I believe it is now my turn to give back to TYO. Volunteering with the children is how I want to do that, and I am also able to learn new skills in the Core Child Program. TYO offers so many different opportunities for professional and personal development, that I wanted to branch out and experience a variety of opportunities.

First, as a volunteer I am exposed to the different personalities of the children while getting to help them with the art and crafts. This is teaching me different ways to engage children through art and grow my business. The more I learn about the environments the children come from the more I understand what appeals to them and what makes them happy. I’ve begun to consider ways to branch out my business and I would like to start working with preschools and kindergartens. There are ways to decorate classrooms to make them inviting and comfortable, but also help the students tap into their emotions. I see how TYO incorporates psychosocial growth through art projects to help children express their identities and their emotions; I would like to help bring those aspects into Palestinian schools.

The second reason I wanted to volunteer is my love of children. Through volunteering I am becoming a more patient and am learning how to manage my frustrations with my own children. I’m learning new techniques for dealing with difficult children and their behaviors. I wanted to find a way to combine my two passions art and children. TYO is helping me bring those two worlds together.

You have so many different roles you balance, many of which extend beyond your responsibilities at home, how do you manage them and how does your family feel about it?

My personality helps me a lot! I always have to be moving and active and if I have free time I will be doing something productive - it’s a waste of time if I’m not. I am very lucky that I can manage my business at home. The glass, wood, and ceramics I work with can all be painted in my house! I have always been a stay at home mom, so I was able to figure out ways to manage my time early on. After I started coming to TYO my days became more organized because I had to develop a schedule. I am able to see the big picture of each day and allot time accordingly. Though it’s a lot work already, I would like to take theTawjihi (Palestinian matriculation exam) again and go to university as soon as next year.  My time at TYO has helped me realize how important education is and I would very much like to continue mine.

The biggest challenge is not managing my family responsibilities, but balancing my personal life - I am tired a lot! I find the time at TYO to be relaxing and this is my time. I thoroughly enjoy this. I have found a great system to keep my family happy, to uphold my responsibilities as a wife and mother, and as a business owner. My family is not giving me a hard time for coming to TYO or for working on my art/business. They support me by trusting that I can get it all done.

Ultimately, I consider myself an active person. I love to move and I think time is money. I would feel guilty if I just sat at home and did nothing. Working is more important to me. I know that making connections at TYO will also help me grow my client base.  I am also seeking out more consistent work, this is where going to university would help me I am ready to learn anything I want to be more helpful in the community. I feel I have so many different ways I can give back. Nothing is impossible in this world and I want to see what I can do.

This interview was conducted and translated by Sarah Fodero, Fall 2015 Intern and Futoon Qadri, Outreach Coordinator