Khadija Shorfa: Small Steps Today for Big Dreams Tomorrow

Khadija Shorfa is from Beita, a small town outside of Nablus. She graduated from An-Najah University in 2013 with a Bachelor of Art degree in Psychology. Being a part of the STEP! II EFL program is the first time she has been a part of TYO. EFL student Khadija poses for a photo before her class.

What motivated you to sign up for TYO's EFL classes?

I joined the EFL program at TYO because my English needs to be improved. In the English classes at public school, the curriculum was ok and my grades were high. Once I finished high school and started to study psychology at the university, all the classes for my degree were in Arabic. I started to be detached from the English language and my skills started to get weaker. I was busy finishing my degree, so I didn’t have time to study English. Now that I have graduated, it is an opportunity for me to study English again.

English is a global language. It is used all over the world. It is the common language used at universities for international students during their studies. I am considering continuing my education toward a master’s degree. All the information and research on computers is in English in both Palestine and abroad. It became urgent after my graduation for me to work on my English skills if I want to continue my education.

How would you describe your experience learning English in the STEP! II program? How is it different than what you experienced before?

EFL classes at TYO are different than other English programs because the methods they are using to teach the language is interesting and not boring. The activities and group work help the students to enjoy the class. Also, the teacher gives all the students the chance to participate while taking into consideration the learning differences for each student. This gives each student the opportunity to learn the information by actually practicing the skill. The classroom environment is encouraging for students to acquire the language.

My teacher started a book club for our class that meets after our regular English class. For each Thursday, the students are given an amount of a book or short story in English to finish reading. We started off reading Fahrenheit 451. It is a way to not only learn English, but also to increase the amount we read because reading is not a habit for us.

What has been the greatest impact of the first few weeks of EFL classes for you?

The EFL program has helped me to develop personal skills. During university, I was very shy and didn’t participate in the class. At TYO, the EFL teacher helps the classroom to be a safe and encouraging environment. Now I participate in the class activities and I am more social, more confident, and less shy. I feel more energetic, so I can continue to work on English at home after class. I read books in English, watch movies without the subtitles, and try to hear the language more without seeing the written words. I am excited to see how my skills improve. If my English skills continue to need more work after this sessions ends, I am interested in joining next session.

What are your personal and professional goals, and how will learning English help you achieve those?

The plans for my future are to finish my Master’s and PhD degrees and become a professor at a university. I also want to be a well known writer. To reach both of these goals, I need to improve my English.

I love to write. I write essays and publish them in magazines for youth. I am now working on a short novel in Arabic. My English teacher, Lyndsey, is encouraging me to keep writing because she sees me as someone who is inspiring. I want to start writing in English once my English is good enough.

For my higher education, I have applied for a scholarship to study in Turkey. If that doesn’t work, I will apply for a scholarship to study in Britain. If neither are a success, I will work and save money to finish my education outside Palestine in the future. I want to study abroad because there are more options and the teaching techniques are not traditional. The education models are modern and updated each year. I want to expose myself to other experiences. Traveling outside of Palestine will allow me to be more open minded. When people have new experiences, they learn more about other people and other countries.

What advice would you give to youth English language learners like you?

Everyone one of us has something unique and special inside of us. We have to find that special thing, work on it, and show our talents to the world. We must empower and develop that skill to fulfill our dreams. Every one of us should have a dream and the power to work toward it. We should never let other people, the environment, or the situation around us stop us from fulfilling our dreams.

 

The English as a Foreign Language (EFL) program is part of STEP! II, a youth employability, empowerment, and community leadership initiative supported by Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation.

Interview conducted by Lindsey, International Internship & Fellowship Coordinator, and translated by Futoon, Outreach Coordinator