Limited in Choices, Not Strength
The ability to have options and choose what is best for me often leads me to the question, “Do I really want that?” In my 23 years of life I have made many decisions; what university I would like to attend, what I would like my major to be, where I would like to live. I have visited Palestine numerous times in the past, but I wanted to come and experience life working and living in Nablus. Life in Nablus for a Palestinian is very different than life in the United States as a Palestinian American. People from Nablus, especially young adults seeking to have the future they dream of, are limited in the number of choices available to them. If it weren’t for my brilliant father and amazing mother, I would be living in Palestine with same limitations. Before making the choice to join the TYO team, I asked myself, “Where is the need?” I felt duty and desire to help my people, so I made the choice to live, teach, and experience life in Nablus.
Individuals who are building a career think about their long-term goals and what they can do now to make those goals happen in the future. The real question is how do you start a career with extremely limited choices and a declining job market? A poll done by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) in 2014 shows that the unemployment rate among graduates aged 20-29 is up to 54.7% in the West Bank. Limited in opportunities and resources, students do not have much flexibility in selecting options that provide them with the future they strive for. One limitation is the English language. The students who can communicate in English have a broader job market availability, thus more choice when selecting a job.
Tomorrow’s Youth Organization understands this problem and has incorporated an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) curriculum for young adults at the Center. Through the STEP! II Program, native English speakers from America and Canada are enthusiastically helping meet this need by teaching intensive EFL classes. By using non-traditional teaching methods, TYO has created an environment for the students where they feel comfortable to learn as well as express themselves creatively as individuals.
I asked some of my students why they chose to come to TYO and why improving their English skills is important to them. Bakir Issa said, “I want to learn English in hopes of one day working in Germany. My grandfather worked in BMW in Germany, my goals are to follow in his footsteps. English is a must in order to achieve that goal.” Ahmad Essa stated, “I come to TYO to learn English because I would love to travel to foreign countries.” Student Mohammad Thouqan said, “English is what we use in school, and without knowledge of the subject we will fail. Failure is not an option.”
For the students at Tomorrow’s Youth, the choices available to them are limited. However, they have taken action to improve skills necessary to give them more options for their future. They are determined and faithfully come to TYO to be provided an education to have hope for a better future. They actively seek a future that is different from the limited opportunities around them. We believe that through their commitment, motivation, and hard work, they can achieve a future that will provide them the happiness and tranquility that they strive for.
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.
Dana, Zahi Khouri Fellow, Spring 2016