Life May Not Always Be a Party, But While Here, Let's Dance... Dabka!

Life for a vast number of human beings all over the world may not be the party they hoped for. The road to success is wild, unexpected and plenty of obstacles to overcome. My Colombian compatriots, just like my new Palestinian friends here at Tomorrow’s Youth Organization, understand the meaning of being challenged by life day in and day out and this is why I believe we connected from the very beginning. Since the moment I arrived in Nablus, I got enchanted by the smiles and energy of the people, their kindness and their powerful will to help each other. One thing I admire about my local colleagues and students is their capacity to look on the bright side of everything, I am glad that is really contagious.


Despite challenges of all sorts, people’s characters and personalities here are shaped with a touch of determination, resilience, and lust for life. I had heard of success stories and heroic deeds resulting from an endless desire to make an impact on societies; however, the stories I have heard and learned here during a little bit more than two months have nothing to envy. They are experienced and harmoniously told by some of the most amazing humans I have ever had the chance to interact with. And these are the stories that I would like the world to hear, these are the stories I would like this wonderful country to be known for. Today, I am happy I had the opportunity to get an insight of what it means to be a Falestini, through their kanafeh and their maklubeh, through their dabke and their chobee, through their beautiful music and language; today I feel one of them.


My work at TYO was always full of strong feelings. Waking up every morning from Monday to Thursday for the course with my team of upper elementary students was a real pleasure. Arriving in the classroom and see how happy they were coming to learn, the activities and exercises, the great atmosphere and positive vibes, the moments of laughter, the confessions, the breaks we shared together learning from each other about our lives and dreams made me feel as part of the family, priceless moments no doubt. The words of acknowledgements, their creative presents, the spontaneous Arabic lessons, the crazy selfies and videos, the colorful posters, the interviews, our volleyball and football games, their will to attend the courses no matter what; are just a tiny part of what made this experience one the most rewarding experiences of my entire life. Who would have imagined we would reach such levels of connection?. I wouldn’t, at least not before I set foot in one of the most ancient cities in the world.


My experience as an ESL fellow at TYO will soon come to an end but our friendship and the great memories will last for decades. I am satisfied and happy with the outcomes of my mission here with my local colleagues and students, and my only wish is to see them all again and follow up on their progress, they have a lot to offer this world, they only need opportunities, opportunities like the ones TYO provides to Palestinian children and youth.

- Leandro, Summer 2016 EFL Fellow

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.