From China to Palestine: An Unexpected Journey
Life called me to TYO as I finished up my experience working with Peace Corps in China. I was drawn to the fellowship position as it combined both of my passions: education and experiencing the cultures of the world. As the taxi brought me into Nablus for my first time the wind was blowing into the car and the call to prayer began as it was 5:00 in the morning. All I can remember is an overwhelming feeling that once again life had brought me to the exact place I needed to be.
Following your passion, a career versus a job, are you working everyday for a paycheck or do you love what you do? To me this was a journey over the past few years as I made the move from corporate career to working in the nonprofit sector. When I first decided to take the leap and leave corporate America behind several years ago so I could join Peace Corps I never thought it would lead to a new career. Two years later it became clear to me that corporate America would not be able to beckon me back anytime soon. Learning to appreciate what education can do in the lives of others has inspired me to continue down this road and make it into my own career.
Now multiple weeks into teaching at TYO, I know my journey in the world of international education will continue. The time I have spent teaching students in the STEP! II EFL program has been amazing. Just today we spent time making masks to wear to celebrate Halloween. Of course as soon as that ended we wound up playing some volleyball. This is consistently a favorite activity with my students. Working in the field of International Education has been an incredible blessing in my life. Every day I am working with young adults eager to try and better themselves. The students are attempting to better themselves in hopes that they will eventually be able to have the jobs that they dream of. During these five weeks, we have spent a total of 80 hours in class working together to develop their skills by covering topics such as introductions, community, careers, and human rights. We have played endless games and done multiple activities in an attempt to make these topics fun and interesting. This is what I love about my time here, seeing these students express themselves individually and as a class has been amazing. Learning a little bit about their lives and trying to understand how I can help them best with their journey of learning English is amazing.
I am so happy that I have a career that directly relates to what I am most passionate about. Being able to spend three months in Palestine working with these amazing students is something I would have never even imagined five years ago. Every day I am inspired by the people I meet and am able to interact with. Whether it is my students, new friends that work with the Youth Service Learning program as local volunteers, or just hearing a story from someone I meet while traveling- their stories are priceless. This experience has really pushed me to continue this work and to stay focused on how education can impact someone’s life. Thank-you TYO and Palestine for letting me have this experience!
– Leah, Fall 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.