The Heart of Palestine

Before arriving in Palestine, I had read and heard many stories of the warmth of the people, and the beauty of its landscapes. I expected that I would be met with the friendly faces of the people working at TYO, and that I would enjoy taking in my new surroundings. I thought that these expectations put me in good stead for my 3 months here. Yet, after just two weeks of the internship, I am still often overwhelmed by the reality of my experiences in Nablus.

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Who Says Grey Isn't a Warm Color?

Before I had even formally arrived at the TYO building, I was introduced to the hospitality of Nablus. I arrived in the early hours of the morning when few reasonable people are awake, yet I was greeted by one of the school’s security guards when I drove through the gate. As I unloaded by bags and was led upstairs to my new home, it was explained to me that the guard had voluntarily stayed after his shift in order to welcome and greet the new intern for the session. This unbelievable thoughtful and kind gesture soon proved to be the rule, and not the exception for Nablus. 

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Giggles and Splashes

Growing up in Southern Illinois, swimming was a central part of summer activities. Each spring was spent in anticipation of the time when days would become warm enough to jump into water and play with friends. In this region of the United States, the high number of lakes, rivers, and ponds also make swimming skills necessary for safety. My parents made it their mission to ensure I participated in swim lessons from a young age.

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Singing and Dancing My Way Through Nablus

On my third day at TYO I spotted a guitar in the corner of an office. I could feel my heart beating faster with excitement as I asked if I could use the instrument and was delighted with the positive response. It was a small acoustic guitar that was perpetually out of tune, but simply having it brought me too much joy to care about the slightly off sound.

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From the TV Screen Straight to the Heart

Over the past two years, the term refugee has moved from humanitarian development circles into living rooms around the world as international crisis and crisis force men, women, and children to flee their homes for safety. From the flicker of the television screen and cultural, linguistic, political, and religious divides, it can be difficult to process the lives of those living as refugees. 

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Nablus: A Hidden Paradise

One of my favorite new Arabic words that I’ve learned in Nablus is bejannan. A local staff member at TYO translated this word to me as a descriptor for something so overwhelmingly beautiful that it incites madness in onlookers. When I think of Nablus, I think, “Bejannan.” There is so much beauty in this city— in its people, in its landscape, in the rich culture of Palestinians—and TYO will always hold a special place in my heart for giving me the opportunity to be here.

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Goodbye Nablus, at Least for Now

Being assigned to write a blog regarding my experiences here in Palestine is something which I find to be deceiving in its façade of simplicity. How to encapsulate three busy and complex months’ worth of adventures and thoughts so abstract from my daily life at home in a way that conveys the true process and learning that I have had is difficult. Reflecting on being an intern at TYO is like rapidly flicking through a photo album without a pause for thought

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Lonely No More: An Interview With Minna

Minna is 3rd grade student from the neighborhood of Khallet al Amood. She heard about TYO from her friends at school. The students were enrolled in the Core program and told Minna about the activities they do and how fun they have at TYO. After hearing about the opportunity to play with other kids her age, Minna decided to register for the Core Child Program. This is Minna’s first session at TYO.

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From Head to Heart: A Journey into Nablus

In her acclaimed Ted Talk on the power of vulnerability, Brene Brown, explains that the human experiences of courage, authenticity, empathy, and connection are deeply interconnected to vulnerability and shame. In short, courage and authenticity are born from the willingness to lay our guards down and step into our vulnerabilities, essentially opening our hearts and expressing how we feel, instead of numbing ourselves from the dark, messy aspects of our lives that make us feel shame. Unfortunately, when we shut ourselves away from the “bad,” we also miss out on the “good” and the best experiences that life has to offer, such as love and joy.

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Oh, the Knafeh!

I have lived in this region before, but moved back to America for about two years.  In that time, I hadn’t returned, but coming to TYO I felt like I was returning to a second home.  Though I have visited Nablus and lived in the region before, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Two years is just long enough for everything and nothing to change at the same time.

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Earth Day Everyday

Art is a universal method of communication that does not depend upon language or structure to share a message. At TYO, the importance of art as a form of expression and source of joy can  be viewed throughout the building through paintings, photographs, and creative projects. Participants across TYO's programs have the opportunity to create and build their message through various art projects with special emphasis placed on using recycled materials.

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A Home Away From Home, But With More Hummus

So, where to start? Nablus, here I am. It’s almost as if I have been dropped here from the sky like the human icon from Google Maps is, straight from Western Europe but naturally without the dragging aspect. At first glance, Nablus is almost like a scene from a movie, a Hollywood blockbuster where white ajnabi (foreigners) visit a distant land in the East, shrouded in mystery which is heightened by a rich culture and unique attire.

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Humans of Nablus 38

“The children aren’t looking for someone to improve their lives through donations or monetary contributions but by feeling heard and understood by others.”

“In general, I don’t need money but I work here because I want to help others and help build my community in order to grow a brighter future for its inhabitants.”

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Our Deepest Condolences

We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Ken Freeling. A dear member of the TYO family, Ken served as a committed member of Tomorrow's Youth Organization's board of directors for years. As a member of our board, his mentorship and support helped TYO bring education as well as social and economic empowerment to hundreds of families and thousands of children in need.

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Traveling Through Palestine

As I finish my time at TYO, I am reminded of the fun times I had with my thoughtful students and the locals I encountered throughout my travels. During my time in Palestine, I had the opportunity to travel throughout the country and meet people from all Palestine. Not only was my time here impacted by the local staff and students, but also by people I met throughout my travels.

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