Posts in Internship Program
The Universal Language of Children

Since I was little, I have been fascinated by languages and the thousands of combinations of sounds and symbols that human beings have developed to communicate. Whenever I have been travelling, I’ve always loved to hear people speaking their own language and to try to imitate the sounds of their words. When I found out I had been accepted for an internship in Palestine, I was really excited about the idea of living in an Arabic-speaking country.

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TYO’s New Program: Learning What’s Behind the Smiles

Interning at TYO has made me realize what a huge impact organizations like TYO have on the community. Being involved in the Family Psycho-Educational Intervention and Economic Support Program, Women's Empowerment and Parenting Program, and the Core Child Program has taught me what an invaluable facilitator for community development TYO is. I’ve seen children and women come out of their shell and grow confident in themselves and their abilities after only a couple of months in the children’s and women’s programs. And I’ve witnessed families overcome serious adversity through my work in the Family Psycho-Educational Program.

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Best of Nablus: Olive Picking in Asira

The olive tree is very important for Palestinians, both as a symbol and as part of the economy: olive trees make up two-thirds of all trees in Palestine. Olive harvest season typically begins in September, and TYO’s international staff was invited by Nahawat, a central TYO figure for five years, to join her and her family for a day of olive picking. I’ve always found Nahawat’s presence at TYO to be both uplifting and motivating – her love for TYO is evident in her welcoming smile and the hot cup of coffee or tea that she brings you when you need it most.

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Brewing Friendships

I don’t even know where to start. I have learnt and felt so much since being in Nablus, that summing it all up in a few simple words feels like an impossible task. So, I’m going to do it in the most British way I know how – through tea.

At home, tea is a focal point in many situations. When you visit a relative, there is an offer of tea. When you’re stressed at work, there is an offer of tea. Whether you’ve had a bad day, or are sharing good news, there is always the supportive response of, “Would you like some tea?” I didn’t realise just how embedded in me this ‘tea culture’ was until I arrived in Nablus.

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All the Good in Goodbye

As the internship draws to a close, it is time to reflect back on all of my experiences in Palestine. How can I possibly capture all of my thoughts, impressions and experiences inside a single blog post? The people of Palestine, my co-workers, students, and friends are all so incredibly warm and kind. The landscape of Palestine can only be described as breathtaking. My favorite past time had to be road trips between cities because it gave me a chance to look at the rolling valleys, the sprawling olive tree groves, and the mountains that cast their long shadows as the sun set.

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Random Acts of Kindness

There are many experiences that I could highlight as my time at TYO ends. I could talk about the joy of watching children discover their potential. I could talk about the teachers and the unfailing support they have given me. I could talk about local culture and opportunities I have had to witness how Nabulsis live, interact, and view the world. The common threads uniting all of these experiences, however, are the random acts of kindness that I have experienced since I arrived.

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Winning More Than Just First Place

This session at TYO marked my first-time teaching 5th and 6th graders English, and with it the introduction to a huge group of students who seemed to have boundless enthusiasm and limitless amounts of energy. In the spirit of TYO, I looked for ways to redirect and focus this energy, rather than trying to suppress it and control it, and ended up introducing my favorite personal teaching style into the classroom: Competition.

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The Art of Making Mistakes

"There is no such thing as a mistake in art.” Even now, years later, I can still remember my elementary school art teacher encouraging me to embrace mistakes. She showed me how a misplaced line or extra paint splotch could become a new design. There is always a way to transform an accident into an opportunity. As a child pre-occupied with perfection, art gave me space to develop at my own pace. I enjoyed learning without worrying about making mistakes.

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What Lies Beyond My Comfort Zone

In three short weeks, the teachers, staff, and students at TYO have helped me to discover a new confidence that I did not know I had. That confidence has come to me through playing music. Whether singing for staff, learning to play the ukulele for children, drinking tea and playing music with the guard, or simply strumming a guitar on the balcony overlooking the valley, music has unlocked both the culture of Nablus and my own sense of identity and purpose.

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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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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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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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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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