Tamara Halabi was born and raised in Rujeeb village located outside Nablus. She received her Bachelor’s in French and Master’s in Teaching Methods. Prior to joining TYO, Tamara commuted from her small village outside Nablus to Ramallah working in customer service for Jawwal, a cellular communications company. In fall 2015, Tamara joined the TYO family as a volunteer, served as a local volunteer, and recently accepted a position as Core Program teacher.
What has your professional experience been like outside of TYO?
Right after graduation, I worked with Jawwal Telecommunication Company in customer service for 3 years. It was my job to answer customer’s questions over the phone. The job was not related to my French degree, but the company liked my personality during the interviews. It was important to have a friendly personality to do well in customer service. In preparation for a promotion, I received high marks on evaluations and a very positive recommendation from my supervisor. When the position was given to someone else, I was disappointed that my skills and good work were not enough for job progression. I resigned and decided to continue my Master’s degree in Curriculum and Teaching Methods at An-Najah University. During the last semester of my Master’s program, I began to volunteer at TYO.
What do you look for in a work environment?
It is important for the work environment to feel a family environment while also being a professional environment. When the supervisors are dealing with staff, there must be respect and humanity. They must not work with employees in a manner where they are treated like a slaves who works for someone and takes order, but in a manner that is like family where everyone knows their tasks and there is respect for everyone’s minds and opinions. I’m working with you, not for you or under you. This is the most important thing because is this is done well, we can develop other positive work characteristics- staff can be more professional, more committed, more creative, and accomplish more tasks. You can love your work more.
What skills have you gained from your time with TYO so far?
The first skill I have gained is how to interact with people from many different cultures. I have been able to meet many new people including people from different communities, both local and internationals, who have different cultures, languages, and personalities. I am from a village and meeting new people has helped my world to become wider. Personally, I have developed the skills to know how to interact with diverse groups of people based on their personalities and cultures.
I studied teaching methods, but volunteering and teaching at TYO allowed me to implement what I learned at university. The information learned at the university was theoretical, but now I have the opportunity to implement what I learned into classroom. In addition to practicing teaching theories, there is now the addition of emotions added into the classroom. Combining emotions with the teaching methods makes the experience of teaching more valuable and you can learn more about how the theory works in the real world. When I experience emotions while implementing methods with students in the classroom, it gives me a chance to know and love children. I didn’t have relationships with children before my time at TO, so I thought I didn’t really like children. Now I love children. This was something about myself I didn’t realize. I personally have grown in my emotions because I am working with children and spending time with them on their level.
We learned at the university how to deal with children inside the classroom. There was one method maintaining the classrooms of all children, but this is not true. Inside classrooms at TYO, each student has a different background and personality. When there is a behavior that requires response, each child must be thought of as an individual who needs an appropriate response. There is not one response that works for all children.
How has TYO impacted your professional life?
When I was a volunteer, I felt responsible for implementing only the tasks given to me by the class teacher and then I went home. When I became a local intern, there was more responsibility. I was responsible for my class, the class volunteers, and students. I felt responsible and committed for the 3 month internship period because this was a short, defined period of time. But when I became a Core teacher, I felt like I was now a TYO family member. I am not only responsible for my Core class, but all things related to TYO. TYO is now my family and I am staying long term, so the circle of responsibility has grown to cover things related to the whole organization.
Tamara is a teacher in TYO’s Core Early Childhood program, supported in part by Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation.
-Interview conducted by Lindsey, International Internship and Fellowship Coordinator, and translated by Futoon, Outreach Coordinator.