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Welcoming Our Summer 2016 EFL Fellows!

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Summer 2016 EFL Fellows Emma, Leandro, Darren, Amy, Katrina, and Kyra.

Summer 2016 EFL Fellows Emma, Leandro, Darren, Amy, Katrina, and Kyra.

Introducing the Summer 2016 EFL Fellow class of the STEP! II Program. 6 fellows from the United States and Colombia have been selected to teach intensive English as a Foreign Language classes at TYO. Read all about them!

Emma

Emma grew up on a ranch in northern California. Her undergraduate degree is in International Relations and French, with a certificate in peace and conflict resolution from Bennington College. After completing her undergraduate degree, she moved to NYC to work as a program manager for an international NGO and spent the next few years traveling around and working in Africa and Cuba. She recently completed a Master’s in International Education from NYU and is excited about the opportunity to learn about another area of the world.

Emma has taught in sixteen countries across five continents and hopes to visit her sixth continent within the next two years. Her professional interests include education research (particularly within displaced communities), community-based education projects, monitoring and evaluation, and how education systems are built in various communities.

Leandro

Leandro Salazar, a born and raised Colombian, is passionate about education in crisis, development, and human rights. He completed a Bachelor’s degree in Education Sciences – Teaching of Foreign Languages (English and French). In 2011, Leandro moved to the south of France as a Spanish language teacher for primary and secondary education students within the framework of an agreement between ministries of education. While in France, he completed two Master’s degrees with one being in Hispanic Studies and the most recent in International and Intercultural Negotiations at Aix-Marseille Universite. Since then, he has collaborated with Ministries of Education and with various United Nations agencies in the field of education curriculum design and development, and policy reform in conflict affected settings.

Currently working at the United Nations Refugee Agency’s Education Section in Geneva, Switzerland, he provides administrative and technical support in all stages of the operation management cycle to programs and partnerships primarily relating to primary and secondary education for refugees in various challenging geographical locations worldwide. In addition to work, Leandro enjoys playing football (soccer), dancing to Latin-American rhythms, running marathons, traveling, and volunteering.

Darren

Darren is from Lancaster, Pennsylvania and graduated from Gettysburg College in December 2015 with a Bachelor’s in English with minors in Educational studies and Middle East studies.

Darren worked with Gettysburg’s Center for Public Service as a Program Coordinator for a community farm that addressed and educated others about food insecurity. He also served as one of their Summer Fellows developing projects for multiple community programs at the intersection of poverty, immigration, and food justice. During that fellowship, he was the head teacher of English classes held for adult immigrants in the area.

Darren hopes to start a career in international development involving the Middle East and North Africa, a passion further supported by a semester spent in Rabat, Morocco in the fall of 2015. He studied his fifth semester of Arabic in Morocco and practiced journalism under veteran journalists from an NGO named Round Earth Media. He produced a feature article, soon to be published in US News and World Report, on the Tanger-Med port and its effect on Morocco’s long-term economic development.

Darren has a strong interest in literature and film and hopes to use these passions in his work as an avenue for students to read the world more critically.

Amy

Amy grew up in a small suburb of Boston, Massachusetts. She holds dual bachelor’s degrees in Applied Linguistics and Classical Vocal Performance from Tufts University and the New England Conservatory of Music, respectively. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages at Columbia University Teachers College.

Amy has worked with English Language Learners both domestically and abroad, with teaching engagements ranging from English language and literacy classes for adult immigrant and refugee students residing in a housing project in South Boston, to working with preschoolers at a bilingual school in Madrid, Spain. Currently, she works as an educator at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.

When she is not studying or in the classroom, Amy enjoys singing, traveling, hiking, and long-distance running. She is joining the program after participating in a summer vocal arts workshop for young opera singers in Groznjan, Croatia.

Katrina

Katrina grew up travelling the United States, the daughter of migrant workers who eventually settled in north-central Missouri. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in German from Truman State University and a Cambridge CELTA completed at the British Language Training Centre in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Katrina gained her first experience with the challenges of language learning and cultural integration while finishing secondary school in South Korea, and it has since been her goal to better understand and help guide others through similar processes.  She peer taught German 130 and 131 in college and modified this curriculum for use in a local elementary school’s high ability program. As a trainee she instructed adult immigrant populations and has also organized intensive English camps and literacy workshops for underserved county schools in Taiwan.

After working with TYO this summer, Katrina will be joining the German Fulbright-Kommission in Oberhausen, where she will teach English at the Bertha-von-Suttner-Gymnasium and work on local integration projects for incoming Syrian refugees. She hopes to make a career of learning and teaching Germanic languages and aiding in cultural adjustment. Outside of class, you can find her hiking or imagining herself a film critic, among other things.

Kyra

Kyra was born and raised in New York. Kyra attended George Washington University and received an undergraduate degree in International Affairs with a concentration in Global Public Health and a minor in Dance. She loves baking, traveling, learning new languages and dancing. She is interested in working in the emergency relief and public health fields with mobile populations.

This will be Kyra’s third time teaching as a participant of the International Internship and Fellowship program at TYO. In Summer 2013, Kyra joined TYO as an international intern and taught English classes at An-Najah University. During the Spring 2016 session, she was an EFL teaching fellow leading an elementary level English class. She is excited to return to TYO not only to continue teaching EFL to the youth of Nablus and build upon her previous teaching experiences outside of TYO, but to also explore new learning opportunities in the mental health and trauma care realm with local TYO staff.

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Humans of Nablus 19

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HofN 19_ Mahfoza

When I was volunteering last session, I cooperated with the volunteers and got close with the children, especially the children ages 8 and 9. I did many exercises with them to help them write letters, and they learned them. For example, at the end of a few classes, I gave all of them homework to write a small story. Little by little, day by day, they wrote better. They had really good ideas, but they couldn’t explain the ideas. But after the lessons, they were really impressive to me. I’m so happy and excited to see them again.
عندما تطوعت الفصل الماضي كان هناك تعاون بيني وبين المتطوعين واصبحت اقرب من الاطفال وخاصه بعمر 8-9 قمت بتنفيذ العديد من النشاطات معهم لمساعتهم على كتابة الاحرف وبالفعل تعلموهم ..ففي نهاية عدة حصص قمت باعطئهم واجب وهو عبارة عن كتابة قصة قصيرة ويوما بعد يوم اصبحت كتاباتهم افضل . بالسابق كانت لديهم افكار جميله ولكن لم يستطيعو كتابتها ولكن مع الوقت كانوا مثيرين للاهتمام وانا سعيده جدا بلقائهم مرة اخرى
Mahfoza is a local intern in the STEP! II TYO Youth Internship program, a youth employability, empowerment, and community leadership initiative supported by Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation.

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Show Some Grit

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It’s lunchtime on Thursday in the Zafer Masri Foundation Building,  and TYO’s new EFL Fellows are beginning to wrap up their one week of lesson planning that will guide them through the next two months in the STEP! II English classroom with new students. Next week at about the same time, determined learners from across the unpredictable city of Nablus will be leaving early to ensure they can be in their afternoon classes that day. In both cases, time and physical constraints are not the only challenges that the people coming into the classroom must work to overcome.

Two of TYO's new EFL fellows share suggestions on making their lesson plans more responsive to student needs.

Two of TYO’s new EFL fellows share suggestions on making their lesson plans more responsive to student needs.

Starting from scratch is a time-consuming but creative way of building from TYO’s EFL curriculum, which is loosely based on the psycho-social format of the organization’s Core Child Program. In combining this with a communicative approach, teachers have work to develop lesson plans that count: interpersonal interaction, community building, critical thinking and the process of working toward goals are all emphasized in the language learning process. For younger students, the implementation of these concepts may take a more visible route. For example, a new partnership between the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Sesame Workshop (the non-profit brand of Sesame Street) uses media and show characters to promote a love of and comfort with education in various refugee populations, including in Jordan. For adult students, the focus is more practical, but also more tenuous: students practice constructive discussion and disagreement, analyze pop culture, brainstorm ways to address community problems and develop their English skills in the workplace context. All of these are areas of importance here in Palestine, where the topics may not be broached in traditional school English classes.

An EFL class plays a game with their teacher on the first day of class.

An EFL class plays a game with their teacher on the first day of class.

In many countries, this sort of learning has an apparent end-goal of building up both the student individually and the community. The STEP! II students already demonstrate incredible commitment by pushing themselves to continue learning in a place without many English resources and the classes at TYO go beyond traditional teaching methods to push students even farther. During EFL classes in the STEP! II program, students will not be sitting in rows listening to a teacher talk, but rather acting as catalysts in their own education. For some, having an active role in education and community building could be a new experience. Students coming from local refugee camps may have a sense of identity that is split from the larger body of Nablus, just as many refugees abroad feel disconnected from their locales. It is therefore particularly important to build a sense of mutual respect and safety in the classroom by allowing students to have more control over their learning, voice their opinions and, in some cases, set their own rules. By fostering these personal skills and encouraging civic engagement from inside the classroom, the teachers here seek to teach language in a culturally responsive manner.

From both sides of the language classrooms in Nablus, there are obstacles to overcome; however, when willing to be innovative and show some grit, students and teachers can meet in the middle to create a unique and constructive educational community at TYO.

 

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.

 

Katrina, Summer 2016 EFL Fellow

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Humans of Nablus 18

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HofNab Asma'a

If I have free time, I teach my younger brother. He is in fourth grade and will be in fifth grade. And I will bring him to TYO with me just to spend some time. And I give special lessons for my neighbors, the children neighbors, in English. Especially at the final exams, I spend my whole day teaching. Sometimes I just start at ten o’clock or eleven and I will continue until 9 or 10 o’clock.

عندما يكون لدى وقت فراغ اقوم بتدريس اخي الاصغر, انه بالصف الرابع وسيترفع للصف الخامس, قمت بتسجيله واحضاره معي الى منظمة شباب الغد لقضاء بعض الوقت . مع العلم انني اقوم ايضا باعطاء بعض الدروس لاطفال الجيران كذلك بموضوع اللغه الانجليزية بالذات فترة الامتحانات , اقضي كل يومي بالتدريس في تلك الفترة , احيانا ابدأ يومي في التدريس من الساعه العاشرة حتى التاسعه او العاشرة ليلا

Asma’a is a local intern in the STEP! II TYO Youth Internship program, a youth employability, empowerment, and community leadership initiative supported by Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation.

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Beyond Expectations: The Success Story of Waed Abuzant

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IMG_1001

Waed Abuzant was born and raised in Nablus. She studied Elementary Education at An Najah University. After graduating in 2013, she did an internship with a communication company. Waed began her experience with TYO as a volunteer in the Core AM program for 2 years before becoming a local intern and a student in the STEP! II EFL program.

What was your experience learning English in school and in university?

In school, I started studying English in grade 5 and continued to study until I took the final exam called tawjihi in high school.  I had a private English tutor to get ready for the final exam during 11th and 12th grades, but my ability to use English to communicate was not very good. During university, I took 3 English courses and my language skills got a bit better.  The first course was easy and I was able to strengthen my skills and do better in the other 2 classes. English classes at the university were taught through lectures with the teacher reading and translating the material for the students. During EFL class at TYO the teacher used interactive teaching methods and my vocabulary, writing, reading, conversation, and translating skills improved.

What motivated you to sign up for TYO’s EFL classes?

In addition to leading the academic program with other local interns, I participated in the intensive STEP! II EFL program. I wanted to develop better skills in English because English is important for finding a job. I also knew that the teachers were native speakers, so they would speak the language naturally and no Arabic would be used in class. This is a good thing because students were used to speaking Arabic, even during English classes. Since the teacher made us only speak English, even during a break from class, there was more practice.

What was the greatest impact of EFL classes for you?

I now accept English more than I did before signing up for the class. Before I enrolled, whenever I saw English words, I couldn’t understand. Now I can read and understand the meaning. I never expected that I would be able to speak in English and now I am proud of myself that I am able to speak English. I want to continue to study English because I am good, but not excellent. I want to be excellent and achieve more of my goals. When I hear native speakers talking, it is hard to understand because they speak too fast. I will continue my studies so I can understand native speakers better.

Where are you now in your career trajectory and how is the STEP! II EFL program helping you get there?

Now I am looking for a job where I can teach grades 1-4. I want to find a job in Nablus and the EFL program is helping improve my skills for work. If I want to apply for a job, they ask if I know English. Even as a teacher, even if I don’t want to teach English, I must know English. English is needed because many private schools have native speaking teachers, so the teachers must speak English to communicate with each other easier. The EFL program is improving my language skills, which will help me get a job.

What advice would you give to youth English language learners like you?

People who want to learn English should take the EFL course at TYO. There is nothing to be scared of in the classroom. Everyone is coming to class to learn. If there are students with many English skill levels in the same class, the teachers may focus on the higher level students instead of the lower level students.  Classes at TYO are taught according to level and the students in the class have similar language skills, so weak points will addressed and overcome as a group. Teachers focus on what students in the class need and can help everyone improve because of the similar skill levels in the class.

 

Waed is a student in the English as a Foreign Language (EFL) program, which is part of STEP! II, a youth employability, empowerment, and community leadership initiative supported by Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation.

Interview conducted by Lindsey, the International Internship and Fellowship Coordinator, and translated by Rawan, Women’s Empowerment Program Assistant.

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Interview with Sumood Jamlan

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Tell us about your business. What do you do, where do you sell your products, and who are your customers?

My name is Sumood Jamlan. I am from Aseera village outside of Nablus and I have a business called Shal. I make embroidered bags, shawls, and accessories to sell online and in exhibitions, primarily to young women. I started making embroidered products in 2010, but at that time it was merely a hobby. It wasn’t until I joined Tomorrow’s Youth Organization’s (TYO) Fostering Women Entrepreneurs in the Middle East (FWEME) project in 2012 that I learned there were steps I could take to turn my hobby into a profitable business. FWEME put me on my path to run the successful business that I have today.

How did you hear about APWE? How have you as a business woman benefited from APWE? How has it improved the way you operate your business? 

Three years later in 2015, TYO’s Outreach Coordinator called me and invited me to attend the Advancing Palestinian Women Entrepreneurs program in partnership with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. I jumped at the opportunity as I wanted to improve my business management and marketing skills.

I have benefitted from APWE in countless ways! I used to have a very difficult time with budgeting and keeping all of my financial records in order. TYO’s training partner, the Small Enterprise Center provided me with the skills and tools I needed to keep more precise and accurate records of all of my labor costs, expenditure and profits. Before I started APWE I had been very depressed: the political tension in the country was severe, I seldom left my home, and my business had essentially come to a screeching halt. Joining APWE gave me new energy. Most of all, it helped me learn how to refine my budgeting and bookkeeping skills and how to find my customer base. I’m also really looking forward to advancing my marketing skills at the upcoming Branding and Marketing training.

Sumood poses in front of her booth at a Nablus exhibition.

Sumood poses in front of her booth at a Nablus exhibition.

As an entrepreneur who has had a business for six years, how has APWE benefitted you? What have you learned that you have applied to how you operate your business? 

I have taken my products to five exhibitions since joining APWE—one with the Ministry of Tourism in Ramallah, one with the Nablus municipality, and three with the Ministry of Tourism in Jericho, Birzeit University, and Sebastia. Earlier this year, I went to the Paltel Group Foundation headquarters in Ramallah to show them my products and asked them to contact me if they needed any large orders. A few months later, Paltel asked me to make 158 shawls for all of their employees for Mother’s Day. This experience taught me how to handle stress, manage employees (as I had to hire people to complete the order), and meet tight deadlines. Not only did I meet the deadline and provide Paltel with all 158 shawls, but I also established a business relationship with Paltel and will continue to work with them in the future.

I highly recommend this project to budding entrepreneurs. If they are looking to work hard, improve their skills, and reap the benefits of their hard work then APWE will be a perfect fit.

Interviewed by Vanessa Faraj and Rawan Musameh

 

 

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Homeward Bound; Yalla Bye!

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My students once asked me, “Why do American children always leave their families at 18? Do they not care about their families?”  While speaking in a second language does lend itself to bluntness, I could see why my class wondered this about my culture.  After all, they were speaking to a North American who had uprooted her life to move to Palestine.  Being a beginner class, I struggled through an answer that did justice to the complexity of the question while using simple and, hopefully, understandable vocabulary. In Palestine, family bonds are ultimate.  For me personally, while family bonds are still very important, I also view my close friends as family, and these networks support me in similar ways as my family would when I am far away from them. Fortunately, my class seemed to accept this part of my answer. Thinking back on my three months with my class, it is easy to see that my positive experience in Palestine is inextricably linked with the building of a new family here.  Both with my colleagues at TYO and within my individual class, we are a family.

Bethlehem group

While the close bonds we all developed here at TYO certainly play into this, they are by no means the driving force behind my intense pride in my students for all that they accomplished over the course of three months.  Within the beginner class, levels still varied greatly and many of my students could even have benefited from extra, remedial English classes before joining the beginner group. I saw all of my students, even the ones who struggled the most, grow and develop so much over the course.  They applied themselves fully to the class and worked so hard, and the difference is obvious.  One of my students who struggled the most now takes some time, thinks deeply about what he wants to say and how he wants to say it, and writes near-perfect sentences. With a little more practice and a continued effort to increase confidence in speaking, I know this student will one day have better English than some native speakers!

At the end of the course, students undertook a placement exam to compare their relative levels before and after the program.  It was designed to see how TYO could improve its teaching and the areas we still need to focus on, as well as gauge student progress.  While not every student will benefit from a more advanced class next session, every student I talked to after the exam expressed how proud they were of themselves.  The test was designed to be difficult for all levels, yet they felt confident in their own improvement.  The speaking portion in particular can always be intimidating, yet everyone spoke of how much easier they found it than last time and how they felt more capable and more confident. One student amusingly came up to me with a huge smile on her face and said, “Grammar? No problem!”  Her lack of grammar in that instance aside, we were all so proud to be involved with the EFL program that day.

park

I sincerely hope that my students continue on with the same amount of passion and commitment in their future English classes with TYO. I have no doubt that they will.  The STEP! II EFL program was specifically asked for by the community, as something concrete that will help make the lives of the Nabulsi people better.  I am honoured to be a small part of this locally-driven community building exercise, and have gotten the opportunity to build a new family in Nablus.

 

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.

 

Ally, EFL Teaching Fellow, Spring 2016

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Interview with Sonia Abu Ayyesh

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Can you tell me about any changes you have seen in your daughter Malak since she joined TYO’s Core program? How were they before, during, and after?

Malak has had the pleasure of participating in two Core Early Childhood Program sessions. Before joining TYO, she was very shy, would run away from strangers, and refused to talk to anyone who was not in our immediate family. She was afraid of most people and if someone came to our door, she would run and hide. She was also very sensitive—simple questions would make her run away and cry. Now she loves to sing and dance in front of anyone and is just a ball of energy and enthusiasm! We didn’t see much of a difference after her first session with TYO, but following her second session, we began to see incredible changes in her behavior and personality. She began to make friends in class, talk about those friends at home, and still asks me if she can invite them to our house to play. She also speaks in a loud voice, she explains and defends herself more, and has more overall confidence. As her mother, it is important that my daughter have the confidence to make friends in school and engage with people in our community with confidence and without fear. The ways in which Malak has developed at TYO will carry her throughout the rest of her childhood, adolescence, and adulthood and I could not be more grateful. Malak has begun to find her voice.

Sonia and her daughter Malak pose for a photo at TYO's flagship office in Nablus

Sonia and her daughter Malak pose for a photo at TYO’s flagship office in Nablus.

What do you think Malak enjoys most about TYO? What does she talk about at home when she talks about TYO?”

I am incredibly proud of the progress my daughter has made. Malak loves sports and art classes. She was never able to color inside the lines or properly hold a crayon until coming to TYO. When TYO was in session, she would come home and tell her siblings what she had learned that day. She likes to announce when she is going to wash her hands before mealtime, she proudly puts her toys away, and she makes sure the entire family knows she learned these habits from her teacher Fawz. She constantly asks me when she is going to come back for a third session and says that she misses the TYO community, her friends, and the delicious meal she is always fed.

Are there other centers like TYO? What do you find unique about us?    

I love the energy here. I love the beautiful building and the sunshine that streams through the windows. My family has a long-standing and positive relationship with TYO—my older children attended TYO and now Malak and I are both actively involved. I have not sent my children to any other organization as my family is seeing countless positive outcomes. When my older son Moath started with the organization, he had similar problems as Malak— he was very shy and unable to defend himself. Moath used to only walk on the sidewalks and wouldn’t confidently walk in the street like the rest of the boys his age. The longer he stayed at TYO, the more confident he became. As I saw positive outcomes in my children, I decided not only to keep them at the organization but to also join myself. We live in Balata refugee camp, which is not a safe place for our children. TYO offers them a safe space to play, to breathe and to be who they are: children.

Have you noticed a change in your child’s academic performance? Have you noticed a change in their attitude towards school or behavior in their school environment? 

Malak has not yet started school but I undoubtedly saw an improvement in my son Moath’s academic performance. Moath is more confident, earns better grades, and looks forward to school. Before starting at TYO, he hardly had any friends. Soon after, he developed relationships with his school classmates at TYO. TYO allowed him to develop relationships with his classmates he had known for years but never befriended. TYO teaches the importance of friendship, relationship-building, and respect; my children have greatly benefitted from these lessons. I always speak positively about TYO and encourage all of my friends, neighbors, and family members to register themselves and their children. I tell them about the TYO approach of “learning through play” and the positive impact it has had on my family. I also encourage young mothers to join the Women’s Group and tell them all about the amazing seminars and educational classes I participate in and how beneficial they are for me.

What have you learned in the Women’s Group that has positively impacted the way you engage with you children? How has it positively impacted your relationship with your children?

I really enjoyed the educational seminars with Suhad Jabi-Masri. By attending her sessions, I learned that I got very angry, very quickly and that my anger outbursts were negatively impacting my family. Suhad taught me and the other participants that the first step to addressing negative family dynamics was to take responsibility for our role in perpetuating them. One time, my youngest daughter was imitating me and she acted like she was angry and resentful. Seeing myself reflected in my daughter’s imitation was such an important wake up call. Suhad’s sessions provided me with the tools to help me begin to change my behavior.

I also learned that I must take time for myself. Now, I take my children to my parents’ house and either go out alone or relax at home alone. I am now more social, have strengthened my relationships with my friends, and am a more patient and loving mother.

The Core Child Program is supported by STEP! II, a youth employability, empowerment, and community leadership initiative supported by Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation.

Interviewed by Futoon Qadri

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So Long and Thanks for All the Hummus!

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Right Education

Street art in the city of Bethlehem.

When I decided to come to TYO, it wasn’t an easy decision. Not because the organization didn’t interest me—far from it. But rather because the position of teacher in a classroom, especially a classroom of my peers, is not something I’ve ever aspired to. In fact, the idea of it has always been intimidating, if not terrifying. I’m not someone who enjoys standing in front of a crowd, no matter how small. I’ve taught children, and worked in the education sector, but these are a far cry from teaching college students and graduates. So it was not an easy decision for me to sign up to be an EFL teacher.  I was interested in TYO, working in Palestine, and continuing to practice my Arabic, so I signed up anyway.

From the very first day, it was easier than I had expected. Not that I would call the experience of teaching a class of students easy, but the parts I was so concerned about—speaking in front of a class, having to improvise and lesson-plan on the fly, corral unruly students—these were not the problems I had built them up to be. With a relatively small class and so many hours of time together, knowledge of the group dynamics led to streamlined lessons and more effective practices. Small numbers also made management easier, and for more flexibility in activities and structure. It helped that my class was extremely well-behaved and eager—they wanted to learn, and were happy to practice.  What else could a teacher want?

A beautiful view in the city of Bethlehem.

A beautiful view in the city of Bethlehem.

Despite these simplifications, teaching a group of curious, educated, intelligent, ambitious young people was never going to be an easy task. It’s not enough to know the basics when you are teaching university graduates—you have to be ready for anything, from questions about the past perfect and the passive voice, to explaining the process of emigrating to the US, to answering the question “What do you think of Palestinians? What did you think before?”

None of these questions have an easy answer, and to give one would be to undervalue my students’ interest and intelligence. It would do them a disservice to whitewash difficult conversations and topics—they are adults, and are in the process of finding their places in the world. They are aware of the way their people are perceived internationally. At the same time, they deserve the chance to dream of being something more, and going somewhere new, that any 20 something dreams. They want the same security and the same freedoms. It would be unfair to pretend that they do not face obstacles that I never did, but it would be equally unfair to allow this to limit them in their ambitions.

I don’t know if I have impacted their trajectories, opened their eyes, or their minds. If I’ve succeeded at anything, I hope I’ve helped them come closer to self-expression in an unfamiliar language. If they have more confidence, in speaking, reading, writing, and understanding, then I have been useful. It would be wrong to say I enabled or empowered them—that honor belongs to them. They have worked to get where they are, and I hope to see how they continue to grow, as they have helped me to grow.

EFL Fellow Phoebe and some of her students get to know each other on the first day of class.

EFL Fellow Phoebe and some of her students get to know each other on the first day of class.

When I came to TYO I was nervous, concerned, scared of what I had signed up for. As I leave, I leave with memories and letters and confidences from my class. I hope they will feel the same.

 

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.

 

Phoebe, EFL Teaching Fellow, Spring 2016

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Making Our List, Checking It Twice

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TYO’s work is incredibly rewarding. When we are in session, approximately 500 people walk through our doors every day ready to make a positive impact on themselves or the people we work alongside. One of the most rewarding elements of our work is when we see real improvement and benefit to our beneficiaries every day lives. When one of our APWE micro-enterprise entrepreneurs increases their profit, or a STEP! II student exhibits a firmer grasp on the English language, or simply when a Core Child Program participant takes a homemade card home to his or her mother we know we are doing something right. Without seeing any direct results of all the hours and effort put into an organizational or programmatic goal, it is easy to feel overwhelmed especially given the unique challenges facing here in Palestine. What’s more, growth and improvement takes more than encouragement and inspiration, it also takes determination, doggedness, and rigor.

Kifayah and Iman pause for a photo during a Monitoring and Evaluation focus group.

TYO is currently in the midst of our Advancing Palestinian Women Entrepreneurs program. The objective of APWE is to empower women entrepreneurs and provide them with the tools and skills needed to grow profitable and sustainable businesses that are scalable and facilitate job creation. One of the ways that we ensure we are moving in this direction is by implementing a series of Monitoring and Evaluation tools (ie: surveys, focus groups, and training pre and post assessments) to ensure we are maximizing our impact and delivering the most effective project possible. While TYO programs have always included an evaluation element, APWE’s M&E component has allowed us to track the women’s progression and change project implementation based on the results of various M&E results. Thanks to this element to APWE, we are learning how to refine our project and have an even more positive impact on our beneficiaries’ lives!

– Vanessa, Women’s Empowerment Program Coordinator

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