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Lessons Learned From a Sweet Return

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Markers Picture-Teacher-Kyra

As a returnee to TYO, I had already witnessed the incredible work of the organization. In fact, I was worried that having taught at TYO before, my experience as a fellow would be repetitive. I was wrong! My experience in the EFL program changed me tremendously. Specifically, I learned what it meant to be a foreign language teacher, the importance of education, and the pride teachers can garner from watching their students grow.

In my time as an intern in 2013, I taught numerous courses including one, hour-long English class at An-Najah University. Although teaching a variety of courses made the experience exciting, I spent far less time preparing for each class. Additionally, I managed my classroom for less than 2 hours at a time. As an EFL fellow, I taught one class, four days a week, for 3 1/2 hours. I supervised the students entirely on my own and prepared an in-depth curriculum to increase their English knowledge. This not only allowed me to bond more with my students but it reinforced my technical skills, especially lesson planning and teaching. Particularly it exposed me to the special curriculum required for a foreign language class. Teaching a foreign language is challenging! Despite sounding “corny”, the fellowship gave me a whole new appreciation for the work of my language professors growing up. Furthermore, the intensity of the instruction and preparation required for the course instilled in me a confidence in my ability to teach I did not have before. I now truly feel like a teacher and this feeling is awesome and fills me with pride.

Speaking of pride…I now understand one of the most wonderful benefits of being a teacher. This benefit is watching your students grow both as individuals and as a collective. In spending so many hours together, the classroom became a home. On any given day, my students would use break to dance with one another, or chat about their lives. As a teacher this was incredible to see, and reinforced me that a class can become a second “family” if the teacher is committed to this goal. Observing my students grow individually was equally as rewarding. Students who were initially unable to speak in front of the class were performing speeches by the conclusion of the session. Moments such as these made my heart swell and I would not trade them in for anything. In addition, the fellowship solidified my belief that a person is never too old to learn. Having the honor of teaching 19-45 years old reinforced this to me when my students came to TYO every day so excited to learn and absorb new information.

An extra perk of being able to return to TYO was that it allowed me to meet and create connections with my peers who were a constant source of inspiration and support. My co-fellows were incredible and being able to bounce ideas off them was invaluable. Without fail, if I was having a bad day, there was a fellow there to help me. Lastly, coming to TYO for a second time truly solidified the pride I have to be part of a not-for-profit doing such important work. The dedication of the staff and joy I feel throughout the center is unparalleled with other organizations I have been a part of. I will miss TYO and the people who work here, however I know that no matter how far I go, I will carry the memories I have at TYO with me forever.

 

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.

 

Kyra, EFL Teaching Fellow, Spring 2016

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Humans of Nablus 17

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Cropped roof

I work at TYO as a guard. I love everything about TYO and the center. I see how not only the kids are treated but how everyone is treated here as a whole. And that is how I strive to treat people. I’ve learned that respect for other people is the most important thing and that is what I love most about being here.

أعمل في منظمة شباب الغد كحارس , أحب كل ما يتعلق بالمنظمة فانا لا ارى فقط كيفية معاملة الاطفال وانما كيفية معاملة الجميع بشكل عام , معاملة تستند على الاحترام وعلى هذا استند عند معاملتي للناس. فقد تعلمت بان الاحترام هو الاهم وهذا هو اكثر ما احبه في هذا المكان

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Breaking Bread and Building Relationships

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Last week, Tomorrow’s Youth Organization had the pleasure of hosting representatives from our Advancing Palestinian Women Entrepreneurs (APWE) project partner, the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women . Tomorrow’s Youth Organization and the Foundation have partnered since 2009 to empower women entrepreneurs in Northern Palestine and provide them with the tools and skills needed to grow profitable and sustainable micro-businesses that are scalable and facilitate job creation. During the three-day visit, the Foundation staff met eight APWE entrepreneurs residing in Nablus, Toubas, Jenin and their surrounding villages. The entrepreneurs spoke about their triumphs and challenges, the ways in which their families and communities have either encouraged or inhibited the growth of their businesses, and the financial services they need to access so they can increase the capacity of their enterprises.

Manar explains her vegetable growing and germination process to Sofia.

Manar explains her vegetable growing and germination process to Sofia.

Representatives from the Foundation had an opportunity to gain a better sense of the conditions under which the entrepreneurs operate their businesses, understand the tremendous effort it takes for some of the women to attend the trainings in Nablus given the long distances they must travel, and meet the women themselves in their homes while enjoying traditional Palestinian cuisine. After an incredible three days, TYO was sad to say good-bye to the Foundation’s representatives and looks forward to hosting them again the future!

Tomorrow's Youth Organization and Cherie Blair Foundation for Women pause for a group photo!

Tomorrow’s Youth Organization and Cherie Blair Foundation for Women pause for a group photo!

Vanessa, Women’s Empowerment Program Coordinator

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Riding Off into the Sunset

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Dana and kids

The past twelve weeks my surrounding fellows and I have embarked on a journey that we will forever hold in our hearts. Before I started my work at TYO I was worried about many things and questioned myself. The biggest question I asked myself was, ‘Would I actually be able to make an impact on the surrounding community’? Throughout my time here I have answered that question.

Within my life I have come to Palestine just about every year for vacation, but have never stayed longer than three weeks. I currently have dual citizenship in Palestine and the United States, which is an advantage. I didn’t really understand means to be Palestinian and to live life as a Palestinian citizen before living in Nablus. This experience has opened my eyes; showing me that my people are resilient, brilliant and stop at nothing to achieve their goals. Being here for a span of three months has given me a truer outlook on my culture and heritage. It has also built up my self-esteem, pride in self, and my community.

Dana and fellows

My first month here was quiet compared to the last two months at TYO. As the children, college students, and women I taught created a bond, there was more to talk about and that lead to more friendships. I will carry these memories and friends I have created long pasted my departure from Palestine.

Now that everything is coming to a close here in Nablus, I have reflected on how many people I have impacted. So the question I asked myself in the beginning was answered. I have left an imprint on the surrounding community and they have also impacted me. My experience here at TYO is one that I have learned from and will take with me for the rest of my life.

 

Dana, Zahi Khouri Fellow, Spring 2016

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Humans of Nablus 16

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I have wanted to be a volunteer for a long time. I came to TYO to be part of a big organization and to help people. I didn’t know about the children’s program, but once I heard it was available I got excited because I love being around children and seeing them smile. The thing I think about daily is how I am going to help the children enjoy their time at TYO and how I can help better their lives.

أردت ان اكون متطوع منذ وقت طويل . أتيت الى منظمة شباب الغد لاكون جزءا من مؤسسة كبيرة واساعد الناس. لم اكن اعلم عن برنامج الاطفال شيئا ولكن بمجرد معرفتي بوجوده شعرت بالسعادة لانني احب التواجد وحولي الاطفال واراهم يبتسمون. الشيء الذي افكر به يوميا هو كيف استطيع مساعدة هؤلاء الاطفال للاستمتاع بوقتهم في المنظمة وكيف استطيع ان اجعل حياتهم أفضل

 

The Core Early Childhood program is part of STEP! II, a youth employability, empowerment, and community leadership initiative supported by Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation.

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Ola Dwikate: Language Learning Can Be Fun!

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Ola Dwikat is from Al Masaken neighborhood in Nablus. She graduated from An Najah University in 2014 with a degree in elementary education. She has been a volunteer at TYO with the Core PM program for 1 year. In addition to volunteering with Core, she participates in the Step! II EFL program.

 What has been your experience learning English before, in school and in university?

English education was very boring in public school and at university. Classes gave information by writing the word on the board and explaining the definition. The traditional way of teaching was not enjoyable. Classes are the complete opposite at TYO. During English classes at TYO, the vocabulary is given through games. It is easier to learn and remember the information because it is learned while having fun. Even without review, the information stays in my mind better now. The classes at TYO motivate me to watch movies and short clips in English which I did not enjoy before. The methods  and games used and the teacher always smiling and laughing with the class makes me like English more and makes me want to learn more English.

What skills are you acquiring in TYO’s EFL classes that were missing from your school/university education?

I learned new vocabulary at TYO that I did not learn before such as emotions and synonyms for feelings. At school, vocabulary was limited. We learned happy and sad, but the word happy has multiple words to describe the emotion. At TYO, we learned more words to express how we feel, such as disappointed. This will help me understand the language even more because I am not limit to only a few words.

What are your personal and professional goals, and how will learning English help you achieve those?

My personal goals are to take advantage of opportunities to make friends that are English speakers and be able to communicate and stay in touch. For my future children, I want to be able to teach and help them with English. If they have a question, I will be able to answer it for them.

My professional goals are to work as a teacher in an elementary school. I will be able to use similar teaching methods that worked for her language learning such as games, charades, and relay races. I want to use these methods so the children don’t struggle to learn in a boring way like I had to do. They will learn in a fun way and love learning more. Now, when the students hear the subject English, the students close their books and don’t want to learn. But using fun methods of teaching will help the children want to learn.

What would you say to other youth your age who are interested in improving their English but nervous to get started?

Students are nervous because of the way they were learning English before, so I would tell them about my experience at TYO and that English class was fun. It is not the same experience students have when learning English in schools. The methods to teach English at TYO will make them excited and enjoy learning English! Sharing my experience with learning English at TYO will help decrease their nervousness. They don’t have to be nervous!

 

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.

Interview conducted by Lindsey, International Internship & Fellowship Coordinator, and translated by local intern, Rawan.

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Imagining a Better World; Using Creative Writing in English Class

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EFL students focus on their writing during a Step! II English class.

EFL students focus on their writing during a Step! II English class.

It is a common refrain for teachers to hear that their students dislike writing and writing exercises. Whether in their native language or a second language, it seems practicing writing does not capture the interest or imagination of students very well. Certainly in the STEP! II program here at TYO, the resistance many students had to writing at the beginning of the program was clear. Students, when asked to write anything they wanted about a given picture, often chose to write nothing. Whether out of fear or lack of vocabulary, this clearly needed to be addressed in our lessons.

Some studies have shown that using creative writing exercises to engage students can go a long way in promoting positive attitudes towards the art of writing. As one tool in a great toolbox of creative language teaching techniques, TYO’s English classes encourage the use of creative writing in our classrooms and in the lives of our students. Allowing students to lead and direct the conversation towards their own interests involves students more personally in the learning process. It also builds their confidence and ability to engage in other topics they may be unfamiliar with. Much of our students’ previous English instruction experience followed a “teach to the test” pattern, which means students often look for explicit answers to explicit questions, and struggle to reflect on what they have read.

To inspire the students out of this mindset and get them asking “Why?”, the EFL classes use many different creative activities to practice writing skills. Over the course of one week, the beginner class wrote their own stories and eventually presented them to the class. They could tell any story they liked, as long as it was at least two minutes long. This gave our students a chance to tell stories they are interested in, whether they be a re-telling of a famous Arabic myth or a story of personal importance to them. Students were responsible for editing their stories, practicing storytelling techniques, and working on confidence when speaking in front of a crowd! It was a tall order, as almost everyone struggles with public speaking even in their native language, and so everyone was very proud of their work and the progress they made by the end of the week.

To my surprise, some students resisted many of these more creative exercises at first; they were conditioned to expect questions like, “Where do you go to university?” in their previous English classes and could clearly see the value of answering such a question. Over time, however, participants came to enjoy thinking about deeper, more conceptual questions that challenge the students to articulate their hopes, their dreams, and their futures. In frustrating environments, confidence in the importance of your own stories and the merits your struggles and triumphs have can have far-reaching effects on self-confidence and self-worth. As such, it is vital, in Palestine and in classrooms around the world, to show young people that it is not just what they know, but their thoughts and feelings as well, that matter and deserve to be heard.

 

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 Fellow, Spring 2016

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New Approaches, New Results

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Students share reasons for learning English with their teacher.

Students participate in class by sharing their language learning goals with the teacher.

As we finish up the STEP II program, and students reflect on what they have learned and their experiences in the classroom, the teachers also must consider their teaching styles and foci. Yesterday, as I was interviewing a young man, he told me that he doesn’t like grammar—for him, the most important thing is that he understands people and they understand him. With that as his benchmark, he has undoubtedly succeeded in his English education. While his sentences are not grammatically sound, he is articulate and can confidently make himself understood. But if asked, he probably could not articulate the difference between countable and uncountable nouns, or the nuances of verb tenses. On the other hand, when I asked my class what they would like to do at the end of English class, I was asked about the perfect tense and the passive voice—things many native speakers struggle to understand and use correctly.  

In some ways, this reflects how each student will put the English language to use. For students whose career depends on reading and writing in English, it is important to know the nuances of English grammar and the written language as it will be necessary for their studies and certification. One of my extremely dedicated students is studying for a certification in dentistry, but the exam which tests professional competency and knowledge is conducted entirely in English.  Even with a perfect knowledge of dentistry, it would be impossible to pass this exam without a strong proficiency in English. For this student, it is vital to read, write, and understand complex, scientific structures in English. But for my students who want to open their own business, or work as a tour guide, comfortable communication in English is much more important than the specifics of verb tenses and clauses.

There are a number of foreign language learning strategies, and most fall on a scale between these two opposites—functional, survival comprehension, and grammatical understanding and construction. While in the past language classes have been heavy on grammar and translation as comprehension, contemporary experts prefer an interactive and integrated methodology. Even with the preference to use new methodology, it is found that emphasis on reading and translating passages, conjugation of verbs, and explanation and memorization of grammatical rules still are observed in foreign language classrooms today.” So, even though we know that these strategies aren’t necessarily the most useful for fluency, we do still consider the content important. After all, it’s jarring to hear someone say “He like go for sandwich,” even if the word order is correct and the idea is clearly conveyed.

The use of movement and physical participation are important elements of the EFL classroom at TYO.

The use of movement and physical participation help students to learn English in a new way.

At TYO, the exact methodology and style of instruction is left up to the teachers—some focus primarily on interaction, games, and comfort with the language, while others prefer a more structure-oriented approach. At the same time, choosing to use games and interactive methods does not by any means preclude learning grammar—in fact, the interaction and integrated nature of learning, or the direct method, has been shown to be much more successful. Here, the “primary goals are for students to think and speak the language; thus, no use of the native language is allowed. Teachers employ objects, visuals, and realia to make the input comprehensible.”

With teachers who often don’t speak or even understand Arabic, TYO’s EFL work must rely on the direct method. The emphasis is on context and understanding, rather than content. This is not to say that we don’t have direct grammar instruction, but students might practice grammar constructions with a team relay more often than they write a worksheet. My class wanted written and spoken fluency, more than they wanted to read complex texts, so we focused on building confidence and functional usage. At the same time, there is space for students who need to understand the complexities of the English language to ask questions and push themselves as far as they are able. This approach leaves the class very open and self-directed in many ways. The students learn basics collectively, but are able to drive their own learning with assistance from the teacher.

 

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 Fellow, Spring 2016

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Humans of Nablus 15

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Wide closeup

I came to TYO to improve myself and the lives of other people around me. It is a wonderful experience for me being here and I enjoy the service I am providing for others. In the future I would love to have my own organization to provide more services for the children and women that are in need. I want to open a school for the students that are always in the streets. They should be taught life experiences just like TYO does presently. It is my goal to take children off the streets and to educate them. Knowledge is power.

لقد أتيت الى منظمة شباب الغد  لتطوير نفسي وتطوير حياة الاخرين من حولي. كانت تجربة رائعه بالنسبة الي لانني استمتع بالخدمات التي اقدمها للاخرين. في المستقبل اتمنى ان امتلك مؤسستي الخاصة من اجل تقديم خدمات اخرى للاطفال والنساء ممن هم بحاجة لهذه الخدمات . أريد ان افتح مدرسة للطلاب الذين يجوبون الشوارع. عليهم ان يتعلموا تجارب الحياة تماما كما تفعل منظمة شباب الغد حاليا. هدفي هو اخذ جميع الاطفال من الشوارع وتعليمهم. فالمعرفة قوة

 

The Youth Service Learning (YSL) program is part of STEP! II, a youth employability, empowerment, and community leadership initiative supported by Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation.

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Breaking a Sweat, Breaking Isolation

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Last week, the The Women’s Group’s Spring 2016 session came to a close. The Women’s Group is a program for women residing in refugee camps and disadvantaged neighborhoods in Nablus with a focus on the mothers of children in TYO’s Core Child Program. This session, TYO has been proud to offer fitness and nutrition classes taught by our Spring 2016 Zahi Khouri Fellow, Beginner’s English classes, and educational seminars that focus on mental health, physical well-being, and child-rearing. Our Spring 2016 session culminated with a trip to a local park in Nablus where 60 Women’s Group participants gathered together to eat delicious food, reminisce about the last two months of programming, and make plans to socialize in the future.

Fatimeh, Aya, Huda, and Mariam enjoy The Women's Group end of session trip.

Fatima, Aya, Huda, and Mariam enjoy The Women’s Group end of session trip.

TYO beneficiary, Sabah, describes how TYO helps her connect with others and feel less lonely:

“I love TYO and programming it offers women. I love learning English, exercising and taking nutrition classes with my friends, and building community with women from other camps I would otherwise never meet. Sometimes I feel isolated at home and being able to come to TYO, break my routine, and spend time with a big group of women feels so good.”

An April 2016 study found that loneliness and social isolation have been linked to a 30% increase in the risk of having a stroke or coronary artery disease and that social interaction plays a critical role in an individual’s health and wellbeing. The Women’s Group

​participants gain many skills from the programming they are offered but they
​also have the opportunity to break the isolation many of them experience and build relationships with people they would otherwise never meet. TYO looks forward to continuing to offer programming to the Nablus community so our beneficiaries can continue to form bonds that will benefit their health and last a lifetime!

Vanessa, Women’s Empowerment Program Coordinator

 

 

 

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