Bring Refugee Children Education and a Smile

by Tomorrow's Youth Organization
Busy at work in the computer lab!
Busy at work in the computer lab!

At TYO we're celebrating the end of another successful session of programming. Children enrolled in the Core Child Program completed 12 weeks of classes that were devoted to addressing the themes of  Me & My Community, Communication, and Collaboration.

When asked to reflect on the session, TYO Core Teacher, Mufeeda explained that she is reminded of the challenges faced in the first weeks and the resulting sense of accomplishment she now feels for having helped her kids through those first few weeks. Initially children some were hard to engage, refusing to speak in class. For some of these children it was the first time in their lives that they left their refugee camps or neighborhoods. It took a while to build their trust with these children and show them through positive modeling that someone outside their homes can be a role model and care for them.

She went on to explain that nothing makes her more proud and excited than watching those silent children open up over the duration of the session. She reports having three particularly unengaged students but when they at last they smiled, and by week seven even asked to hold hands, she felt immense satisfaction. Teachers at TYO work hard to ensure children aren't only supported in the classroom, but also in the home. As such, teachers make frequent calls to follow-up with parents and relay the progress of their children, notifying parents of any potential issues flagged during class. Mufeeda attributes much of the success she was able to achieve with her children this session to the inclusive approach TYO takes to addressing the needs of children enrolled in the programming as well as the integration of new learning tools.

Of great help this session in engaging students was the inclusion of IT classes in the Core Child Program. Each day children were exposed to age appropriate educational content and games in the computer lab. According to a study by the Alliance for Childhood, for children over 3, ‘some exposure to thoughtfully constructed media content can promote pro-social behaviors and contribute to learning, especially when a caring adult is actively involved.’ IT activities were carefully selected to hone their small motor skills, logic and reasoning skills, and spatial awareness skills. Learning games from sources such as PBS Kids, National Geographic, and Sesame Street provide children with colorful and engaging games from trusted content providers.

We've been so happy to watch children at TYO develop their skills over the last session and with your generous support we can ensure that we have the  necessary resources to provide children in the Nablus community with the robust learning environment they deserve. 

Teachers work  to provide individualized support
Teachers work to provide individualized support


Kids get ready for classes at TYO!
Kids get ready for classes at TYO!

The Spring class session at Tomorrow's Youth Organization just kicked-off earlier this week and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome dozens of new and smiling faces to our community center in Nablus, Palestine. The beginning of classes is always an exciting time at TYO as it’s the culmination of weeks of preparation- lesson plan refinement, classroom decoration, and community outreach. This session children have much to look forward to- we’ve enhanced our programming, adding a literacy-building Arabic class for our youngest beneficiaries, expanded our English-language learning program to include our middle school-aged beneficiaries, and hired an additional Core Child teacher, which has enabled us to bring in even more students to the center! Beyond these exciting changes to our programming, we’ve been fortunate to watch over the last few months as our outdoor play area has been transformed into beautiful new park for the community, thanks to a generous donation from Playgrounds for Palestine.

The new Spring session also heralds the arrival four new interns from the US, UK, and New Zealand who will be spending the next three months teaching a range of classes- everything from children’s English classes at TYO to professional competency classes at An Najah University. TYO’s International Intern Program offers a unique opportunity for Nabulsi children to interact with native English speakers, which not only helps them build language skills, but also exposes them to different cultures, helping to open their young and impressionable minds.

You can always stay in touch with what’s happening at TYO by following our blog. Thanks for your continued support!

TYO's new playground
TYO staff welcome children back
TYO staff welcome children back
A volunteer helps encourage teamwork
A volunteer helps encourage teamwork

With the fall session halfway over and the Thanksgiving season rapidly upon us, here at TYO we’re pausing to give thanks for yet another successful season of programming- a feat that wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of our friends like you. From English classes for our youngest students to the revival of our popular Triple Exposure Photography classes for our oldest, TYO continues to refine and develop its schedule to ensure we are providing our children with unique and meaningful avenues through which they can re-discover open expression and find themselves in their emotions. In particular, this session students have been learning about the importance of developing their perceptions of identity and place within their community. These topics were selected to expose children the idea that they are valuable in- and responsible for- their community, which boosts their own sense of belonging.

Staying true to its mission, TYO’s commitment to enhancing the community goes far beyond the classroom. This fall, TYO’s dedicated international staff, interns, fellow, and volunteers lent some helping hands to area farmers, assisting with the annual olive harvest. TYO traveled to Nus Ijbeil- a small village about 15 minutes north of Nablus- and was placed with a family courtesy of Cannan- a fair trade company that helps bring Palestinian products to market across the US and Europe. Olive byproducts are one of the mainstays of the Palestinian economy and harvesting is an extra tedious manual process, so the extra hands were greatly appreciated!

Here’s a few snapshots from this fall: 

International Interns and Fellows: This fall, 6 interns from Canada, England, and the United States joined the team at TYO- Zak, Cynthia, Rosie, Jessica, Noah, and Rachel. During their time here, the interns have been extra busy, leading creative, action-filled classes that serve kids from TYO's target areas, teaching English classes to preschool children in TYO’s Core program, and conducting health, fitness, and IT classes for TYO’s Women’s Group.

TYO has also been pleased to host our very first Zahi Khouri Fellow, Reema. The Zahi Khouri Fellowship Program provides Palestinian American students and graduates the experience of professional development in Palestine at TYO. Amongst other things, Reema has been working closely with teachers in the Core program to implement TYO’s pilot English language learning program for young children.

Core Child Program: This fall, TYO’s passionate and vibrant group of Core teachers have been placing extra emphasis on the role of community in order to help our children value their individual qualities and the qualities of those around them. Daily, our children confront issues such as domestic violence, neglect, and physical and emotional forms of punishment.  They come to TYO feeling as though they are not “worth it.”  They have not been taught to appreciate their self-worth, and they have not been given the tools to improve their self-image.  Through psychosocial-focused lesson plans and activities, we aim to prove to our children that they are worth it. 

Youth Service Learning: Earlier this fall, TYO was proud to honor one of our dedicated volunteers with the second annual Youth Service Learning Scholarship. Salah Khateeb, who is currently a student at Al-Quds Open University, explains how working with TYO has allowed him to further develop his personal and professional skills. “I couldn’t imagine myself standing in front of a large group to give a presentation, but TYO has helped me develop my communication and presentation skills,” he says. His experience at TYO has also taught him how to be patient, especially with children, “I can now say that I know how to control myself with children and how to deal with them, which has reflected on my life in general.”

Stay tuned for next session’s updates, and on behalf of refugee children of Nablus, thanks for your continued support!

Triple Exposure students explore identity
Triple Exposure students explore identity


Core Program kids make a splash.
Core Program kids make a splash.

Earlier in the season, we asked if you were going to the pool this summer- because our kids at TYO wanted to go, too! And thanks to friends like you, refugee children in Nablus were able to dive right into a summer of fun and non-formal education- which, of course, included several smile-filled field trips to the swimming pool. In the words of Core Program Teacher Mohammed Albukibash, "The pool was a great opportunity for the kids- it was the first time most of them had ever been swimming in a place like that, and they were so excited to have such a spacious area to play."

But in addition to diving boards and backstrokes, TYO’s summer session made a real splash in multiple ways- whether it was Core Program kids expressing themselves in drama class or an international intern working alongside local volunteers, the past three months of programming brought immense impact and memories likely to last for quite a long time. 

Here’s a few snapshots from this summer: 

International Interns: This summer, 7 interns from the United States joined the team at TYO- Eleanor, Kyra, Emma, Jenna, Jessica, Debra, and Elizabeth. During their time here, the interns led a creative, action-filled summer camp that served kids from TYO's target areas, instructed university students in professional competency at An Najah National University, and taught English classes to preschool children at the American Corner in the nearby town of Salfeet.

Core Child Program: With field trips to the soccer stadium and the park, Core Child Program certainly dove into a summer of fun- but the excitement was supplemented with the benefits of non-formal education. This session, Core Program kids enjoyed classes in IT, Health, Drama, Sport, and more- all while learning about self-expression, identity, resilience, and healthy communication. Highlights of the summer included a visit from a local circus, learning about identity during World Refugee Day, and performing a special song for the VIP guests at TYO's 5 Year Anniversary event. 

Youth Service Learning: After undergoing trainings on topics like psychosocial work and translation skills, TYO volunteers took their skills into the classroom, supporting TYO Core Program teachers and international interns. Like Maysoon, pictured below, volunteers helped students with activities like reading and running around at the soccer field- while also sharpening their own professional skills and classroom management abilities, which they can take into their communities long after the session’s ended.   

Stay tuned for next session’s updates, and on behalf of refugee children of Nablus, thanks for your continued support!

Intern Liz smiles with some of her students.
Intern Liz smiles with some of her students.
Hanan from Core Program plays at the park.
Hanan from Core Program plays at the park.
Volunteer Maysoon practices reading with students.
Volunteer Maysoon practices reading with students.

Our Spring session has come to an end. In just eight weeks of programming, our interns formed friendships and bonds with TYO local staff and beneficiaries. In January we warmly welcomed three new interns this session - Alex, Danish and Emily. From Wisconsin, the UK and Pennsylvania respectively, the interns came all the way to Nablus to improve the lives of community members in Palestine’s most disadvantaged areas. They taught IT, fitness and photography to participants in The Women's Group, soccer for boys and girls, English classes for TYO's businesswomen and Professional Competency courses at An-Najah University. It was a busy eight weeks for this group but it was so rewarding!

"The time may have come for me to leave Nablus, but I’m certainly not leaving empty-handed. Of course I’ll arrive at the airport with my bags in hand but more delicately I’ll hold onto the faces and words of gratitude that have permanently planted themselves in my memories."- Emily, TYO intern, Spring 2013

"TYO and its programs will continue, and the incredible people I met here will stay, committed to improving the lives of those in need in Nablus. I’m just glad I got to be a part of it."-Alex, TYO intern, Spring 2013

"I could never have envisioned that I would have learnt so much in so little time. If organisations like TYO continue to provide these women and children with these fantastic opportunities and continue to cultivate them into change makers for their society then I am sure the future of Nablus, Palestine can be a lot different to its present. I am leaving Nablus with the fondest of memories and friendships that I will never forget."-Danish, TYO intern, Spring 2013


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Organization Information

Tomorrow's Youth Organization

Location: McLean, VA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Niralee Shah
Country Director, Tomorrow's Youth Organization
McLean, VA United States

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