Voices of Youth in the Middle East: My experience

I was raised to be an independent and a strong woman. A woman who knows her rights and knows what she wants. However, only last year, I started to figure out where I want to go in life. I started my life changing journey and my miracle happened. It was only last year this time, when I was browsing through the internet and came across the VOY internship. Yes, it was only then, when I became a part of this global community.

My name is Natalie Esmail and I’m a 23-year-old Palestinian. Exactly one year ago, I was very interested in enhancing my writing skills. And it was then that I applied and got accepted to the Voices of Youth (VOY) blogging internship.

Since I was a little girl, I’ve always been passionate about reading and writing. It was my sweet escape from the world. Voices of Youth (VOY) became the key to this door. VOY allowed me not only to share my voice with the world, but to also engage with other young people from different countries to exchange ideas. And it opened my mind about what is really happening around the world.

A New Chapter

I started from scratch. I’ve learned everything from zero. Despite thinking that I was already “super” at writing. I discovered how much practice I still need in order to master something. So let me explain from the beginning; what is Voices of Youth? How did the process go? And how have I changed?

Voices of Youth is an online community, where people from all parts of the world can join and share their voices. For me, my journey with VOY started when I was an intern in the blogging internship. This internship helped me to transform from an amateur writer to a professional one. A three-month online internship, that enriched my writing skills and turned my mistakes into lessons that are now well-learned. And helped me to overcome all the challenges that I faced — step by step.

It was like climbing a mountain. On the way up, you fall every now and then, when facing an obstacle along the way. But the most important thing is that you have to keep on climbing the mountain. You have to continue your way. No matter how many obstacles, how many failures you might face, you have to proceed and to believe in yourself that you can do it.

I learned to believe in myself, despite the nameless challenges that I faced during my internship, whether because I wasn’t a native English speaker, or because of my inability at first to accept the feedback I received as lessons rather than criticism. When you share the draft with the VOY community manager, he or she will review it, give you a feedback and inputs on how you can improve. The internship follows the method of learning by doing. Step by step. And now looking back, I can say that because of these mistakes and these lessons and these challenges, I’m now the community manager of the Arabic version of VOY.

Arabic Version Of VOY

And now, here I am supporting the launch of the Arabic version of Voices of Youth on the 26th   anniversary of the CRC. It’s the day when every young person who speaks Arabic, and wants to raise his or her voice, can join the global community.

What is so special about an Arabic version of VOY? For me, it is not mainly because of the numerous Arabic speaking young people — who can now publish their articles in their mother tongue. It is much more that VOY now opens up to a region, where young people are normally not actively encouraged to speak out, to develop critical thinking skills and to advocate for their rights. VOY Arabic wants to strengthen the capacities of these young people to become agents of change, in their community and in the society in general.

In addition, readers will be able to get a closer look at the reality of the Arabic youth, learn about their hopes and fears. The public will read their own words, learn about their passion and challenges. And all of this by listening to them speaking their own language.

VOY is an outstanding platform. It literally turned my life around. I now believe, how dreams can really come true.

Join Voices of Youth now, and let your voice be heard!

Natalie Esmail is Voices of Youth community manager and former blogging intern.

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