YES Programs


Alumni Resources

The YES Alumni Program wishes to engage YES alumni in building a worldwide YES community to continue building bridges as citizens around the world. The resources offered aim to provide tools to help YES alumni build these bridges and cultivate their leadership skills.



A STRONGER COMMUNITY: Engaging YES Alumni and Students with Disabilities

Susan Sygall

Olivia Hardin

Celine Lin

A Stronger Community - Engaging YES Alumni and Students with Disabilities

In preparation of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, A STRONGER COMMUNITY - Engaging YES Alumni and Students with Disabilities (YES Alumni Webinar) focused on helping the YES community create a more inclusive, engaging experience for students and alumni with disabilities. Attendees joined the webinar on Thursday, November 30 at 9AM EDT to:

  • Motivate YES and YES Abroad alumni with disabilities to participate in projects and activities in their communities. 
  •  Increase knowledge about organizing inclusive volunteer projects. 

This webinar was also equipped with tools and opportunities to help students and alumni be as active as possible in their communities.

This webinar was open to all YES and YES Abroad alumni as well as on-program students. 

If you missed the webinar, you can still learn more about increasing inclusivity for all by watching the recording of this webinar on the YES YouTube channel and Vimeo!

Meet The Panel: 

Susan Sygall, CEO and Co-founder of MIUSA

As CEO and co-founder of Mobility International USA, Susan is an internationally recognized expert in the area of international educational exchange and leadership programs for persons with disabilities. Susan, a wheelchair rider, has had a personal and professional commitment to disability rights and women's issues for more than 30 years. She has co-authored numerous publications in the area of international exchange and international development opportunities for persons with disabilities and co-produced several award winning videos. Susan has lectured throughout the world on a variety of topics related to inclusive development, international exchange and disability rights. 

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Olivia Hardin, Program Specialist for MIUSA 

Olivia has worked in the field of international education for over ten years. At MIUSA, her primary responsibilities include providing technical assistance to support students with disabilities on U.S. Department of State exchange programs and being part of the core team that hosts exchange students with disabilities for disability-related orientations in Eugene, OR. Olivia’s articles have appeared in many publications such as EducationUSA Connections and Global Study Magazine.


Celine Lean Yew Lin (YES 2013-2014, Malaysia, hosted by AFS in Nashville, TN) a visually impaired YES alumna, launched The Gift of Sight Community Project to produce holistic and accessible educational materials for students at the Setapak Special School for the Blind in Kuala Lumpur and to raise awareness about persons with disabilities. Celine is also committed to strengthening her alumni community by volunteering at YES Alumni Malaysia and participating in several alumni projects.


YES SHE CAN: Projects for the Empowerment of Girls and Women

Tasneem Kibria


YES SHE CAN: Projects for the Empowerment of Girls and Women Webinar

Many YES alumni are joining the movement to empower girls and women in communities around the world. In celebration of International Day of the Girl, the YES Alumni YES SHE CAN: Projects for the Empowerment of Girls and Women webinar effectively organized projects and activities pertaining to the advancement of girls around the globe, gave insight into inspirational projects and activities YES alumni have accomplished in the past, and informed the YES community about United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

This webinar was open to all YES and YES Abroad alumni as well as on-program students. 

If you missed the webinar, you can still be inspired to empower women and girls in your community by watching the recording of this webinar on the YES YouTube channel and Vimeo!

Tasneem Kibria Orpa

Meet The Panel: 

Tasneem Kibria (YES 2013-2014, Bangladesh, hosted by AYUSA in Houston, TX) is the treasurer of YES Alumni Bangladesh and the former 'Shadow' Ambassador for Her Excellency, Marcia Bernicat, to promote young women's leadership, an initiative by the Dutch Ambassador of Bangladesh. As a member of YES Alumni Bangladesh, Tasneem has helped organize and implement alumni projects for the advancement of girls such as, "3.5 Billion Reasons" and "Self Defense 101".

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Portia Akua Yeboaa (YES '17) is the founder of the "Red Elephant Project" which provides feminine hygiene supplies to girls in Ghana. As part of this much-needed project in her community, Portia translates information pertaining to menstruation in her native language in order for girls to gain education pertaining to this topic. Portia also helps create sanitary kits for girls which includes reusable sanitary pads and a guidebook to educate girls about menstruation. 


Sports for Development and Peace

Rachel Markowitz

Geraldine Go-Bernardo

Nasir Ahmad

Sports for Development and Peace - YES Alumni Webinar

What if you could foster peace, promote mutual understanding, and empower a community through a game of football or ultimate frisbee?

Guess what?....You can!

Sports are universal bridges to overcome differences in culture and develop cross-cultural communication. The YES Alumni Sports for Development and Peace webinar took place on Tuesday, July 11 at 9AM EDT to educate the alumni community about projects and activities that use sports to promote development and peace. Experts in the field provided knowledge, tools, and resources for all attendees. Alumni, on-program students, and organizations learned how to effectively utilize sports to influence change in their communities.

This webinar was open to all YES and YES Abroad alumni as well as on-program students. 

If you missed the webinar, you can still be inspired to utilize sports to make a positive change in your community by watching the recording of this webinar on the YES YouTube channel and Vimeo! You can also watch it again on Facebook Live

Meet The Panel: 

Rachel Markowitz, YES Senior Program Officer at AMIDEAST

Originally from Kansas, Rachel spent five years in Morocco where she conducted research as a Fulbright Scholar and worked in international education. At the University of Texas at Austin, Rachel earned a Master’s in Global Policy Studies and focused on international development and conflict. Rachel’s thesis was on sports for development and peace based on her experiences facilitating sports programs in Morocco, Rwanda, and Israel/Palestine. She now serves as the YES Senior Program Officer at AMIDEAST in Washington, DC. Her favorite sport is Ultimate and she plays on a competitive women’s club team called Suffrage.

Geraldine “Dina” Go-Bernardo holds a B.S. in Physical Therapy from the University of the Philippines and a Master’s Degree in Business Management at the Asian Institute of Management (A.I.M). A recipient of various training seminars from the Philippine Chamber of Commerce, International Labor Organization and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Dina became the first Filipina, in 2012, to be accepted into the inaugural class of the Global Sports Mentoring Program for emerging women sports leaders -- under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State and espnW. 

Nasir Adu Ahmad (YES '09) is the President of the YES Ghana Alumni Association, a board member of AFS Ghana, and organizer of the YES Peace Games in Ghana. Nasir executed the YES Peace Games in order to promote an atmosphere of peace in his community and to empower youth to be agents of change in their communities.


Cross-Country Collaboration

Hela Nafti

Shebnem Niazi

Jennifer Russell

Cross Country Collaboration - YES Alumni Webinar

Every day YES alumni work together to implement sustainable projects impacting their communities. But what if alumni wanted to support a project organized by alumni in another country? Is this possible?...YES! There are so many ways YES alumni can support their peers all over the globe and many of them found out how on the Cross-Country Collaboration webinar! 

The Cross-Country Collaboration webinar on Thursday, June 1 at 9AM EDT focused on how to support the projects of other alumni in YES countries around the globe. The panel of speakers included Jennifer Russell, Director of Education at iEARN-USA, Héla Nafti, TEARN Country Coordinator, and Shebnem Niazi,YES 2013-2014 and YES Alumni Coordinator of Bulgaria. The speakers provided tips for remote participation in projects happening in other YES countries and tools to use to collaborate with alumni from other countries. 

If you missed the webinar, you can still learn be inspired to engage in cross country collaboration by watching the recording of this webinar on the YES YouTube channel and Vimeo!

Meet the Panel

Jennifer Russell, Director of Education at iEARN-USA

As Director of Education, Jennifer provides expertise, leadership, and coordination in the development and promotion of iEARN-USA's virtual exchange program strategies, tools, and network. In this role, she designs projects, resources, trainings, and online courses for teachers and youth to increase their technology and cross-cultural collaboration skills. Prior to joining iEARN-USA, Jennifer was a Peace Corps volunteer in Albania and China where she was a teacher trainer and taught English as a foreign language at the primary and secondary level. 

Héla Nafti, TEARN Country Coordinator

Héla Nafti is the Country Coordinator for TEARN, iEARN Tunisia, and is also the Senior Inspector for English Language Teaching in Tunis, Tunisia. She trains teachers and works for the development and implementation of the educational reform in Tunisia. She has been the iEARN Country Coordinator in Tunisia since 2004 and formally launched TEARN as an association in 2011. She has trained many teachers across the country in online project-based learning and leads citizenship activities for teachers and youth, focusing on improving understanding between communities and empowering youth with 21st Century skills to help them build a better world. 

Shebnem Niazi, YES 2013-2014 and YES Alumni Coordinator of Bulgaria

After returning from her YES exchange year in the U.S., Shebnem's passion to understand the multifaceted interconnectedness among nation-states, international institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and ethnic, cultural, and religious groups never faded away. Shebnem joined the members of the YES Alumni Association in Bulgaria and participated in and implemented several projects including the renovation of public spaces, social awareness campaigns, and donation drives. Shebnem decided to broaden her worldview and the scope of her volunteering by teaching English at the Sri Udom orphanage in rural Thailand. Being a part of a group of people who work together cooperatively, communicating and coordinating openly to achieve a shared goal, made Shebnem realize the importance of cross-country collaboration. As Alumni Coordinator, inspired by the Interfaith Harmony Workshop (IHW), Shebi initiated the Letters of Hope for Refugees project. The campaign's goal was to provide messages of support and solidarity from around the world to asylum seekers in Bulgaria. The project ended up having over 1,200 participants from 5 continents and 18 countries. Currently Shebnem is in her gap year. Starting in the fall, she will be attending the New York University in Abu Dhabi where she plans to pursue a degree in Social Research and Public Policy.


GYSD 2017!

Yutthakrit Chalermthai

YES Alumni Webinar - GYSD 2017!

From brainstorming to budgeting, planning a Global Youth Service Day project can be challenging sometimes. That's why we organized the YES Alumni webinar for GYSD on Thursday, March 30, 2017. The webinar was a dynamic, interactive experience that fused together GYSD webinars from the past. It was a complete mashup that focused on the purpose of GYSD, budgeting, and the actual steps for planning a successful GYSD project. The webinar prepared the greater YES community for GYSD weekend in April 2017 and served as a tool for alumni to explore community service ideas and to start their own service projects. Both YES alumni and on-program students were encouraged to attend.

The special guest presenter was YES alumnus, Yutthakrit Chalermthai (YES 2008-2009, Thailand, hosted by AFS in Chesaning, MI). Yutthakrit is the founder and the first President of the YES Thai Alumni Association. After fulfilling his cultural exchange year in the U.S., Yutthakrit initiated and implemented more than 10 community service projects! He also started a social enterprise project called "Mushroom for Much More" which involves cultivating and selling mushrooms in order to financially support families living in poverty. During the webinar, Yutthakrit offered participants strategies, tools, & tips for starting their own GYSD projects.

If you missed the webinar, you can still learn how to plan and implement your GYSD project by watching the recording of this webinar on the YES YouTube channel or Vimeo!

Don't forget to register your project with Youth Service America here!