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April Students of the Month

Final Headshots

In April we had two YES Students of the Month!

Sham Alaqraa (Gaza/ASSE/Wyoming, MI)

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Sham with Cindy June, the scientist she shadowed for her leadership project.

Within days of Sham Alaqraa’s (Gaza, hosted by ASSE) arrival in her host community in Wyoming, Michigan, the April YES Student of the Month launched an enthusiastic program of community service. She began working with a food pantry at her host family’s church that welcomes 35 underserved families twice a month. The families receive basic household supplies along with a warm meal. While Sham is helping serve the families she is happy to chat with them about herself and her background.  For each event, she also makes three cakes to serve the families for dessert.  As an independent community service project, Sham recruited volunteers to bake and decorate cookies, which she then brought to the appreciative residents of a local senior home. Sham has similarly enjoyed helping out the elderly in her host community by doing yard work for them. 

Although Sham has been busy with her volunteer work, she still finds time to study and has earned high grades at Grandville High School.  At school, she has enjoyed sharing about her country through presentations about her home and homeland.

Sham plans to study genetic engineering in the future, and, for an ASSE leadership project, she shadowed Cindy June of Grand Valley State University. Cindy works in a university laboratory, doing research and training high school students who would like to specialize in the field of genetics.  Sham wrote that she learned from her time with Cindy that a leader has to have patience and the ability to explain her thoughts in several ways, recognizing that not everyone thinks the same way.

Sham loves spending time with her host family, playing board games and watching movies, as well as helping out wherever needed.  Her host mother wrote, “Sham is a very loving and caring person and is always thinking of others before herself.”

According to ASSE, Sham does not seek out the spotlight, but “through her character she stands out and reflects very positively on her country and the YES program.”

Monon Saad (Bangladesh/Ayusa/ Fort Worth, TX)

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YES student Monon Saad from Bangladesh (hosted by Ayusa in Forth Worth, TX) has shown a fierce determination this year to not only be a citizen ambassador, but also to dive into every possible new opportunity and experience.

Monon takes his responsibility to be an ambassador of his country, culture, and faith seriously. He has given close to 20 presentations about Bangladesh. As a talented artist, Monon has also used his art as a way to share his culture and traditions. One painting he entered in the Visual Arts Scholastic Event, a statewide contest in Texas, earned the highest possible score and was displayed at the competition, which is also the largest art festival in the state of Texas. Three more of his paintings were exhibited at his host school, Paschal High School.

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One of Monon’s paintings.

Monon strove to involve himself as much as possible in school and community. He was accepted to Young Artists Apprenticeship, has joined Varsity Choir at school, and is learning to play the piano and guitar. With his choir team, Monon performed in the University Interscholastic League and the team won the highest possible score for one of its songs. He also joined Key Club, Science Club, and the Debate Club at school. Even with all his extracurricular involvement, Monon never let his academics slip as a priority and maintained a class ranking of second among 700 students.

Monon has also done his best to give back; he participates weekly in a church outreach program that serves food to the homeless population.

When Monon reflects on what he has learned from the program, he shares, “We do not have an unlimited chance to have the things we want. Nothing is worse than missing an opportunity that could have changed your life.” 

Congratulations to both our Students of the Month, Sham and Monon!


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