By: Melek Bali (YES 2016 - 2017, Tunisia, hosted by CCI Greenheart in Everett, WA)
Grace Lee bogs once said: “You cannot change any society unless you take responsibility for it, unless you see yourself as belonging to it and responsible for changing it.” I decided to live by this saying in order to truly leave a remarkable impact on my community.
During my exchange year, I had the opportunity to fully submerge within a whole new culture. One that taught me that nothing is impossible and pushed me to work effortlessly to make radical changes in my life. As a result, I tried to put my newly gained knowledge about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to good use - I joined an NGO that helps youth activists establish projects serving the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Simultaneously, I had been learning about entrepreneurship as a member of Spark Club and reestablishing a cultural club in my high school.
Many months later, my work didn’t go unnoticed. I was invited to record a podcast on March 29th on national radio along with two other activists, to talk about youth engagement and how it impacts Tunisian society.
During the podcast, I talked about the YES program’s role in creating and mentoring future leaders in different countries and the whereabouts of our activities. We also had the opportunity to discuss the different environmental and cultural dangers we’re facing as a society and the different approaches that youth advocates are taking.
This was a splendid opportunity to promote peace, change, and a flourishing future for generations to come. As small as it may seem to many, the national radio invitation pushed me to keep working harder and know that my voice and actions can affect people’s lives.
I simply can’t deny that this would have never happened without my YES exchange experience. Through all of its ups and downs, I learned to firmly pursue my dreams and believe that change is possible. Today, I stand as a hopeful young leader with a passion to leave a long lasting impact.