The end of the year brings much to celebrate! For the YES alumni community, these included Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations to relive the memories of their second home (i.e., their host communities) and celebrating International Education Week, World Kindness Day, and many other special days that prompted alumni to organize events to uplift their communities and their fellow alumni. Here are nine ways alumni closed out 2022 with a bang.
1. Throughout November, alumni in Kenya held the Feed an Orphan drive, which fundraised $350 for food, school supplies, and toiletries for 65 children that reside at Ummu Bilaal Orphanage in Mombasa. On December 17, they visited the orphanage to cook meals, play games, and speak with the children on the importance of education. (Photo right)
2. In December, alumni in Kosovo organized four events for their Gift a Smile initiative to bring holiday cheer to their communities. In Gjakove, alumni organized an activity with 21 first graders to make handmade holiday cards to go into gift packages for others. (Photo above) In Decan, an alumnus held an activity with middle school students with disabilities, during which he colored pictures with the students and shared about his experience on the YES program. In Pristina, alumni gathered to exchange Secret Santa gifts and engage in a gingerbread house decorating competition. Alumni also handed out holiday cards to elderly pedestrians in Mother Theresa Square to cheer them up.
3. In December, seven alumni in Yaounde, Cameroon collaborated with the nonprofit Girl Up to organize a coding camp for 15 high school girls, ages 15 to 20. Participants learned how to code in html and cascading style sheets (CSS) as well as good universities for pursuing degrees in information and communications technology (ICT) and the types of careers available. After the training, four participants were selected for internships with partner ICT organizations. (Photo above)
4. In Nigeria, three alumni visited two Kano City orphanages in celebration of World Kindness Day, which is observed annually on November 13. During the visits to Nassarawa Children’s Home and Niasse Hassene Orphanage, alumni spoke with over 150 children about the impact that kindness can make on the world and encouraged the children to be kind to one another. After the discussion, they spent time playing, coloring, and painting with the children.
5. On December 24, five alumni and five Yes Abroad students in Dakar, Senegal celebrated Christmas with 15 hospitalized children at Albert Royer Hospital. They played games, painted pictures, and ate snacks with the children. And Santa even came! (Photo left)
6. Alumni in Kuwait City organized Thanksgiving dinner for 11 alumni, two members of the U.S.-Kuwait Alumni Association, and four U.S. Embassy representatives, including Chargé d’Affaires James Holtsnider, Public Affairs Counselor Christy Watkins, Cultural Affairs Officer Katherine Garry, and Public Engagement Specialist Adel Ibrahim. During dinner, alumni shared their experiences on the YES program and memories of their host communities.
7. In Alexandria, Egypt, alumni and fellow volunteers from Alexandria University and local NGOs, organized an International Volunteer Day celebration with the theme of diversity and inclusion. The event, which was attended by 750 people, celebrated and honored children with disabilities and local volunteer leaders, featured an exhibition of products hand made by people with disabilities, and included games centered on teambuilding and inclusivity. (Photo above)
8. Alumni in the Philippines and North Macedonia organized a virtual exchange between alumni from North Macedonia, alumni from the Philippines, and 50 non-alumni participants in celebration of International Education Week. Representatives from each country presented on their countries’ history, language, culture, sites, food, and people. Audience members engaged in lively cultural discussions about similarities, differences, and common misconceptions about the two countries.
9. The Israel (Arab Communities) alumni network hosted the annual YES Thanksgiving dinner in Kfar Yassif, which has traditionally been an occasion for new alumni to meet more senior alumni to exchange experiences and find a support system after returning home. Eleven alumni each brought a Thanksgiving dish to share, and they played games and shared what they were thankful for. (Photo above/right)